National League water polo returns to Lancaster this weekend.
Salt Ayre is the venue as Lancaster City Swimming and Water Polo host the second round of Super 5s fixtures on Saturday and Sunday.
It is still all to play for as the British Water Polo League’s final stage continues with 12-time champions Lancaster having lost 12-10 to Cheltenham but beaten Bristol 14-9 in the opening weekend in Guildford at the start of December.
This weekend the hosts play both their games on Saturday, taking on Manchester at 11am and Invicta, a club from the South East, at 4.55pm.
Coach Zak Sly, who saw his side narrowly miss out on a 13th title 12 months ago, said: “The team is looking good this year.
“It’s only the second weekend of games so the title race is still wide open.
“We’re looking stronger than last year. Chris Hartley had come out of retirement which is a big boost.”
The squad will also include the likes of internationals Alex Parsonage, Glen Robinson and Tom Curwen but Sly is also encouraged by the constant stream of youngsters coming through at the club.
He said: “We’ve got a big junior competition coming up in March and four of those players who will play in that will be in the squad at the weekend.
“It’s a young team really but we’ve got some good experience in there as well.”
Lancaster City, third in the early Super 5s table, are hoping to be backed by a vocal home crowd with entry free at Salt Ayre on Saturday and Sunday.
Sly is hoping some new fans might come and try water polo for the first time and the country’s top players and teams do battle.
He said: “It’s action packed and fast moving.
“They’ll be plenty of tough and rough stuff too.
“It’s not a sport for the feint hearted but is great to watch.”
As well as the home side’s games on Saturday, Cheltenham also face Bristol.
On Sunday, Invicta take on Bristol and Manchester meet Cheltenham.
After this weekend in Lancaster there are two more rounds of fixtures to go.
The teams first head to Luton on January 23 before the winners of the 2016 British Water Polo League are decided in Sheffield on the weekend of February 13 and 14.