By Harry Grocott
A 04:15 alarm could only mean one thing, Loughborough away. Despite Touch being well known as a summer sport the midlands is yet to accept this fact and presented sides with cold conditions and snow to kick the day off.
The group stages saw teams warming up very quickly, with notable scores going to Loughborough Lions who opened the day with an 8-0 win over UEA, clearly laying down the challenge as hosts. Exeter Dragons replied in their group with a very respectable 6-0 win over Loughborough Legends, after which Bath demonstrated how they have been the team to beat so far this series with an 8-1 victory over Loughborugh Legends. The grou stages were finished with another large win from the hosts, Loughborough Lions, with a 7-0 win over Bristol Badgers, a 5-0 victory for Exeter Titans vs Southampton, and 4-1 win for Bristol Honeys over Exeter Pumas.
The knockout stages saw the largest points margin over the day with Exeter Titans finally finding the rhythm with a 9-0 victory over Bristol Badgers, equaling the combined scores of two of the other Cup Quarters games combined, and were joined by Bath, Loughborough Lions and Bristol Honeys in the Cup Semis.
In the Bowl quarters Surrey progressed to the semis with a tight 2-1 win over Southampton Stags, and were joined by Oxford, Lougborough Legends and Exeter Rhinos.
The Bowl semi-finals saw 4-0 victories to both Loughborough Legends and Oxford, seeing off Surrey and Exeter Rhinos in the process. The Spoon Semis saw the first victory for debutants Birmingham, with a 3-1 victory over Southampton Stags, who would meet UEA in the Spoon Finals.
The Plate semis saw the only drop offs of the day with Exeter Pumas scoring in their first set and withstanding Bristol Badgers’ right of reply to win 4-3, and would meet fellow team Exeter Dragons who beat Loughborough Legends 5-1.
The Cup semis saw two fantastically high quality games with Loughborough Lions continuing their unbeaten record in the tournament with a 4-1 victory over Bristol Honeys. The other Semi Final saw the result of the day with Exeter Titans beating Bath Hawks 3-1, ending Bath’s unbeaten record so far this season and cementing a Loughborugh vs Exeter final.
The finals saw the first piece of silverware for Birmingham on their debut, as they won the Spoon Final 3-2 over UEA. The Bowl Final was won in emphatic style by Oxford who thumped Loughborough Legends 8-0, making up for their loss in the previous tournament at the same stage.
The Plate Final was a rather selfish all-Exeter affair, with Exeter Dragons beating compatriots Exeter Pumas 4-1 to take home the plate. The third-place playoff was won by a vengeful Bath Hawks team in a tight 5-4 game against Bristol Honeys, the hosts of UTS 4.
The Cup final saw the culmination of the day’s events with host’s Loughborough Legends defending home soil, and last year’s Cup victory, against Exeter Titans. Exeter Titans went down to an early score and never really recovered their confidence from this early set back, and ended up going down 2-1 in a very high paced end to the day.
A big thank you should go to both Mike Green who helped to bring together the highest number of full-time referees to date, to Stephen Dubreuil for coaching the referees and assessing George Thorpe (UEA Club Captain) to become yet another UTS qualified Level 1 Referee, and lastly to Loughborough and Rhys Jones for hosting!
We look forwards to being hosted in Bristol for UTS 4.