Men’s National Club Championship
Cheadle 11-10 Spencer
A superb performance from England International Nick Watson made the difference in an enthralling Men’s National Club Championship final between Cheadle and Spencer.
Watson bagged 8 of Cheadle’s 11 goals proving a constant thorn in the sparrows’ side all day long demonstrating pin-point accuracy and power that Spencer could simply not contain.
Cheadle went in to the game as favourites against Spencer who accepted the invitation to compete after SEMLA champions Hampstead decided they could not enter a team. However, with Cheadle unexpectedly losing their unbeaten record in the Northern Flags Final and Spencer turning over Hampstead to win a sixth consecutive Southern Flags, a close contest could have been expected.
And a close contest was exactly what was delivered, although when Watson completed a 5-minute hat trick early in the 1st quarter to put Cheadle 3-0 ahead it looked like being a long afternoon for Spencer.
However, they regrouped and began to take advantage of spaces left in the Cheadle defence and by half-time had managed to drag themselves back to parity at 6-6.
The confidence gained after the initial setback continued in to the 3rd with Spencer eventually getting themselves in front, leading 8-7 at ¾ time.
If the Spencer team were beginning to think of pulling off a shock victory, the pressure didn’t seem to be getting to them as they extended their lead to 10-8 with 12 minutes to play.
However, in desperate times Cheadle were able to call on marksman Watson every time and he finished the game as he started, firing in three unanswered goals to complete the turnaround and see the Northern champions over the line.
Women’s National Club Championship
Oxton 15-4 Bristol Bombers
Centaurs 25-3 Bristol Bombers (15-3) Mercy ruling
Centaurs 10 – 10 Oxton
In the Women’s competition, the three winners of the North, South East and South West leagues took part in a round-robin tournament to decide the National champions.
After Oxton and then Centaurs sealed comfortable victories against a spirited Bristol Bombers side, the two teams went head to head with the winners being crowned National Club Champions.
The match up also provided an intriguing pre-cursor to the 2017 Rathbones Women’s Lacrosse World Cup with a distinct England v Wales feeling running through the match.
Oxton’s squad featured England team members Torz Anderson, Sophie Brett, Charlotte Lytollis and Olivia Wimpenny with Sophie Morrill coming up against her team mates, representing Centaurs.
Meanwhile, the Centaurs team featured no less than five players who will represent Wales in Guildford this summer and the contest certainly whetted the appetite for what’s to come in July.
The sides put on a high-quality display of lacrosse with the lead changing hands multiple times but with no side gaining more than a 1-goal lead for much of the game.
Centaurs led 5-4 at half-time but the game continued to swing back and forth until the last 10 minutes when Oxton appeared to have broken the Centaurs fight as the Wirral side took a 10-8 lead with 6:00 minutes to go.
With three fewer players in their squad, and an uncharacteristically warm Manchester day sapping the energy from the players, Centaurs took a timeout to regroup and the chance to refocus worked wonders.
Oxton attempted to hold possession and work the ball around their attack to run down the clock; however, some wayward passing and aggressive defence from Centaurs presented turnover opportunities and Centaurs made those chances pay, pulling back the two-goal deficit to take the score to 10-10 with just 30 seconds left.
Neither side could score in time remaining and with the game finishing as a draw, the tournament was decided by the fate of the goal differential rule.
With the 11-goal difference from Oxton’s match against Bristol, up against the 12-goal difference from the Centaurs match after applying the mercy rule, Centaurs took the title by the narrowest of margins.
Congratulations to both Cheadle and Centaurs who will now represent England at the 2017 European Club Championships (Ken Galluccio Cup) in Belgium in September.
Manchester Challenge Youth Tournament
The Manchester Challenge once again ran alongside the National Club Championships with more competitors than ever before, 46 teams and over 500 juniors, took part across two days of excellent youth competition be crowned Manchester Challenge champions.
Girls Under 11 – Mellor 3-2 Stockport
Boys Under 12 – Stockport 5-4 Cheadle
Girls Under 13 – Timperley 7-1 Mellor
Boys Under 14 – Norbury/Cheadle 6-3 Sheffield Steelers
Girls Under 15 – Mellor 6-3 Oxton Purple
Boys Under 16 – Mellor 6-2 Rochdale