The Australian Stingers have taken seventh place at the 2018 FINA World League Super Final in China after defeating Japan in their final classification match.
After losing each of its pool round matches, Australia was thrashed 12-1 in its cross-over quarter final matchup with world champion USA.
Out of medal calculations, the Stingers also succumbed to defeat in its first classification match with Spain, meaning they faced a clash against Japan to avoid finishing last in the eight team competition.
After an even first half, that saw scores locked at 3-3, the Stingers managed to wrest ascendency late in the third term, when a stretch of five unanswered goals carrying over into the fourth quarter set up a match winning lead. The Australians would eventually claim victory 10-7.
Team captain Zoe Arancini admitted Japan had given the Aussies a stern challenge.
"Japan is a very difficult team. They are good at counter attack and defence. We have just got to adjust, as it is difficult. They were strong in the first three quarters. In the last we collected ourselves, calmed down and played what was in front of us,’ she said.
Arancini added that the squad was continuing to develop with a longer term focus towards the next Olympic Games.
"We are developing systems going forward to Tokyo 2020. We are continually improving. We have improved on last year, so we are going in the right direction, developing our systems.”
Australia’s head coach Athanasios Kechagias echoed Arancini’s remarks, labelling the campaign a learning curve.
"I think it is all about experience. We wanted to see our good and bad moments and analyse them and correct them to see how we can get better and be better in every process leading up to Tokyo 2020.”
The USA retained its Super Final crown, downing the Netherlands 8-6 for gold. In the third place play-off, Russia edged Canada by a single goal (7-6) to take the bronze medal.