Aussie Sharks go down to dominant Croatia

AAP
A late penalty goal from Rhys Howden wasn't enough to help Australia beat Croatia's water polo team.
Camera IconA late penalty goal from Rhys Howden wasn't enough to help Australia beat Croatia's water polo team.

The Croatian men's water polo team have proven too strong for Australia, holding off a late fightback from the Aussie Sharks to prevail 10-8 in the first of their three Test matches in Sydney.

Scores were level at 3-3 after the first quarter at Sutherland Leisure Centre on Tuesday night but the European heavyweights pulled away in the second and the third, maintaining a three-point advantage.

A penalty goal conversion from Rhys Howden in the final quarter gave the Aussie Sharks hope but it was not enough to overcome Croatia, who have won medals at the past two Olympic Games.

Howden said the Croatians' counter attack had proven too powerful.

"We said before the game that their counter attack is really strong and I think they really burnt us in the first two-and-a-half quarters," he said.

"It was good to come back in the end of that third period and into the fourth .... but when you're playing catch up, water polo it is really hard."

There are a little more than 200 days until both sides compete in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

They will meet again on Thursday at Drummoyne Swimming Centre and on Saturday at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.

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