Karratha defeats Hedland in inaugural Pilbara water polo comp

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Karratha’s Ben Biddiscombe defends against Hedland’s Scott Gerhardt.
Camera IconKarratha’s Ben Biddiscombe defends against Hedland’s Scott Gerhardt. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

Water polo teams from Karratha and Hedland faced off for regional glory in the inaugural Pilbara championship match at the Karratha Leisureplex on Saturday morning.

In a competitive game, Karratha’s male water polo players defeated Port Hedland 8-3 in the first formal game to be played between the region’s two associations.

Karratha Water Polo Association president Justin Angove said the match was aimed at helping both sides practise for the upcoming WA Country Championships and promoting some healthy intra-regional competition.

“We have the Country Champs long weekend in March, and this is just a good opportunity for Port Hedland and Karratha to have a hit-out prior to heading away to that competition,” Angove said.

“We have planned the game for a while, but the logistics of people doing shiftwork and the tyranny of distance has made it a hard process, so it was great that finally Hedland was able to come down and play.”

Karratha’s Nigel Kroonstuiver holds the ball off Hedland’s Josh Blair.
Camera IconKarratha’s Nigel Kroonstuiver holds the ball off Hedland’s Josh Blair. Credit: Pictures: Alicia Perera, Alicia Perera

He said the clubs now planned to make the contest an annual event and expand it into a four-game series in future, complete with a North West Cup on the line.

“We’re talking to Hedland about making it a four-round series, where they come down in November, December, then January and February and we make it a bit of a tournament within the season,” he said.

“We want to make it something similar to what (South West clubs) are doing — they hold a South West tournament which includes Peel, Busselton and Bunbury, which is their prelude to the Country Champs.

“We have missed out on doing that in the past, but it gives you an opportunity to test yourself against a solid opposition team.”

Karratha’s Richard Clarke tries to block a throw from Hedland’s Matt Weeks.
Camera IconKarratha’s Richard Clarke tries to block a throw from Hedland’s Matt Weeks. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

Karratha and Hedland played an informal match against each other several years ago, but the championships match has now been formalised and involved full teams on both sides.

Hedland Water Polo Association president Brad Pawlenko said the game was a valuable opportunity for the two Pilbara clubs to foster ties.

“Being the two clubs that are furthest away from the metro area, and both associated with doing really well in terms of attracting players, it is well worthwhile,” he said.

“Playing against each other and having a regular tournament next year will give people a bit more of an aspiration to play.”

Karratha’s Rhys Knight passes past a Hedland opponent.
Camera IconKarratha’s Rhys Knight passes past a Hedland opponent. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

Before the championship match on Saturday, a KWPA women’s A-grade and men’s B-grade team also competed against each other in a training game which was won by the women, 12-2.

The WA Country Champs will be held in Busselton on March 2-4.

The KWPA is set to take three teams to the competition — a women’s division one and men’s division one and two sides — while Hedland will take one men’s division one team.

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