The second round of competition at the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Canoe Polo World Championships provided plenty of thrilling matches in Welland in Canada today, with several of them being decided in the very last seconds.
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 in the 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 at the Welland International Flatwater Centre.
Iran was also involved in one of today’s thrillers with a last-second penalty to Australia giving their opponents 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," Australia’s 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."
Great Britain beat France 6-5 in their final pool match of the women’s competition.
The result means they were able to finish top of Group WC.
"The team has come on loads this season, it’s unbelievable," Britain’s 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 Sunday (August 5) 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 under-21 event with Poland scoring a goal with the very last play of the match against The Netherlands to snatch a 7-6 victory.
Poland’s 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 Denmark, France, Germany, Iran, Italy and Spain.
Germany, Britain, Italy and New Zealand topped their pools in the women’s draw, while France and Poland headed their groups in the women’s under-21 event.
Pool play in the men’s under-21 competition concluded yesterday.