Josh Coxon Kelly reviews the primary domestic warmup for the club open season.
Pool stages on Saturday saw two upsets from Fire 2, who showed grit and tenacity to come out with sudden death victories over both Kapow and Devon, earning themselves second in the group and a hard fought semi-finals berth. Chevron won-out, although not without fight from their opposition, which included a Kapow team hungry to improve on a tense 15-13 quarter final loss at 2012 Nationals. The London outfit were unable to improve upon last year’s effort however, and Chevron proceeded to top the group.
The other side of the draw saw Fire 1 and GBU23 in a battle to top the group on Sunday morning. After dispatching EMO and Devon 2 decisively (both games got to score cap at 15-2) the Under 23s had made their statement and were ready to take their first scalp as a new team. However they found themselves up against an experienced Fire squad who, unflustered by the GB unit took an early lead, and held out for the win.
GB didn’t stay dejected for long however, and made their way past Chevron in their semi-final for a chance of victory at their first ever tournament. In a game that was not lacking in familiarity between players (no less than 9 of the full U23 team are part of this year’s Chevron squad), the game nevertheless saw an exciting and fiercely competitive matchup, as both teams tested the opposing offences with an array of defensive looks. Both teams showed an ability to work the disc upwind from the first pull, with GB earning an upwind break to start. Chevron replied with a break of their own, but eventually the GB D-line brought a strong that proved too strong for the Chevron rainbow. Trading stopped after the first half as GB became increasingly efficient at converting their turns as they took the momentum for the second half against a stuttering Chevron, and eventually the game.
Fire fought Fire in the other semi-final, in a training ground match-up for a final spot. Fire 1 commanded an expected lead early on, and despite a late surge from Fire 2 (characteristic of their performance throughout this tournament), they were unable to repeat the comebacks of the previous day against their first team. With Fire 1 now down to 9 men due to injury, permission was given by the TD for the two London squads to join forces to take on the GBU23 once again.
With the earlier result still fresh in both teams’ minds, both sides were fighting for something in the final – Fire for consolidation of their earlier victory, and GB for vengeance. Despite a strong start from both, it wasn’t long before the game was slipping from the Fire squad. With the largest squad of the tournament at 21, GB didn’t waste a body as they brought a combination of athletic defence on the pitch and full-squad noise from the sideline, mounting an all-out assault on the Fire Offense. This time it proved enough, and the GB D-line showed the dominance of earlier games to take the game away convincingly 13-6.
|GB U23 win Fog Lane Cup 2013. Photo courtesy of Harry Slinger-Thompson|
The GB team succeeded in winning their first tournament together, and they will look to continue this winning form as they compete in the coming Open Tours 1 and 2, and finally in Toronto this July. In terms of club it was a tournament of statements. Fire 1 and Chevron topped the pack after GB, but did not yet find themselves in a rematch of last year’s National semi-final. The two teams will almost certainly meet this season, but at what point? With such a short preview of the coming tour season it’s difficult to make predictions, but this weekend also suggests that Manchester Ultimate are looking to overtake northern rivals Leeds in their pursuit for a top 8 A-tour position. Kapow are clearly out to prove right many people’s suspicions that they can run with the top teams in the country. A tour regulars Devon, EMO and Leeds have shown that they are all preparing hard for the coming season, but will they be able to hold off the ever increasing competition from new teams? With the inclusion of GBU23 as well as European teams at London Calling, it looks like we’re set up for an exciting start to the open season regardless.
Note – some of the final games were rearranged to avoid replays, hence final positions.
Open Tour will start in two weekends time with London’s Calling and expect battles all over. Look out for our previews for both Open and Women’s divisions. REMEMBER; like, share, comment and contribute! tSG