Game 1 – Australia 8, Japan 6
Both Japan and Australia came into Wednesday’s men’s water polo match looking for their first win in hopes of making the top four in their group to move on to the quarterfinals.
Japan more than anyone needed a win Wednesday, but in the end they couldn’t find a way to get past Australian goalkeeper Joel Dennerley, and they dropped their third match 8-6.
The teams fought close in the first half, taking a 3-3 tie into the break. Australia came out of the break swinging though, rattling off three straight goals in the first five minutes of play.
The Japanese team scored twice in the final minutes of the third, including an action shot by Koji Takei with 16 seconds remaining to head into the final quarter down 6-5.
Japan had several chances to take the lead in the fourth, but Dennerley was always there to ruin their day. He had two saves on two straight shots, and took the ball away on a pass attempt in front of the goal for a turnover with less than two minutes remaining.
Down 8-5, Mitsuaki Shiga fired a bullet from long range into the goal for Japan with 1:14 remaining to bring his team within two, but Shiga then missed a shot with 31 seconds remaining, allowing Australia to run the clock out and get the win.
Dennerley, who came in to the game at the start of the second quarter, saved 9 of 13 shots, including four from beyond five meters. Japan goalkeeper Katsuyuki Tanamura was just as strong, saving 13 of 21 shots, however he was just 3-7 on extra player shot attempts.
Joe Kayes led all scorers with four goals for Australia, and teammate Aaron Younger had three.
Takei and Keigo Okawa had two goals each to lead Japan. As a team, the Japanese made just two of their 11 shots attempts from beyond five meters.
Australia lost their first game in disappointing fashion, but bounced back with a hard fought tie of Hungary. With three points, Australia (1-1-1) currently sits in second in Group A, but will still need to avoid losing both of their final games to keep their quarterfinal hopes alive. They’ll play gold medal favorite Serbia Friday at 9:10 p.m. ET.
Japan lost their first game to Greece after dropping a three-goal lead at the start of the fourth quarter. Their second game wasn’t as close, falling to Brazil 16-8. The Japanese (0-3) will need to win their final two games and get some help if they hope to make the top four in Group A to move on to the quarterfinals. They will Hungary on Friday at 8 a.m. ET.
Men’s water polo coverage continues at 9:20 a.m. with Greece taking on Hungary