NATIONAL title glory came back to Dunfermline on Sunday as the water polo club’s senior men lifted the trophy in thrilling style.

Bitter rivals Portobello were their opposition for the game, played at the University of Stirling, which was a league decider after both teams had won all of their previous matches.

As a result, each side were restricted to players who were members of their clubs in the 2016 season but that didn’t stop a talented Dunfermline side from sweeping to a three-goal victory and their first success since 2014.

The team, coached by Davie Baxter, made a flying start to proceedings and were three goals to the good in as many minutes.

Mark Speed, Ali Campbell and Chris Campbell did the damage for Dunfermline after strong goalkeeping by Simon Metcalfe and quick counter-attacking play but, in a hard-fought encounter, Portobello hit back with a strike of their own.

Matthew Crighton netted to make it 4-1 two minutes before the end of the opening period but more drama was to come.

Two goals with 20 seconds remaining brought Portobello to within one goal but, with the last attack, Dunfermline managed to draw an exclusion.

After a time-out was called by Baxter, rising star Finlay Nesbitt stepped up to score a near-post bounce shot with two seconds left on the clock to give his team a two-goal lead going into the first break.

A goal at either end, with Ali Campbell scoring Dunfermline’s, ensured the scoreline remained in their favour at half-time by 6-4 but their advantage was quickly wiped out.

Two goals from Portobello pulled them level and, despite Ali Campbell completing his treble, another goal from the capital club kept them in contention.

But, in the final minute of the period, twins Darren and Chris Campbell each got in on the scoring act to put Dunfermline two goals clear going into the last quarter, where their defence held strong to allow Speed to score another two goals to complete his own hat-trick.

Although Portobello pulled one back, Chris Campbell made it 12-8 with just over two minutes to go and, despite losing another goal on the final buzzer, Dunfermline had done enough to claim the championship.

Delighted coach Baxter said: “It was a very strong opening to the game and the players were all very focused on their defence which gave us a great platform to launch our counter attacks.

“Portobello are a strong and experienced side and came back into it again and again but our younger players stepped up and gave us the edge.

“The final quarter could have been close but we got a couple of stops defensively then scored to finally pull away.”

Meanwhile, Nathan Crighton and Marios Tachiatzis added to the club’s feel-good factor by being picked to play for Scotland Juniors at this weekend’s under-14 inter-regions competition in Walsall.