The Sydney University Lions have led the way on the opening day of the National Water Polo League finals causing two major surprises against higher ranked opposition.
In their first game of the day, the Lions proved too strong for the third ranked Victorian Tigers, defeating them 9-7 in a hotly contested match.
Both teams exchanged goals during the first three quarters before the Lions blew open the game in the last quarter to jump out to an 8-5 advantage.
Aussie Sharks star Thomas Whalan was crucial in the third term scoring three goals to keep his team in the contest, before Lachlan Hollis and Tom Kearns stepped up in the last period to seal the two goal win.
Sydney Uni then backed up that performance with a gutsy 10-10 draw against the Brisbane Barracudas.
The scores were tight the whole way through with neither team extending their advantage beyond the one goal margin.
Whalan, Hollis and Kearns again stepped up for the Lions netting two each, as did former Aussie Sharks star Trent Franklin.
Lions coach Damian Fanning, who was ecstatic with his team's opening two performances, declared that the boys would only to continue improve as the week progressed.
"I think that we will continue to play well as we're finally gelling as a team and playing all four quarters. There have been periods during the year where we've had up and down quarters but we've played very well today," Fanning said.
"And as a group we expect to play well here. We haven't come to the finals just to run second, we're here to win.
"Guys like Thomas (Whalan) and Trent (Franklin) have of course stepped up and that gives confidence to the younger guys and encourages them to play at the highest level."
In the other games, the Fremantle Mariners and UNSW Wests Magpies have both defeated the Drummoyne Devils to take control of their group.
The Mariners came from a goal down at against the Devils to triumph 8-7 in a tight contest. The Mariners were up 4-2 at half time but an inspired performance by John Hahn in the cage, and goals to Samuele Avallone, Milan Nesic and captain Mitch Emery saw the Devils gain a 5-4 advantage.
The fourth quarter was just as exciting with Fremantle taking the lead on three separate occasions, before finally seeing out the contest through goals to Aussie Sharks' star Tim Cleland and Tim Neesham.
UNSW Wests Magpies then compounded Drummoyne's heartbreak by winning their clash 10-5.
Johnno Cotterill continued his great 2012 NWPL form scoring four goals, while Avallone did his best to inspire his team netting twice.
Tomorrow's action sees the second ranked Brisbane Barracudas face off against the Victorian Tigers in a must win match for both teams, while Wests play defending champions Fremantle.
Result: UNSW Wests Magpies 10 (Johnno Cotterill 4, Corrie Eames 2, Thomas Corcoran 2, Richie Campbell, Daniel Streets) bt Drummoyne Devils 5 (Samuele Avallone 2, Tyler Martin, Mitch Emery, Jake Stanton). Qtrs: 3-2, 1-1, 3-0, 3-2.
Sydney University Lions 10 (Thomas Whalan 2, Lachlan Hollis 2, Trent Franklin 2, Tom Kearns 2, Nathan Cargill, Clayton Whittaker, Zac White) drew Brisbane Barracudas 10 (BJ Howden 3, Rhys Howden 2, Anthony Martin 2, Daniel Young, Matt Giles). Qtrs: 3-2, 2-3, 2-1, 3-4.
Fremantle Mariners 8 (Daniel Lawrence 2, Tim Neesham 2, Tim Cleland, Fabian Wanrooy, Jamie Beadsworth, Grant Richardson) bt Drummoyne Devils 7 (Mitch Emery 2, Samuele Avallone 2, Adam Polivka, Milan Nesic, Tyler Martin). Qtrs: 3-2, 1-0, 1-3, 3-2.
Sydney University Lions 9 (Thomas Whalan 3, Lachlan Hollis 2, Trent Franklin 2, Zac White, Tom Kearns) bt Victorian Tigers 7 (Sam McGregor 2, Luke Gavin 2, Scott Carpenter, James Woods, Matt Martin). Qtrs: 2-1, 0-2, 3-2, 4-2.
For the current standings click here
For the full schedule click here bit.ly/IdNlnJ
Australian Water Polo