Tour 2 Review – Women’s

Iceni, Nice Bristols, nottingham, PUNT, SYC, Tournament Reports, UKUT2, Women's Tour
Charlie Blair brings us the Women’s tour review from Tour 2, held at Grove Farm in Nottingham.

The temperate conditions of London Calling became something of a distant memory at Tour 2 in Nottingham. Each division braved merciless winds and on occasion downpours that were no less than tropical! The fact that nearly all the games for the top half of the women’s tour took place on upwind/downwind pitches may have produced some score lines that otherwise wouldn’t have been. But whilst the ultimate wasn’t the prettiest, the weather provided a true test of depth and adaptability, producing some very exciting performances and results along the way.

However, even before the controversy of the wind, the women’s seedings had already been disrupted. With YAKA returning to home soil and ROBOT unfortunately unable to attract enough players to attend, all those outside the top three were bumped up two places. As a result, three of the teams who finished the weekend in the top 4, Iceni, Nice Bristols and LeedsLeedsLeeds, all ended up in the same pool. With Iceni winning all their games and retaining their seed at the top of their group, it was all to play for in the final game of the day between LLL and Nice Bristols for second place. But after having taken the first upwind score, Nice Bristols were unable to hold onto the advantage for long. Despite an effective use of poaches by the Bristol defence, Emilia Cruz’s penetrating deep cuts racked up the points for the northerners. This led to the two teams trading out the game until LLL were able to edge it in sudden death.

Alia Ayub hungry for the score in the endzone. Photo courtesy of Louise Smith

In the other pool, which included those that made the greatest advances at Tour (SYC and Punt), there was no certainty who would finish top until the very last results of the day. SYC were on course to hold seed until a somewhat unexpected loss to Punt. Punt’s confident handling and ‘give and go’ movement won them that first crucial upwind point. Their continued patience earned them a significant lead which SYC didn’t have enough time to comeback from, eventually winning the game 5-3.

This threatened to engineer a three-way tie, which would have seen Iceni Savage scrape the top spot (and a guaranteed semi final) on points difference assuming Punt won their final game against Seven Sisters (or Sistaz). However, the Brighton outfit had finally found their form after a solid defeat to Savage, with captain Kate Ford crediting a team agreement to play more inventively in spite of the challenging weather, as the turning point. They went on to win a highly competitive but markedly spirited game with players making calls against themselves even in high stakes situations. In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise to find Seven Sisters walking away with the spirit award for the second time. Nevertheless, their victory meant that SYC had escaped dropping seed after all.

As a result of their loss to LLL, Bristol met Iceni in the semis yet again. However, this time round it was a much closer affair. It was a tense first half with Bristol patiently exploiting the width of the pitch and getting under any swirling Iceni discs. But, after having taken the game to 6-6, Bristol unfortunately lost their momentum and Iceni closed out the game 10-6. As a result, Bristol are still chasing their first final of the season and would surely have relished the opportunity to replay SYC after losing to a phenomenal comeback from the Londoners at Tour 1. Will they manage it at Tour 3? Equally, will Leeds continue to climb the rankings? Despite an 11-6 scoreline that suggests SYC somewhat comfortably advanced to the last two, LLL actually won the second half. However, not being able to cope with SYC’s efficient transition from D to O cost them dearly at the beginning of the game, creating a considerable margin that LLL were unable to close.

Iceni Savage had the potential to cause an upset, yet both a clinical Bristol and resilient Seven Sisters performance left them unable to capitalise on the top 4 position they had earned by the end of Saturday. However, with no Savage team attending Tour 3, it’s hoped that teams such as Swift, Crown Jewels and Relentless will be able to push up the table and cause some upsets.

Punt showing off their ‘ups’ during their game against SYC. Photo courtesy of Louise Smith

In contrast to London’s Calling, Tour 2 suggests that the women’s tour is hot on the heels
of Iceni who were particularly tested on the Sunday to ensure they retained the top spot. The final was an extremely hard fought contest which I believe was crucially determined by Iceni managing to not only turn over the disc after having started on D, but then managing to slot in their first upwind score. From this point the two teams traded to half. SYC were unfortunate to not translate ridiculous possession saving grabs up high and horizontal, particularly from key handler, Emma Woodwark, into the breaks they were chasing. Nevertheless, a further source of spectacle was a fantastic match up between World Games hot shots, Jenna Thomson and Bex Forth. Even though Jenna got both a point block and a big lay out D in the end zone on the Iceni captain, Bex still managed to bring home the majority of her team’s points. Moreover, after the half Iceni then had the advantage of starting on offence downwind. This was subsequently topped off with a second upwind point. Thus, despite a highly contested game, Iceni were yet again victorious, with the final ending 12-7.

Movements in the Womens Tour. Courtesy of Wayne Retter.

Even though the wind proved to be both frustrating and tedious, every team upped their game and these improvements are certain to bear fruit in Cardiff. Here’s hoping that the final instalment before Nationals will produce even tighter score lines (and more of them!) that demonstrates an increasingly competitive and high quality level of women’s Ultimate in the UK.  

Apologies for late review; ECBU and real life caught up somewhat! DP @ tSG.

London’s Calling Review – Women’s

Iceni, London's Calling, Nice Bristols, PUNT, SYC, Tournament Reports, Women's Tour
Charlie Blair finishes off a busy week of London’s Calling reviews with the Women’s division.

London rivals lead the pack at London’s Calling

As expected, London’s Calling did not disappoint, with considerable disruption to the initial seedings at both ends of the women’s tour. The first event of the season saw the two London teams dominate their home turf with Iceni being the only team in the top 10 to retain their original position at the summit of Women’s tour. On the other hand, their local rivals, SYC, celebrated the greatest ascension of all; jumping up the table five seeds above the 7th place they began the weekend with.

Iceni’s quest to the final left a path of destruction in their wake, conceding no more than 8 points in any one match during the whole weekend. Clearly they were determined to assure the women’s tour that their performance at last year’s London’s Calling was a marked anomaly. As their score lines suggested, Iceni were merciless from the off, with every intention to bury each game come the half. This strategy proved to be a success, albeit after an initial wobble during their first pool game against PUNT on the Saturday morning.

Camille Peetroons toeing the line. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.

PUNT impressively pulled Iceni apart. And it would seem that this confidence only continued to fortify over the course of the weekend, with them having made a fantastic four seed leap by the close on Sunday. With figureheads Magali Matsumiya and Niamh Delany consistently looking to exploit the breakside they achieved some ambitious and fast pace play that allowed them to trade to the half against the reigning champions. From which point, the depth of Iceni’s squad pushed the pedal to the floor to comfortably see out the game in the end.

From then Iceni, didn’t look back, convincingly seeing off the rest of their pool. This included a somewhat unexpected demolition of YAKA who only managed to take 2 points off the Londoners. The French seemed to have been particularly deflated having lost in sudden death to newcomers ROBOT in the morning. A defeat that ended up seeing ROBOT take the remaining semi final spot that the third seeds had been coveting.

Women’s movers. Courtesy of Wayne Retter.
Nice Bristols looked set to retain their position at top of the other pool, having convincingly thrashed Iceni Savage, Swift and Leeds, and conceding only 13 points from all three games. However, their final game of Saturday turned out to be the ‘one to watch’ of the weekend. SYC romped to victory, having taken the game to sudden death with an incredible comeback from 11-5 down. A gritty performance, with some game changing defence from key players like Romanie Hannah and new addition, GBu23 Women’s captain, Ruby Rennison. As a consequence, SYC avoided Iceni in the semis, leaving Nice Bristols to face the top seeds the following morning. Unfortunately, they faced possibly one of the best defensive team performances of the weekend. Iceni were hungry and ‘heads up’ for turnovers, and dominated the Bristol offence from the get go. However, having had such tight game to the eventual runners up, it would be no surprise to see Nice Bristols in the final at Tour 2…

It was a disappointing weekend for Iceni Savage, LLL, and Seven Sisters, all of whom who were usurped by PUNT, and fell out of the top six. The latter two seemed to have suffered from a considerable shake up in both their rosters, and will hope for some tighter games come Tour 2 now that they have ironed out some initial ‘teething problems’ at London’s Calling. In the case of Seven Sisters, if last year’s performance is anything to go by, a mediocre London Calling finish does not mean they should be written off in Nottingham. Savage were unfortunate to have lost out in the pool stages to two games which ended in sudden death and potentially could have otherwise had a very different weekend. Unsurprisingly, it appears the lack of subs took its toll after this disappointment in their subsequent games.

Newcomer Vanessa Lowe debuting for Iceni Savage. Photo Courtesy of Louise Smith.
Aside from Iceni’s unswerving domination at the top, within the top 8 there really is everything to play for. Will Tour 2 be more of the same, or will we see another big shake up as the season progresses and teams respond to the successes/failures of their debuts? Is there anyone who can knock Iceni off the top spot? It’s safe to say that no one came close on this occasion. Despite SYC successfully earning their place in the final, inconsistency still plagues them. It was not exclusively Bristol whom they only just edged a victory over during the pool stages having also had to take the game to sudden death to defeat Iceni Savage. Equally, they had some spectacular points in the final which really did champion the level of talent on their team, but there remains something about their play that is preventing them from making the step up from not simply challenging their opponents, but dominating them.

So with the speculation and anticipation of London’s Calling over, we now eagerly await the reply…

Bring it!!!

Indeed! With only a week away till T2 I certainly can’t wait! Like, share, contribute and comment. DP @ tSG.