Lancaster City Swimming and Water Polo Club missed out on their 13th national title as they came up just short in the final weekend of Super 5s action in Sheffield.
The Salt Ayre club were 10-8 winners over City of Manchester on Saturday but it wasn’t enough to set up a dramatic final day on Sunday, the margin of victory meaning Lancaster could no longer regain the title due to an inferior goal difference.
Perhaps with that at the back of their minds, Zak Sly’s side then went down 12-11 to Invicta with Lancaster ultimately finishing third as the 2016 British Water Polo League drew to a close at Ponds Forge.
Lancaster had made a storming start against Manchester, racing into a 6-2 lead thanks to goals from Tom Curwen, two, Glen Robinson, Alex Parsonage, Scott Sharpe and junior Stefano Cossutti.
But after exclusions for Curwen and opponent Rob Rae for misconduct Manchester narrowed the deficit to 8-5 by the end of the third and looked favourites to push on to victory after levelling at 8-8 in the last quarter.
Lancaster rallied again however, late goals by Cossutti and Harrington sealed a terrific win but the final score line of 10-8 meant that Lancaster could no longer pick up the title.
A deflated city side then took on Invicta on Sunday in their final game of the league campaign.
The game did not start well as Invicta scored three early goals and it could have been worse if it was not for a number of great saves by junior Owain Llewellyn.
Cossutti did however step up and score his third goal of the weekend as Lancaster finished the first quarter 3-1 down.
Robinson and Parsonage found the back of the Invicta net in the second quarter but Lancaster could not halt the Invicta charge as they led 7-3 at half-time.
An improved performance in the third quarter from the city side saw Robinson and Parsonage score another goal each with Curwen putting two more goals away and Sharpe one.
Lancaster were still playing catch up though with Invicta 9-8 in front heading into the final period.
It was an even final quarter with Harrington and Parsonage hitting the back of the net and Chris Hartley scoring in his final game before retirement but it wasn’t enough to prevent the 12-11 defeat.
Sly said: “It was disappointing to lose our chance of the title by goal difference against Manchester and I am sure if we had done it the game against Invicta would have been a different one.”
Lancaster start their British Championship campaign against Invicta on Sunday, March 6 at Salt Ayre Sports Centre where they will be looking for their 10th title success.
Doors open at 2pm with entry £2.50 for adults and £1.50 for under 16s.