Fremantle Mariners opened their Tom Hoad Cup campaign in impressive fashion with a 15-8 win against Japan at Bicton Pool yesterday.
Runners-up for the past six years, Fremantle are one of the favourites to claim the 10th chapter of Perth's international water polo tournament named after the eight-times Olympian.
Goalkeeper Eddie Slade was busy for the Mariners, setting up teammate Daniel Lawrence for an early goal and saving a penalty from Japan's Koji Takei to help his team to a 2-1 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
The host club held a slender 5-4 buffer at half-time before breaking away to a 10-5 lead at the last break.
Lawrence finished with four goals for Fremantle and Tamas Molnar three, while Joel Swift, Aaron Younger and Jordan Kremers-Taylor all scored two.
Takei played a virtual lone hand with five goals for Japan.
A member of Hungary's Olympic gold medal sides of 2000, 2004 and 2008 and the Szeged team which claimed the Tom Hoad Cup in 2010, Molnar is playing as an import for Fremantle.
Slade, Lawrence, Swift and Fremantle teammate Sam Quinn were included yesterday in an Australian senior squad for the one-off Test against Olympic champions Croatia at Challenge Stadium next month. A squad of 17 will train in Perth from January 13, with 13 picked to play in the Test.
Last night Fremantle made it two from two beating China 11-7.
Earlier the Barbarians eclipsed Split 10-9.
The Aussie Sharks will host the Croatians on January 19 with the Aussie Stingers women's team to do battle with China the previous day.
WA's Paul Oberman will coach the Sharks with Chris Wybrow.
Oberman said the Test against Croatia provided opportunities for emerging players to stake their claim for a regular spot.
"A few players have made themselves unavailable for selection, such as Anthony Martin, Joel Dennerley and Mitch Baird, and with the retirements the door has been opened for some fringe Olympic players," Oberman said.
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