Friday, December 11, 2015

Southern Cup 2015 Review

with contributions from Abby Whiteley, Jack Lennard, Fraser Posford, Alex Harrison, Ashara Peiris, Claudio Svaluto, and Anjit Aulakh

With both regional tournaments complete and the Radcliffe Chimeras crowned champions of the south, the Quidditch Post takes a look over the participating teams and key games from the tournament. Stay tuned over Christmas for our mid-season rankings and analysis as we delve into even more detail for each individual team!

Pool Play

Group A
1. The Radcliffe Chimeras
There was relatively little of interest to glean from the Chimeras’ performance during the group stages, as an advantageous draw meant they were not hugely challenged until bracket play. The addition of Andrew Hull to the quaffle lineup gave the Chimeras a starting lineup of four TeamUK players, which was especially obvious during the early stages of the games. His presence, a significant bonus in its own right and one which poses a formidable threat, also freed Luke Twist from the green headband to offer him stints as chaser and seeker; Twist’s chasing in particular gave the Chimeras an additional level of excellent midfield defence. New promotions Shati Patel and Rian Harris shone as natural substitutes for starter Alice Walker. For the first time, the Chimeras took some brand new players to a winter tournament; the physicality and sporting acumen of Mitchell Skiles in particular was impressive, and has marked him out as a player to watch in the upcoming months.

Rian Harris & Jan Mikolajczak, beating for the Radcliffe Chimeras | Photo credit: Ajantha Abey

2. Taxes Quidditch
Made up entirely of veterans to the sport, Taxes were one of two teams in the rather exciting position of being an unknown quantity as a team in their current iteration but having drawn solely from the pool of recent graduates already familiar with the quidditch scene rather than freshers. Taxes lost to the Radcliffe Chimeras by the same margin as the Brizzlebees did, with identical final scores of 90-30*, but this is more to the Brizzlebees’ credit than it is to the detriment of Taxes. They came second in their group with relatively little difficulty, taking comfortable victories from the other three teams. They suffered from small numbers throughout, having brought an experienced few who were well-prepared for the intensity of the game, but even they could not resist fatigue all tournament. The average quality of player is consistently high throughout the roster, from fast and physical chasing from Abbi Harris, William Johnson, and Claudio Svaluto, to the highly efficient Becky Thomson and El Hull at beater. Lee Baughan and Bex McLaughlin were the team’s primary keepers, and both proved highly capable of commanding the pitch and utilising their chasers’ talents appropriately. Although finding the time to train together may continue to slow the team’s progress, the talent is certainly there for Taxes to make a splash at BQC.

3. Brizzlebees
The Brizzlebees, Bristol’s second team, were one of several teams making their tournament debut here. Captained by hugely talented utility player Matty ‘Panda’ Murrell – who in this case mostly appeared in the quaffle game the Bees put significant pressure on more experienced teams in the group and did themselves proud with a third-place finish. Daniel Goh in particular shone as his fast breaks into the keeper zone put his opponents under significant pressure. The Bees missed opportunities for some quick counterattacks that could have pushed their scorelines more in their favour; the squad is large enough that they could be more decisive on the attack and push through their subs more quickly with little difficulty. Aaron Brett-Miller was a standout beater with excellent technical skill and fitness; he will be an invaluable member of the team and certainly one to consider for movement to Bristol’s first team, the Brizzlebears, once he has mastered catching one-on-one against more experienced beaters with a bludger. Claire Cooper demonstrated significant potential as a seeker, catching the snitch against Reading Rocs on Day Two, and will be a threat in SWIM situations for the Bees throughout the season. Generally, the Bees could do with greater cohesiveness although this will come with time and need to work on cleaning up their game, as they did attract quite a few cards throughout the weekend.

4. Cambridge University Quidditch Club
Cambridge had a mixed Day One, taking unsurprising losses to Taxes Quidditch and the Radcliffe Chimeras, but also losing in SWIM to Exeter Patronum with a final score of 70*-20. This loss will have been particularly frustrating for the fact that it came at the hands of such a new team. However, Cambridge bounced back in the lower bracket on the second day with a decisive victory over the Oxford Quidlings, redressing the balance of the Oxford-Cambridge rivalry. In a win against the Brizzlebees, Bristol’s second team,
Cambridge’s players looked much more at home in the beater game than in the quaffle game; veterans Steffan Danino and Michelle Lim, alongside the hugely talented Jake Sullivan returning from a hiatus, all dealt with the challenges presented to them with impressive decisiveness and technical skill. Keeper Tom Hardman is a powerful quaffle player in his own right, demonstrating the kind of athleticism and reactiveness which distinguishes especially good players.

Michelle Lim, beating for Cambridge University Quidditch Club | Photo credit: Ajantha Abey

5. Exeter Patronum
There is no doubt that Exeter went into this tournament as the underdogs, expected to finish without a win alongside other new faces. Against the backdrop of these admittedly low expectations, they pulled out some excellent moments, even taking a 70*-20 win from the far more experienced Cambridge side. Indeed, for a new team, Exeter displayed remarkable tactical nuance and discipline in their game that left some of their opponents scrambling for points. Ryan Watkiss in particular stood out as an impressive driver, demonstrating impressive pitch awareness as well as simply general athleticism. It is a shame that the size of Exeter’s squad meant that individuals could not always perform at their full capacity, as fatigue eventually and inevitably prevailed against them, especially in their third match against Brizzlebees, where a long game and lack of bludger control allowed a big comeback against them to force overtime. They did tend to clump on the attack; a more open game with longer passes will help them not to be so vulnerable to individual beaters when on the offence.

Group B
1. Warwick Quidditch Club
Warwick played some very good-looking quidditch in the group stages, with excellent passing between chasers and incredible beating prowess bringing them an unlikely top spot heading into bracket play after beating SQC1 80*-40. Jacopo Sartori in particular stood out, never hesitating against opposing beaters and frequently dominating the mid-pitch area as a result, not to mention preventing an SQC1 snitch catch. He was supported impressively in defence by Hannah Dignum who has massively improved her on-pitch awareness and physical presence. The chasing abilities of Seb Waters and Luke Trevett were near unstoppable, the agility and positioning they utilised impressive enough to earn both a TeamUK training squad place. Ben Malpass, meanwhile, provided a solid alternative to these players, while Kat Jack’s movement and completion around the hoops builds on the clear talent she displayed when playing with the Nottingham Nightmares. James Burnett, thought to have moved beyond the peak of their career after stepping down from the Radcliffe Chimeras, was playing some of the best and most confident quidditch they have ever performed, their beats both assertive and clinical. Warwick’s effortless victories against the Portsmouth Horntail Strikers and the Quidlings were enough to set up what would be a tournament run further extended than many would have expected.

Seb Waters, keeping for Warwick Quidditch Club | Photo credit: Ajantha Abey

2. Southampton Quidditch Club Firsts (SQC1)
Southampton was obviously not at their best, having been hurt by a series of major player departures and an unfortunate run of injuries, but the team will still be disappointed by their third-place finish, having been crowned national champions in March. Key players like Jemma Thripp, Vincent Fouré, and Aaron Veale struggled with injury throughout the weekend, though several freshers stepped up notably Jordan Aymer-Jeffrey, Annabel Solnik, and Karol Kwasnicki while Ajay Gohil excelled as keeper. The team’s two SWIM defeats to Warwick will hurt, especially with Southampton having lost their two primary seekers since last season, but SQC firmly believes that their squad will recover and gel by BQC. Easy victories over the Quidlings and Portsmouth were expected, though tough matches against the Brizzlebears and Werewolves of London Quidditch confirmed that Southampton are, like the other top teams, no longer as dominant as they were last season. Still, a complete, fit SQC squad is capable of beating any team in the country, though they remain unlikely to escape snitch range against their very best rivals.

3. Oxford Quidlings
It is hard to get away from the fact that the Quidlings are a team that qualified for EQC 2015 and finished in the top 20 teams in Europe, and yet at this Southern Cup they struggled to beat Portsmouth, only taking the game with a SWIM catch after falling behind on pitch. An obvious answer to look at is the unprecedented promotion of fresher players into the Chimeras, such as Skiles and Fran Morris, but if captain Emily Hayes considers this to be the reason that the team underperformed, the issues will continue. A real lack of physicality and athleticism from new players meant that even their continued enthusiasm in the face of heavy defeats to Warwick and Southampton Quidditch Club Firsts (SCQ1) was not enough to give the team any real presence on pitch. These problems were thrown into the spotlight by unfortunate injuries to the only players capable of driving the quaffle Michael Holloway and Mark “Sid” Richardson forcing players into new positions (beater David Dlaka playing keeper being a notable example). With little leadership from the captain, and no genuine grasp of tactics, the few resources the Quidlings did have were far from utilised effectively. There were some positives in the beating of Hattie Elvins and the chasing of Dani Ellenby, while Ben Dawes was a tireless force wherever he was played. The team will now have an uphill battle to retain what progress has been made over the last year as their seedings at events will get worse, and they seriously risk reverting to the unambitious Chimera leftovers as which they began. This is a shame, especially at a time when second teams such as Southampton Quidditch Club Seconds (SQC2) are hitting new peaks, and is a poor reflection on OUQC as a wider club.

4. Portsmouth Horntail Strikers
Portsmouth entered the tournament with their only former game being a heavy defeat against their varsity matchup Southampton, and was therefore expected to settle to the bottom of the group with little resistance. Portsmouth certainly defied this expectation; the team dug their heels in hard against the Quidlings, pulling ahead on pitch before a Quidling snitch grab put an end to their hopes of finishing third in the group. The team also put hoops past both Southampton and Warwick; even if the games finished with unflattering scores for Portsmouth, Portsmouth should still be commended for admirable showings against exceedingly tough opponents. Keepers Peter Chambers and Jack Latoy in particular demonstrated a good knowledge of the game and confident direction, alongside their own athletic ability; the beater game was a little more chaotic, which paid off in some incidents and weakened the team in others. Disruptiveness to opposing beaters can pay dividends, so if Portsmouth learn to control this tendency in a way that does not leave them open to be exploited, it will serve the team well later on. Injury and fatigue eventually wore Portsmouth down, but they are not to be underestimated come BQC, as they could punch far above what some are expecting.

The Portsmouth Horntail Strikers | Photo credit: Ajantha Abey

Group C
1. Falmouth Falcons
Falmouth remain Falmouth: a slick, technical, well-balanced squad that focuses on excellent team play and a clever passing game. Unfortunately, windy and rainy conditions did not favour their playstyle, resulting in a tournament that required more focus on driving than usual, which seemed to throw the Falcons off. Despite topping their group, they showed signs of vulnerability against Reading and SQC2, a vulnerability which was ultimately exploited by the Brizzlebears in the quarterfinals. Katt Jeffrey and Conor Watson were quaffle standouts, while TeamUK members Alex Brown and Alicia Ackroyd thoroughly justified their selection with consistently outstanding beating. Falmouth’s consistency remains their greatest strength, but their relative lack of powerful quaffle driversespecially with the loss of Nathan Jones definitely hurt the team. The Falcons will be disappointed with their showing at Southern, having come within a whisker of the top four, but they remain a potent threat to any team outside the top four or five in the country.

Arielle Mileski, chasing for the Falmouth Falcons | Photo credit: Ajantha Abey

2. Southampton Quidditch Club Seconds (SQ2)
SQC2 gave a very good performance against the teams in their group, losing only to a competent Falmouth side. The team’s performance against Reading and the Norwich Nifflers made them the first second team to make it into the upper bracket of a regional tournament in the UK, and they did look like a fairly cohesive side. There was a clear understanding throughout the squad of positioning and communication which gives cause for optimism of the future of both SQC2 for the rest of the season, and of Southampton’s future as a club. Matteo Barraclough made a name for himself throughout the tournament, demonstrating great athleticism and confident quaffle drives. Experience in the beater lineup, most notably Matthew Drummond of last year’s SQC1 and Enrica Biasi from the 2013-14 Chimeras squad, balanced out the occasional chaos in the quaffle game.

3. Reading Rocs
It is undeniable that Reading Rocs entered this tournament under a cloud of suspicion, with many supposing that they would not offer much worthy of discussion, especially after important losses to the lineup. The Rocs surpassed these expectations, demonstrating some very promising signs, particularly in pool play. Although they were relegated to the lower bracket here, they showed signs of being able to push into the mid-table over the course of this season, pushing back against expectations with development of their quaffle play and an absolutely excellent tournament from captain Chris Thomas. His inventiveness and tirelessness when on pitch made a huge difference to the Rocs’ overall performance, playing no small part in the game against Falmouth where people were surprised to see the Rocs hold the Cornish side in SWIM for a significant period. Further success for the Rocs could lie in Thomas’ ability to tutor the other beaters to emulate him so that they do not suffer so much when he subs off. In the quaffle game, Molly Whitaker distinguished herself with excellent pitch awareness and technical ability, and the additions of John Calzoari, Charlie Stock, and Finley Williams gave the Rocs a dimension of physicality that they have lacked for some time.

4. Norwich Nifflers
The Nifflers came into Southern Cup as one of the older but less developed teams in the region. However, despite not claiming a win and ending at the bottom of their group, there was a lot that was encouraging about their weekend. They successfully limited Falmouth to 80 points before Norwich cold caught to end the match 80-40*, a score they can and should use to bolster confidence and build ambition. The highlight of their tournament was however the 70*-40 SWIM loss against Reading. Norwich had a decent defence, but lacked an organised or tactically-coherent attack, something that will come with experience. Georgie Rumney, Kieran Pratt, and Tim Thomas all contributed to this defence, with good performances over the weekend. Tom Claydon proved to be a strong and physical quaffle player, but he needs greater discipline so as not to be a liability with cards. As Reading is a resurgent team looking to strengthen and become a formidable presence, this result shows more than anything that this is a path Norwich can take should they choose to. Norwich certainly has the talent; with the current squad playing an impressive tournament, and with a significant bout of recruitment, it will be important for Norwich take the positives from this weekend and consolidate the strengths they possess.

Group D
1. Werewolves of London Quidditch
Following a great deal of conjecture, the Werewolves had a strong first tournament. Although they had fewer players than had been rumoured, their lineup was impressively consistent; the core strength of the team was their four excellent beaters who worked well in any combination. Natalie A’Bear and Ben Lawrence were the real stars of the lineup, holding bludger control for the majority of their games, but A’Bear also worked well with Sasha Burgoyne, a pairing which proved completely impenetrable. Phil Sam provided a completely different option with a contrasting playstyle. Alex Harrison was the driving force of the quaffle lineup while Daniel Thripp performed well as a utility player. The team had no backup keeper to Simon Bidwell, so the team fell apart somewhat after his injury in the quarterfinal. A lack of depth and practice together meant that the Werewolves were not as good as the sum of their parts; there is a great deal of individual talent here, but they have still not yet managed to combine their abilities. For this reason we should expect an improvement between now and BQC, after they have had longer to train.

Simon Bidwell & Sasha Burgoyne, keeping and beating for Werewolves of London Quidditch | Photo credit: Ajanatha Abey

2. Brizzlebears
The Brizzlebears entered the Southern Cup with lofty ambitions and the talent to match. Despite being considered a less physical team, the Bears’ quaffle lineup was packed full of tough, powerful players who never shied away from the tackle. A deep bench of quality versatile players Tom Ower, Ollie Bridgen, newly minted TeamUK member Josh Blannin, Dominic Ayre, Isabella Aston, and Stephen Fung among them kept the Brizzlebears’ level high no matter what lineup was fielded, while a fantastic beater game led by Emma Isle, Luke Stevens, Jodie Mee, and the talismanic Matthew Nugent saw the Bears retain control for long stretches against some of the best beater lineups in the country. A narrow 70*-40 defeat to the Werewolves of London was an early disappointment, but the Brizzlebears bounced back by beating the Swansea Seven Swans and grinding out a tough 90*-20 victory over the London Unspeakables in grim conditions to secure a place in the quarterfinals. Their play improved hugely on the second day of the tournament, but clear signs of their quality were there to see from the beginning. As team chemistry improves, the Brizzlebears will only get better and better.

3. Swansea Seven Swans
The Seven Swans had only competed at Whiteknights the Third before Southern Cup, where their SWIM victory over the Norwich Nifflers hinted at their ability to cause an upset. They duly did, beating the London Unspeakables 90*-20 in their first match. Swansea’s strength was built on their quaffle game, with Ed Brett, Haris Siddique, and Calum Learoyd standing out as tough, fast, physical players, though their unorthodox underarm passing and shooting was easy for opposing teams to exploit. Conversely, Swansea’s major weakness at the moment is their beater game, which saw the team possess bludger control for a tiny fraction of their three group matches (admittedly against three very strong beater lineups). Swansea’s impressive win over the Unspeakables was followed by two substantial defeats to the Werewolves and Brizzlebears, but the team had already exceeded expectations by winning their first match. Swansea’s current crop of players have a high ceiling as a team thanks to their physical tools, though the team can only improve as fast as their players’ technical skills do.

Ed Brett & Tom Heal, advancing the quaffle for the Swansea Seven Swans | photo credit: Ajantha Abey

4.  The London Unspeakables
After disappointing results in their season to date, the London Unspeakables recognise that they are currently in a rebuilding period. Numerous new players made their competitive debuts at the Southern Cup in Unspeakables purple and performed well, with Nicholas Howson a particular standout, but the team did not gel well as a competitive unit. Multiple hoops were conceded against Swansea as a result of botched napalming attempts, and the team is overly reliant on Sam Senior in their offensive quaffle play. Encouraging signs are there, especially in the resilient, hard-fought defeats to the Brizzlebears and Werewolves, but the Unspeakables know they have work to do to claw their way back to the competitive heights they hit last season.


Brizzlebears 100*-90 Falmouth Falcons (2OT)
The Falcons led 70-10 at one point during this dramatic game, dominating the first half of regular time and missing several opportunities to extend their lead, but a stirring rearguard action of exceptional beater play and a handful of spectacular hoops allowed the Brizzlebears to fight back to 70-40. Almost as soon as snitch Connor Simpson went down to no arms, Fung made the catch to force overtime. The Brizzlebears took an initial 20-point lead, but the Falcons fought back to force double overtime with less than one minute remaining. A chaotic scramble after brooms up saw the quaffle run loose to captain Tom Ower on the keeper line, who scored to give the Brizzlebears a sensational win. Both sides played immensely well, with excellent play all over the pitch; Brown, Jeffery, and Watson were exceptional for Falmouth, while Alicia Ackroyd’s performance earned her a place in the TeamUK training squad. Ower, Stevens, Isle, and Blannin starred for the Brizzlebears, though picking out individual players does a disservice to two great team performances. Falmouth will know they could and perhaps should have won this match, but the Brizzlebears made their own luck and marched on to an improbable semifinal berth.

Radcliffe Chimeras 130-50* Southampton Quidditch Club Seconds
Southampton’s second team was unlikely to worry the Chimeras, but SQC2 did give them a couple of scares. There is plenty of evidence of unpolished talent in the SQC2 squad, especially in the quaffle game, with new keeper Callum Day showing pitch intuition and direction beyond his experience. Georgie Adair was a significant presence, never shirking from contact and demonstrating confidence in stepping up on the defence. The wind was so disruptive to the game that referees had to hold down the balls before brooms-up, and there were repeated problems with the hoops, so the Chimeras largely had to resort to driving through players rather than their preferred passing around the hoops; this was inelegant but effective, and goals of this style represent the majority of the Chimeras’ scoreline. The Chimeras’ lax attitude towards the snitch was capitalised on intuitively, with a cold catch by Harvey Rampton, a promising seeker, ending their tournament on a high and demonstrating a bright future for the SQC dynasty.

Southampton Quidditch Club Firsts 110*-10 Werewolves of London
Simon Bidwell returned to face the club he led to British Quidditch Cup glory in March, this time captaining the Werewolves. Both teams played intelligently, their playstyles both having been built on Bidwell’s tactical foundation. Initially, the Werewolves held their own, with Lawrence and A’Bear dominating bludger control against a frustrated SQC1. Bidwell broke his hand just when it seemed that Werewolves slowing down play would be sufficient to remain in SWIM range, exposing the Werewolves’ biggest weakness: their lack of depth at keeper. This meant that they had to put in players who were clearly inexperienced at keeper, such as Lawrence, and harmed their quaffle game.

Following this, the powerful SQC1 quaffle offence and an aggressive beater counterattack led by Alex Carpenter and Alex Greenhalgh, along with the Werewolves’ waning energy, enabled SQC1 to pull ahead and reach the semifinals. Southampton were not at their best, depleted by injuries and hampered by several key players carrying knocks into the game - Veale and Fouré among them - but the team’s strength in depth, perhaps their greatest weapon as a team, limited the impact of injuries.

Warwick Quidditch Club 130*-40 Taxes Quidditch
In another match where the wind wreaked havoc upon the teams’ preferred playing styles, Warwick took a comfortable victory from Taxes as the hindering effects of the latter team’s small squad size started to show. Warwick took an early lead with their strongest starting line, showcasing once more the abilities of Trevett and Malpass, as well as the recurring name of Seb Waters. The beater play was more well-matched, with Taxes swapping around their players’ positions with abandon, including chaser/seeker William Johnson coming on in a black headband, and Taxes did manage to take control for a middle portion of the match. Svaluto and McLaughlin both put in hoops for the Taxes side before Warwick regained bludger control and caught the snitch to earn the dubious pleasure of an SQC rematch in the semifinals.

Warwick Quidditch Club | Photo credit: Ajantha Abey

Lower bracket
Very few of the lower bracket games were played due to scheduling problems.


Warwick Quidditch Club 80*-30 Southampton Quidditch Club Firsts
The rematch of Southampton Quidditch Club Firsts and Warwick University Quidditch Club, squaring up for the third time this season with a 1-1 record behind them, had a great deal at stake for both teams. Warwick was desperate to prove that their SWIM win against SQC1 the day before was not a fluke; the defending British champions were looking to consolidate that position and re-establish their authority. With the scoreline almost identical to the 80*-40 victory Warwick seized over SQC1 in the group stages, neither team looked particularly potent in the quaffle game, more as a result of both sides’ strong defences than a reflection of a weakness in their offence. The speed and agility of Trevett and Waters was dispatched by the command of Charlie Taylor and Fouré in goal as well as Thripp’s tenacity. Meanwhile, the boost from Warwick’s earlier performances only served to strengthen the tactical and economical beating of James Burnett and Dignum, combining with the leadership of Waters to limit SQC1’s usually powerful attacks to a mere three hoops during the game. The stability brought to Warwick’s defensive line bolstered their confidence, and exposed a lack of depth in the SQC1 attacking style. However, the match was won in the mid-game beating, with Sartori building on his impressive group stage performance to outplay Greenhalgh and Imy Gregg repeatedly, earning Warwick precious space and time on the quaffle , and Jonathan Purvis another SWIM catch to end the game 80*-30 to Warwick. Although SQC1 will have been disappointed not to have proven their defeat to Warwick earlier an unfortunate one-off, the team will be pleased by the beating of Kerry Aziz and the power of Kwasnicki.

Radcliffe Chimeras 90*-20 Brizzlebears
For a while, it looked like the Brizzlebears might actually pull off what would be among the greatest upsets in UK quidditch history. In a game thrown into chaos by gale-force winds, the Bears wielded their beater game to great effect and threw themselves into tackle after tackle, stymieing the Chimeras’ quaffle offence, which was forced to rely on drives due to the wind. The Brizzlebears remained in snitch range for most of the match, with two quickfire hoops from Tom Heynes proving crucial after a long period of stalemate. The Brizzlebears’ defensive game in response to the conditions flummoxed the Chimeras at first, but the reigning Southern Cup champions were able to put together a strategy based on aggressive bludger play and multiple strong quaffle drivers which ultimately ended the Brizzlebears’ heroic resistance after a snitch grab by Mark Richards. It was arguably the Brizzlebears’ greatest ever team performance, and they came tantalisingly close to what would have been a titanic upset.

Third-place playoff

Southampton Quidditch Club Firsts 100*-0 Brizzlebears
With a place at the European Quidditch Cup potentially at stake and the Brizzlebears playing well, Southampton could not afford to let their second defeat to Warwick in as many days demoralise the team - and they didn’t. SQC1 played a disciplined, tactical game, their beaters being the first all tournament to dominate bludger control against the Brizzlebears. The result was never truly in doubt after Southampton pulled away early. Clever play from SQC1’s beaters gave Fouré several no-bludger situations which he exploited mercilessly, and the Bears’ quaffle offence was blunted against a red wall of committed, physical chasers. Fraser Posford and Joel Davis performed excellently, while Fouré’s unstoppable runs and frequent saves arguably made him the most important player, though Carpenter and Gregg were also on top form.


Radcliffe Chimeras 130*-90 Warwick Quidditch Club
The Southern Cup final pitted the UK’s greatest quidditch dynasty against the team whose development they guided from the very beginning. The students could not quite overcome the masters, with the Chimeras retaining the trophy after a nail-biting, exhilarating encounter. Warwick’s beaters were phenomenal, with Sartori, James Hewitt, and ex-Chimera James Burnett all outstanding, while Dignum counterbalanced their aggression well to keep the defence tight. Waters and Trevett starred in the quaffle game. It was the usual suspects for the Chimeras; Twist seemed to have a hand in every Chimera hoop and had four (four!) snitch catches disallowed, while Heynes, Hull, and Ashley Cooper all played excellent games. Jamie Cash and new promotion Patel proved a very effective beater pair to counter Warwick’s aggressive game. Walker and Rix Dishington held the hoops down well with a strong performance throughout. It is, however, true to say that not many beaters could have stood against Sartori had he been able to play the whole game.

The Chimeras initially threatened to pull out of range, taking a 50-20 lead at one stage, but Warwick rallied brilliantly to score three consecutive hoops. After that, there were never more than ten points between the teams, either of whom would have been very worthy winners. With snitch Simpson on pitch, Warwick’s Purvis came close several times, but Twist’s unfortunate run of disallowed catches and Warwick’s lack of a dependable sub for Purvis both indicate that Warwick still have one weakness left to fix. TeamUK coach Ash Cooper finally made the decisive catch, ending an enthralling and incredibly tight final in the reigning champions’ favour.


After delivering some thrilling games and some new stars establishing themselves, Southern completes the other half of the early season picture and sets up an incredibly exciting BQC with many teams jostling for the top spots. Although teams in the lower bracket paid the price for scheduling difficulties, quite a few aspects of the tournament were well-run, and many thanks should go to Sally Higginson and the organising committee for the weekend.

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