WBHS 1st team travelled to the Clifton Aquatic Center for their last fixture of term 1. It is always foreboding to go to a venue that has seen the home team dominate in KZN for over a decade and play a team currently ranked in the top pair nationally. WBHS 1st team have never beaten Clifton and it would take a superhuman effort to change the stats.
The game was officiated by Olympic Referee – Dion Willis and Provincial Referee – Jarred Appelgryn.
A packed stadium saw Clifton get the first shot off in under 20 seconds from the start and Ethan Bush in goals up to the task. David Macdonald then earned an exclusion that was not converted by WBHS. With a minute played, Clifton opened the scoring with a good shot from the right. WBHS responded well with an exclusion earned by Teague Loelly and well converted by Riley Hardwick. The pace was frenetic in the short course pool with both keepers busy every attack and Loelly finally breaking the deadlock with a good hole man goal. Clifton then replied with another good goal of their own. Joshua Scully scored off a good cross pass from Captain Jordan Mills but Clifton scored off the next attack again. Clifton set up a good drive to get Mills excluded and scored the resulting extra man, but Mills then got a goal back with a good shot from the right. Clifton scored again off their attack and Loelly spun the Clifton guard to earn a penalty that was converted by Mills. With 11 goals in the first period, the second period started where the first ended off with a missed attempt from Mills that was scored off on the counter by Clifton and tied the scores at 6-all.
Bush saved off a Clifton extra man and Mills scored on the counter to put WBHS 1 up. Joshua Parry was excluded and Clifton converted the man up to even the scores. Loelly then scored from the hole and Bush kept Clifton at bay with three good saves before Mills put WBHS two up with a good cross cage shot and Bush then thwarted the next two Clifton attacks. WBHS turned 9 – 7 up at the half time interval.
The third period was far more sedate and the WBHS shooting was not as good. Mills and young Aaron Tarr hit the keeper with poor shots while Clifton bounced back with a good goal of their own. Macdonald then earned another exclusion which was wasted by Trent Lilford when he missed the goals and later hit the post, but Mills was on the end of another good cross pass to keep WBHS 2 goals in front. Some poor finishing and good goalkeeping saw WBHS unable to score from the next 4 attempts while Clifton were far more clinical and evened the score with two good goals .
At 10-all, the game was still anybody’s and Hardwick had a chance to put WBHS in front but missed his shot, while Macdonald made sure on the next attack. After playing the whole game, Macdonald still had the energy to drive and created another exclusion which was clinically converted by Scully on the extra man set up. Blake Holmes then caused an exclusion on the drive and converted the resulting extra man. Clifton threw everything at WBHS and should have scored more than once but poor shooting and good goalkeeping kept the scoreboard untroubled. A goal mouth mess by WBHS saw Clifton capitalize with 3 minutes left in the game, but WBHS were able to hold on for a historic first-ever win over the water polo powerhouse .
The final score was 13 – 11 with Mills (5),Scully (3), Loelly (2),Hardwick (1) , Macdonald (1) , and Holmes (1) all getting on the scoreboard