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Australian men bank first water polo win

AAP logoAAP 10/08/2016 Melissa Woods

Australia have set their sights on taking the scalp of world champions Serbia after a breakthrough win in the men's Olympic water polo.

The Sharks booked their first victory of the competition with a nail-biting 8-6 victory over Japan.

The win was crucial to Australia's hopes of a top four finish in their ultra-competitive six-country pool to advance to the quarter-finals, and comes after an opening loss and then a draw with big guns Hungary.

Australia water polo players cheer during the match against Japan. © REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh Australia water polo players cheer during the match against Japan. Two-time Olympian Johnno Cotterill said they drew on their performance against Hungary to bank the win over Japan.

"We were really revved up for the Hungarian game and we realised that with every game we've got to go in with that same passion," Cotterill said.

"Against Japan I think we put a little bit more pressure on ourselves because we've never lost to them before but we were confident after the Hungarian game, and we've still kept our hopes alive and that's the most important thing."

The much-improved Japan got off to a flying start before Australia's Aaron Younger nailed an equaliser in the final minute before half-time for a 3-3 scoreline.

Younger then put the Sharks ahead and started a roll with his team extending the lead to 6-3.

But the tenacious Japanese outfit proved hard to shake and there was only a one-goal difference heading into the final quarter.

Kiwi-born star Joe Kayes stepped up and slotted two goals, part of his four-goal game tally, to help seal the result.

"This tournament is just so close and we came in knowing it was going to be a really hard game," Cotterill said.

"Japan just don't give up."

The Australians next take on powerhouse Serbia but Cotterill said they were up for the challenge.

"Serbia haven't lost a game in a major tournament for the past two years so it's going to be a hard game but we like being the underdogs, and there's nothing to lose."

Chloe Esposito with her gold medal. Australia's Rio 2016 Olympic Medals
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