Polytechnic BWPL Champions Cup 2023

Polytechnic clinch BWPL double at Champions Cup

2 Jun 2023

The British Water Polo League (BWPL) season came to an exciting end last month, with the Champions Cup decider weekend crowning Otter and Polytechnic the winners of the women’s and men’s competitions respectively.

The two-day decider, which took place on 13th & 14th May at Coventry’s Alan Higgs Centre, was set following the completion of the ordinary BWPL season – in which the respective men’s and women’s Super 5s champions of Manchester and Polytechnic qualified for the competition alongside Liverpool Lizards, Otter and Hucknall for the women’s side; with Sutton & Cheam, Penguin and Manchester rounding off the men’s teams.

The format for the event saw the first and fourth seeds take to the pool for the first semi-final, with Polytechnic taking a comfortable victory 17-7 over Sutton & Cheam on the men’s side, followed by Manchester overcoming Penguin at the fourth time of asking over the course of the season, thanks to some excellent work from goalkeeper Tom Manley and a couple of fine finishes from Harry Dunkerly in the final quarter to see the game out 12-11 – setting up a stellar final.

The women’s portion of the competition saw Manchester advance to the final in a similar fashion to Polytechnic’s men’s side – with a dominant 16-6 victory and three hat-tricks from as many players seeing them set up a final with Otter – who powered through from an at once slender 7-5 lead to overcome Hucknall 10-5.

BWPL Champions Cup Women 2023
Photo by Alex Jenkins

The men’s final between Polytechnic and Manchester was a spectacle right the way through to the final whistle, with the league champions never looking fully assured of their eventual win until the final quarter, which began with Joel Leighton scoring for Manchester to cut Polytechnic’s lead to 8-7. A smart goal by Nick Hook eventually made the scoreline 9-7  and then a penalty, converted by skipper Kimon Haralambous, settled the double for the London club.

Otter’s 8-6 win over Manchester to clinch the Women’s Champions Cup was a similar affair. The London side had the advantage through each quarter – taking a narrow 4-3 lead at the halfway stage. It would have been worse for Manchester had it not been for two excellent penalty saves by their goalkeeper Sophie Jackson.

Lucy Bullock's goal from distance put Otter 5-4 up early in the third period and two more goals by Bullock made it 7-4. The final quarter continued in the same fashion with a few more goals amongst a flurry of high-intensity attacks with both teams trading their final blows as the game came to a close before Otter held on for the win.

BWPL Champions Cup Otter 2023

The third placed playoff matches finished Penguin 13-7 Sutton & Cheam (men) and Liverpool 13-9 Hucknall (women).

Speaking after the matches, British Water Polo League Chairman David Andrews gave his thoughts on what was another year of high-quality competition for the league.

“The BWPL represents the sharp end of domestic water polo and teams regard the competition as defining their season. This year saw the competitiveness of all divisions remain with many going down to the last matches on the last day.  Men’s Super 5s was a prime example of this; the three top teams Poly, Penguin and Manchester were almost inseparable and the final table saw the three teams being split by a single point with Poly taking the title on goal difference after a single goal victory over London rivals Penguin in a superb last match of the campaign. This continued at the season finale Champions Cup where London Poly won the Men’s title after a tense final against Manchester with Otter Ladies snatching the Ladies title from BWPL Champions Manchester in an epic final.”

For the full results from the season, check out the British Water Polo League website.