Gergely Csurka, FINA Media Committee

Two eight-final spots remained open for the last day and the desicive matches brought huge fights. The US team showed some tremendous defending while beating New Zealand 7-3 to book the first spot. The second went to Colombia after they showed some brilliant water polo in the fourth period to beat Canada 10-6 and earn one of the biggest success of their nation in major water polo events. Before the last day of the prelims, the FINA Technical Water Polo Committee took a historical decision as they applied a one-game suspension for brutality after a video-review.

Day 4 didn't end with last game – the FINA TWPC delegates reviewed the video footage of the game between Greece and Russia as there were some embarrassing moments in the dying seconds. The referees red-carded one player apiece, however, the delegate of the match initated a video review, a new possibility offered by the rules under testing here in Szombathely. The officials found enough evidence to penalise Russia's Valeriy Pelikh for brutality, and handed him a one-game suspension.

"We want to send a strong message for the water polo community that even if a brutal move remains unnoticed in the heat of the moment, no one can escape punishment if the video review offers strong evidence" – FINA TWPC Chairman Lolo Ibern commented the historical decision as this is the first time ever that a player is banned for a game based on post-match review.

Day 5 was kicked off by a thrilling game played for the second place in Group A. Australia led by two in the fourth but Brazil could tie the game with 1:59 to go and had a man-up to win it but missed it and the draw favoured Australia who will have a seemingly easier task on the following day while Brazil faces Spain in the eight-finals.

The games for the remaining two qualifying berths produced intesense fights but both ended in fine 4-goal wins for the US and Colombia. Great defending put the US team through as they limited New Zealand to 3 goals – two of those came from penalties, one from the centre, the Kiwis could score a single goal in the last three periods and were denied in all 9 of their man-ups.

Happy boys from the US after a well-deserved win over New Zealand – Credit: Noemi Kondor

Canada had a short good spell when they came back to 4-4 after trailing by two goals against Colombia but the game was dominated by the South Americans. With some brilliant shots from Simon Gonzalez – who netted 4 goals, 3 in the last period – they staged a 4-0 rush in the fourth period which secured their qualification.

Big fight, great win for Colombia

The four group-winners – each had secured the respective top spots before the last days in the prelims –, Montenegro, Croatia, Greece and Serbia all earned easy wins before they start their long preparations for the quarters (top ranked sides have a bye in the eight-final round tomorrow).

The session ending match saw another brilliant battle. Though the Russians seemed to have more control on the game and managed to respond immediately whenever the Hungarians climbed back. However, the hosts staged a great comeback at the end and scored twice in 46 seconds for 9-9. Russia had a last man-up but missed it and the Magyars kept the ball to save the draw which put them to the second place as both teams lost by three goals to Greece but Hungary netted more goals (12-15 v 10-13). This sets up two great games for the eight-finals: Hungary v USA and Russia v Italy.

The usual scene in Hungary: packed stands and electrifying atmosphere around the water polo pool

Preliminaries, final rankings

Group A

1. Montenegro 8, 2. Australia 5, 3. Brazil 5, 4. Egypt 1, 5. South Africa 1

(Equal points – results against the highest ranked team, MNE:

AUS: 6-10, BRA: 7-12 – EGY: 4-21, RSA: 5-23) 

Group B

1. Greece 8, 2. Hungary 5, 3. Russia 5, 4. Argentina 1, 5. China 1

(Equal points, results against the highest ranked team: GRE

HUN: 12-15, RUS: 10-13 – ARG: 3-13, CHN: 6-18) 

Group C

1. Croatia 8, 2. Italy 6, 3. United States 4, 4. New Zealand 2, 5. Uzbekistan 0 

Group D

1. Serbia 8, 2. Spain 6, 3. Columbia 4, 4. Canada 2, Saudi Arabia 0

Schedule, Day 6 

Crossovers for places 13-20th 

09:30 Egypt v Saudi Arabia

11:00 Argentina v Uzbekistan

12:30 South Africa v Canada

14:00 China v New Zealand

Eight-finals

15:30 Australia v Colombia (winner to meet Greece in QF)

17:00 Russia v Italy (winner to meet Serbia in QF)

18:30 Brazil v Spain (winner to meet Croatia in QF)

20:00 Hungary v United States (winner to meet Montenegro in QF)