Sunderland Rock the water polo league

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Sunderland clinched the Division Four National Water Polo title after an exciting finale at Manchester Aquatics Centre, with games against second-placed London Penguin Rockhoppers and third-placed Southhampton City.

Sunderland topped the table at the start of the day’s competition, but faced fierce competition in their first game against the Rockhoppers.

Leading goalscorer Anna Richardson produced three fantastic individual goals to help Sunderland to an 8–6 lead in the first quarter. But the Rockhoppers rallied to take a 9–8 lead with only 27 seconds of the game remaining.

With Sunderland in danger of losing their top spot, they pressed hard in the closing seconds and a superb lob shot from Sam Crawford levelled the scores at 9–9 with only one second remaining.

After the last-gasp point-saving performance, coach Dave Clarke and team manager Maggie Ward rallied the girls for their final game against Southampton City, where a victory was required to clinch the title.

Sunderland produced a disciplined performance and goals from Anna Richardson, Alison Mell, Sam Crawford and Judi Clayton helped Sunderland to a comfortable 9-4 victory.

As well as clinching the Division Four title, the team made a clean sweep of all of the division’s awards. They took the fair play award and the Top Goal Scorer Trophy with Anna Richardson taking the award for the second consecutive season.

Sunderland team: Alycia Clayton, Julie Parker, Sam Crawford, Alison Mell, Alex Ward, Anna Richardson, Ashley Boardman, Jessica Shallow, Judi Clayton, Nicola Stephenson, Sarah Rochester, Laura Clarke, Ashleigh Yeo, Katherine Green , Helen Davison and Sarah Drabble.