SEMLA – Hampstead turn on the style to set up semi final with Spencer

A diversion from league duties with a weekend of Flags action but there was no deviation for success-locked Spencer who blazed to a 24-1 victory over Bristol.

The shell-shocked Bombers have to lick their wounds and face their conquerors again for a league game this Saturday.

The game of the round saw Hampstead travel to Hillcroft for the battle of the turf teams with the North Londoners edging a highly competitive game 8-6.

The win sets them up to play Spencer in the semi-finals.

Hampstead put out their strongest line-up of the season and used their vast experience to overcome Hillcroft who got the lion’s share of face-off possession from Zak Jordan and jumped out to a lead thanks to the clinical finishing of Duncan Trenholme.

But Hampstead, featuring some new faces playing for the first time this season, gradually knitted together and got on the scoresheeet through Tim Fuchs and a behind the back strike from Colin Shaw.

The home team had a 3-2 1st quarter lead but it was level at 5s by half time with neither side able to pull clear with both keepers on form. The men in black were a goal down going into the final quarter but managed to score three and shut out Hillcroft, with Fuchs getting his fourth and Alex Adler putting it beyond reach with a crease dive goal.

“Hillcroft were very well prepared and well organised and could easily have won this game if Hampstead had lost focus,” said Dennis Tobin. “ If the same Hillcroft team takes the field at the Blues this coming weekend, that will definitely be the Premiership’s match of the day as both teams are very strong and that game could then go either way.”

Hampstead has a two-week break before returning to Hillcroft for a league game and then entertaining Blues at the Westway.

Hillcroft skipper Eoin Dunne was full of praise for his team’s efforts despite the tough loss. “Hampstead brought probably the strongest team I’ve seen them have in years,” he said. “I was really proud of the spirit, determination and execution we showed against a team laden with ex-NCAA players.

“We competed throughout the game and were never behind until the last quarter where we lost out to some more experienced players. For the first three quarters we played our best lacrosse of the season and scored some nice goals against a very strong defence and goalie. We take a lot of encouragement from the game.”

Trenholme scored three in a strong showing and keeper Rhydian Robinson was impressive, coming up with a number of big saves.

This week they travel to Blues for a much anticipated league clash.

The Banstead club cruised past Purley 14-6, who had made them struggle for supremacy in an earlier league fixture. They will face Reading in the other semi after they blew past Welwyn 26-6.

Matt Birkett’s face off dominance and James Kidd’s sharp-shooting were the big Blues factors in an easier encounter this time round.

Skipper Dave Cluney weighed in with a hat-trick in the powerful display. He said: “We stormed to an early lead and moved through the gears relentlessly.”

Matt Bagley, Dave Howie and Pete Ross were the other scorers and the Blues defence produced high-grade hustle and take aways to destabilise Purley’s attack.

But they had to regroup when Ed Simkin-Byrne took out young goalie Rich Smith in a collision and Toby Martlew had to dwell between the pipes for the last ten minutes.

“Although there is always room for improvement, the Blues boys were happy with their day at the office and have one eye on the approaching fixtures,” added Cluney.

Purley are re-focussing on the league and a crucial fortnight with games against East Grinstead and Welwyn.

“Blues played efficiently and scored in a couple of flurries, in what was generally a tight game,” said skipper Dave Copple. “We know that we have two big league games coming up where it’ll be important to pickup some points.”

Rob Holmes was also pleased with his team’s professional approach and confidence is surging through Spencer.

Joe Darkins was again the destroyer with 6 goals and numerous assists.

“It was a strong attacking performance and we are really coming together as a team,” said co-captain Holmes. “Joe was MVP and Eddie Vita got a hat full of assists”

“Hampstead in the semi will be a challenge with them seemingly able to pull in some big guns for certain games. Having said that we are playing much better team lax now than when we beat them last time.

“Blues in a couple of weeks has come at a great time for us, we are hitting top form and are ready for the challenge.”

Flags Results
Hillcroft 6 – 8 Hampstead
Purley 6 – 14 Blues
Spencer 24 – 1 Bristol Bombers
Welwyn 6 – 26 Reading

Bristol Bombers v Spencer
East Grinstead v Purley
Reading v Welwyn
Blues v Hillcroft