Aussies stun water polo powerhouse Croatia

Australia have shocked Rio silver medallists Croatia, winning their Olympic water polo clash 11-8.
Australia have shocked Rio silver medallists Croatia, winning their Olympic water polo clash 11-8.

Australia have secured a major scalp and their first win of the Tokyo Olympics men's water polo tournament, upsetting powerhouse Croatia 11-8 in a topsy-turvy struggle.

Richard Campbell and Blake Edwards scored a combined five goals, while goalkeeper Anthony Hrysanthos led a brilliant defensive effort that was also central to Australia's first win over Croatia in Olympic history.

The Sharks, desperately needing to bank points given their pool features three of the top four sides from Rio 2016, shot out to a 7-3 lead early in Tuesday night's third quarter.

Croatia, silver medallists at the 2016 Games after winning gold at London 2012, rallied to reduce that buffer to just 7-6 at three-quarter time.

The third term ended with a contentious call that denied Edwards, representing the Sharks at these Games alongside brother and teammate Lachlan, a buzzer-beating goal.

Officials reviewed footage of the final seconds before ruling that time elapsed before Edwards scored.

The camera captured Australia coach Elvis Fatovic, who competed for Croatia at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics then served as an assistant coach for their triumph at the London Games, seeking clarification in direct fashion at the break.

Fatovic's charges weren't rattled, lifting when it mattered most while showing impressive composure in the final quarter.

Edwards nailed consecutive late goals, fashioning a 11-7 lead with a tick under three minutes remaining in the match.

Australia, who lost 15-10 in their tournament opener against Montenegro, currently sit second in Group B as they prepare to face reigning Olympic champions Serbia on Thursday night.

Australian Associated Press