Sean Colfer summarises the semi-finals of the Mixed division ahead of the final this morning.
Today the Australian Mixed team will play the United States Mixed team in the final of the World Ultimate and Guts Championships. For the Americans, this could be the crowning of a remarkable campaign so far – they’ve conceded fewer than four points per game so far, and boast some of the best players in the world on their team. For the Australians, the task is clear; stop one of the most dominant teams in the history of Ultimate on the biggest stage of them all.
The semi-finals were very different games. In one, the USA thoroughly dominated surprise opponents France 15-4. The French came through a tough power pool, losing in sudden death to the Colombians and therefore slipping to third place. That gave them a tough pre-quarter against Germany but they came through 14-11. The result set up a quarter-final with an impressive-looking Great Britain team. The French came out hard and took an early 9-6 lead when the game was suspended due to lightning. However, they kept the momentum going once play resumed and ran out comfortable 15-8 winners. Their momentum came to a shuddering halt against the American juggernaut – a 7-0 run to start the game will generally do that to you. The Americans took their foot off the pedal slightly from there on in and still only conceded four points.
Meanwhile, Australia and Canada played a much closer semi-final. The Australians defeated Japan in tough conditions on Thursday, finishing their game in torrential rain just before the lightning hit. Their offence was the rock that supported them in the semi, not giving up a single break. They went on a three-point run just before half-time and that proved to be the difference. The teams traded throughout the second half, neither D-line managing a break, and the Barramundis secured their place in the final with 15-12 score.
The final will show us how good this American team truly is. The two teams have played once already in this tournament but both teams played at a level below that of which they’re capable, preferring to save their intensity for a potential re-match. The Aussies are an excellent team – they’ve conceded just over eight points per game, so are winning easily against most teams. If they can run their offence as cleanly as they did in the semi-final and bring the defensive intensity that all the Australian teams have displayed so far then they might have a shot.
Their margin for error, though, is miniscule. The Americans are simply too good to give them any kind of advantage. The Aussies’ top line – players like Rogacki, Alexander, Wise and Dowle – is good enough to compete with America. Whether the whole roster can do the same for a whole game to 15 points, it’s tough to say. If they beat this USA team, it will be remembered for a long time as one of the biggest upsets in a WUGC final. The problem, though, is there’s a reason everyone remembers upsets – they don’t happen very often.
PREDICTION: USA 15 – 9 Australia.