Cape Town — The South African men's water polo side finished their group matches at the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea on a losing, but encouraging note on Friday.
Having lost their opening match 23-3 to Spain , the SA side bounced back to draw 8-8 with rivals New Zealand in their second encounter.
Playing European stars Hungary in their final clash was never going to be an easy task - and so it proved - with the Hungarians running out 23-5 winners.
At the final whistle the eight-minute quarters read: 5-1, 5-2, 8-0 and 5-2.
The defeat was however good enough to see SA finish third in Group C, ahead of New Zealand on goal difference (-38 v -42).
As a result, the SA side will now enter the knockout stage where the will play Germany on Sunday, July 21 at 11:30 SA time .
Germany finished second in their group after a mixed bag of results: A 9-9 draw with Japan, a 15-8 win over Brazil and a narrow 8-7 defeat to Italy.
The winner of that South Africa v Germany clash will have the unenviable task of taking on tournament favourites Croatia in the next round.
However, even in defeat to Germany, South Africa can do no worse than match their best ever result at a world championship (12th in 2015).
At the last world championships in 2017, the SA men's side finished 16th - and last - in the tournament, scoring 21 goals in five matches and conceding a whopping 77.