The second round of competition at the ICF Canoe Polo World Championships provided plenty of thrilling matches in Welland, Canada, on Thursday, with several matches being decided in the very last seconds of the contest.

The completion of pool play has meant the competition has now been split into two divisions, with the top teams all vying for this weekend’s finals, and the bottom teams striving to finish top 16 to guarantee a place at the 2020 World Championships.

The only major surprise so far was the failure of the Swiss men’s team, fourth at the 2016 championships, to progress to the top half of the draw.

Instead it was the team from Iran, playing in boats they only received one hour before their first match, who qualified.

Iran was also involved in one of the thrillers on Thursday, a last-second penalty to Australia giving the team from Oceania a nail-biting 7-6 win in both teams’ first match of the second round.

“I definitely think the squad has been coming together over the past six months, and over the last three days as well,” Australian captain Stephen Hubbard said.

“It’s really good to see and I think we’ll hopefully see a lot more in the next three days.

“We’re a very loud team compared to a lot of other players on the field, and I think that is our confidence. We are trying to show the other teams we are here to fight and to win.”

2018 ICF Canoe Polo World Championships Welland Canada

Great Britain held out France 6-5 in their final pool match of the women’s competition. The result meant Great Britain was able to finish top of their pool.

“The team has come on loads this season, it’s unbelievable,” British coach Martyn Williamson said.

“Top of our group, that’s all you can ask for at this stage, and I don’t think we’ve got to our best yet.

“We don’t want to get to our best yet, we want to do that on Sundat in the final. So I’m more than happy with where we are at the moment.”

Perhaps the game of the day came in the men’s U21, when Poland scored a goal with the very last play of the match against Netherlands to snatch a 7-6 victory.

Polish captain Dawid Jaloszynski scored the winner.

“That was so exciting,” he said.

“We had a little bit of luck. But in the last tournament we played at, in Milan, we lost in golden goal to the Netherlands, and now we have done it.

“I was so nervous because we had only 30 seconds, and we had the ball, but it was happening so fast.”

The top qualifiers in each group after pool play in the men’s competition were Italy, Germany, Denmark, France, Spain and Iran.

In the women’s draw New Zealand, Italy, Germany and Great Britain topped their pools, while in the women’s U21 France and Poland topped their groups.

Pool play in the men’s U21 wrapped up on Wednesday.

Pics by Dezso Vekassy

2018 ICF Canoe Polo World Championships Welland Canada

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