Welsh Wanderers Men have secured promotion to the top flight of the British Water Polo League with two games remaining of the season.
Promotion was secured after an exciting 8-6 victory over Sheffield in Manchester at the end of February. Wanderers will now aim to secure the Championship 1 title when they face Watford and Sutton & Cheam at the end of March.
The Welsh side finished the first phase of the season at the top of Division 2, which meant that they joined the bottom 3 teams in Division 1 as well as the 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th placed teams from Division 2 in Championship 1. At the end of the season the top 3 teams in Championship 1 are promoted to Division 1.
Wanderers started their Championship 1 campaign with victories over Invicta and Exeter before travelling to Manchester for a crucial three game weekend. The first game saw Wanderers recovering from 3 goals down to beat Caledonia 17-12, Joe Jenkins Delf, Lewis Gilmour and captain Dan Laxton each scoring four goals.
In the second game Wanderers faced local rivals Bristol. Wanderers have had the better of recent derby games, so it was a surprise when Bristol built an 11-5 lead at half time. Wanderers launched a fightback, but had left too much to do, eventually losing 16-13.
Wanderers went into the 3rd game against a strong Sheffield side knowing that a victory would see them promoted. However Sheffield have featured in Division 1 for most of the last decade, so it would not be easy. A fantastic Wanderers performance saw them leading 6-1 in the second quarter. Sheffield began chipping away at the lead and equalised with four and a half minutes to play. With four minutes left Dan Laxton scored an audacious lob to give Wanderers the lead. A tense final 3 minutes followed until, with Sheffield pushing for an equaliser, Ceri Griffiths converted a man-up opportunity with 3 seconds remaining, to give Wanderers an 8-6 win, ensuring they will return to top flight water polo next season.
Coach Nigel Davies said “I’m really proud of this group of players, we’ve worked hard and improved every season. I’m delighted we’ve been promoted with two games to spare. We’ll now turn our attention to making sure we get the results we need to secure the Championship 1 title.”