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Great Britain clinch bronze at the Four Nations Cup
The British Gas GBR Women's Water Polo team won bronze at the Four Nations International Invitational in Manchester with a hard-fought victory over rivals Germany.
After edging ahead in the opening quarter, the Brits pulled clear and survived a dramatic last-quarter fight back to seal their second victory over Germany in the tournament with a 10-9 win.
Ciara Gibson-Byrne, Angie Winstanley-Smith and Rebecca Kershaw scored doubles for the Brits while goalkeeper Rosie Morris enjoyed her best performance of the tournament between the sticks to keep the German attack at bay.
The British women will look to seal their place at January's European Championships next Saturday when they host Ukraine in their penultimate qualification match.
And head coach Sylveszter Fekete insisted their performances over the Four Nations weekend had been the ideal build-up for next weekend.
"Germany are in the top seven in Europe and we beat them twice this weekend so it's looking good for next weekend as well as next year," said Fekete.
"We've done well against two World Championship finallists and we've started to play the kind of water polo we want to be playing.
"Overall it's been a good checkpoint for us to see where we are - the team played well and we're getting closer to the top teams in every game."
Germany are also building up to their next European qualifier and showed great spirit to close the gap in the final quarter, with Monika Kruszona at the heart of comeback with five goals.
But Lisa Gibson's last quarter effort from the pit proved to be decisive as Germany pulled back to 10-9 but ran out of time to force an extra quarter.
And Winstanley-Smith - captain at the Four Nations in the absence of the injured Fran Leighton - admitted the team were now chomping at the bit to take on Ukraine and seal their place at the European showpiece for the first time since 1997.
"It's been perfect preparation for next weekend and has given Sylvester the chance to give all the players in competitive matches," said Winstanley-Smith.
"It was good to play some of the top teams in the world. Both China and Canada are consistent world finallists.
"We're pleased to have beaten Germany twice as last year was the first time we'd ever beaten them and I think we've played really well all weekend."
Scores for each quarter:
1st quarter GB 2 -1 GER
2nd quarter GB 5-2 GER
3rd quarter GB 2 -2 GER
4th quarter GB 1 - 4 GER
Final score GB 10 -9 GER
Great Britain: Ciara Gibson-Byrne (2), Rebecca Kershaw (2), Angie Winstanley-Smith (2), Chloe Wilcox, Frankie Snell, Lisa Gibson, Fran Clayton
Germany: Monika Kruszona (5), Claudia Blomenkamp, Anja Seyfert, Claudia Kern, Mandy Zollner
British Gas GBR Women's team:
Rosie Morris (City of Liverpool)
Chloe Wilcox (City of Chester)
Ciara Gibson-Byrne (City of Manchester)
Frankie Snell (West London Penguins)
Claire Nixon (City of Manchester)
Rebecca Kershaw (City of Manchester)
Lisa Gibson (City of Manchester)
Hazel Musgrove (Warrington)
Victoria Bowen (City of Sheffield )
Angie Winstanley-Smith (City of Manchester)
Fran Clayton (City of Liverpool)
Rachel Drabble (City of Liverpool)
Robyn Nicholls (City of Manchester)
The tournament was eventually won by Canada in a dramatic final against World silver medallist, China.
Canada and China put up on a grandstand finish to the tournament before Emily Csikos' last minute goal handed Canada gold.
China had held a slender lead throughout but after Tara Campbell had levelled for Canada with two minutes left, the North Americans pressed forward for a winner and Csikos' sealed the victory with an outside shot, just 35 seconds from time.
Canada were using the competition as a build-up to next month's Pan American Games where they will aim to qualify for the London 2012 Olympics.
But Marina Radu - one of the stars for the Canadian team in Manchester - admitted they also had a point to prove after losing out to the Chinese at the quarter final stage in this summer's World Championships.
"We lost to them at the World Champs but we've always been able to keep up with China and it feels good to have come out on top today," said Radu.
"We played really well and I'm really proud of the girls. We executed everything perfectly and we're all pretty exhausted now."
Canada 10 - 9 China (1-2, 2-2, 3-3, 4-2)
Canada: Tara Campbell (3), Emily Csikos (2), Joëlle Békhazi, Whitney Genoway, Dominique Perrault, Christine Robinson, Marina Radu
China: Ma Huanhuan (2), Liu Ping (2), Sun Yujun, Sun Yating, Wang Yi, Sun Huizi, Zhang Lei
The results from the all the weekend games can be found at www.swimming.org/britishswimming