Aussie men's water polo team beat Italy

The Australian men's water polo team boosted their Olympic hopes when they defeated world champions Italy 10-9 in the opening game of the Vodafone Cup tournament in Hungary.

Minus rested stars Billy Miller and Gavin Woods, the Aussie Sharks started strongly and led 3-2 at quarter-time, with Richie Campbell netting twice on his way to man-of-the-match honours.

Italy regained the lead midday way through the third period, but a third and fourth strike to Campbell and assists from Rhys Howden and Jamie Beadsworth edged the Australians clear.

Coach John Fox was thrilled with the confidence-boosting win over their London Games Group A rivals.

"This was a well fought, tough win by the boys," Fox said.

"It was an all-round team effort and gives us plenty of momentum leading into London.

"We play Italy in our first match at the Olympics so it was good to get a victory over them after some narrow defeats in recent weeks."

The tournament, which also features London medal favourites Hungary and Spain, is the last phase of an intense preparation for the Sharks.

Their next game at the Vodafone Cup is against Spain, also London Group A opponent, Tuesday morning AEST.