Brizzlebears 110* - 30 London Unspeakables
The third place playoff was arguably one of the two most important games of the Southern Cup: this game, and the 16th vs 17th playoff, were the only matches counting as direct qualifiers for future tournaments. The EQC qualifying match, the Brizzlebears vs The London Unspeakables, was a rematch of a Day One group stage game which had concluded 120*-50 in the Bears’ favour. With the previous match having finished just ten points out of SWIM, both teams were convinced of their ability to take the bronze and, with that, the coveted EQC spot.
Although they gained quaffle possession on brooms-up, the Bears fired a blank with their first attack shut down by a well-timed beat from London captain Matt Bateman. The Unspeakables were careful with quaffle control when it was gained, Alex Macartney waiting for the perfect moment to make passes to wing chasers, and the game continued slowly. The Unspeakables scored first after Viral Patel received a card for a dubious kick attempt at hoops. Due to a lack of concentration on the Bears’ defence’s part, unmarked player Alberto Garcia Salvador received a long pass in the keeper zone and scored with ease. On the counterattack, offensive beating from Aaron Brett-Miller forced awkward passing amongst the London chaser line and cleared the way for Ollie Bridgen to drive to hoops. The next two hoops were scored in exactly the same way, in an unimaginative but effective hat-trick. A quick break and long shot from Tom Ower put the game at 40-10 to the Bears.
Ower’s long shot was followed by a series of attacks which were shut down in the keeper zone on both sides. Glory Tan of the Unspeakables and Gabby FitzGerald on the opposing side both demonstrated excellent space-finding ability before being neutralised by scrappy defences. The dry spell was broken by Bears captain Alistair Goodwin clearing a path for Ower to score his second of the match, making the score 50-10. For the next few minutes both teams managed to threaten in the keeper zone but sloppy mistakes, including lobbed balls and missed shots, kept the scoreline low. Marking tightened up, especially on the Bears’ side where they realised the threat which the Unspeakables chasers could pose in the wing, and Samantha Frolich was instrumental in locking down London’s options. A series of nice passes between the whole Bears chaser line gave the first hoop of the game involving more than two quaffle players, and set the scoreline at 60-10. However, the Unspeakables successfully regained bludger control during the Bear’s successful offence, and a quick counterattack spearheaded by a Bateman napalm attempt was shut down by a strong tackle by Bridgen at hoops.
Two goalless attacks later, Bears keeper Josh Blannin picked up a card for illegal contact in his keeper zone. The Unspeakables reset off this situation, and a successful long shot from Ben Pooley put the scoreline at 60-20. The Bears fluffed their next attack, with a pass which hit the hoops, giving Keeper Macartney the opportunity to respond with a nicely timed drive. He was beat by Luke Stevens just before scoring, and at this point, the score just 40 points separated, the seekers went on. Unspeakables seeker Pedro Gonzalez Tarrío was beat out immediately, in a move demonstrating the beater focus on snitch which would characterise the rest of the game.
Both teams capitalised on the snitch game commanding the beaters’ attention, with Bears scoring a hoop which the Unspeakables quickly answered, taking the score to 70-30. The Unspeakables retained bludger control for a significant amount of time here, varying combinations of Monique Davis, Martin Mornar, and Ashara Peiris confidently covering the seeker but suffering from lack of support in the quaffle game. After the Bears regained bludger control, they capitalised on the stretched focus of the Unspeakables beaters to take the score up to 80-30 and most importantly, with Brett-Miller guarding the snitch, Dominic Ayre found the space to make a clean catch with no interference, securing 3rd place and a spot at EQC 2017 with the final score 110*-30 to the Brizzlebears.
Article by Abby Whiteley.