Velociraptors QC 160* – 40 Werewolves of London
Head Referee: Ashara Peiris
Assistant Referee: Tom Challinor, Brandon Fitz-Gerald
Snitch Runner: Joseph Wilson
Snitch Ref: Steve Cockram
The semi-final of BQC 2017 between Velociraptors QC and the Werewolves of London promised to be a match to remember as the highest-ranking community teams of the North and South fought for a place in the BQC 2017 final and the chance to be crowned national champion.
However from the off, and setting the tone for the rest of the match, play was halted soon after brooms up with a yellow card to Werewolves beater Luke Twist for sliding, a yellow card for Brian Wong for dangerous play and a blue card for Velociraptor beater Dan Trick for a false start. Capitalising on the Werewolves being two players down, Velociraptors raced out into a 10-0 lead, with Andrew Hull finishing off a strong drive by James Thanangadan despite the best efforts of Jan Mikolajczak and Vince Fouré. With Thanangadan requiring an injury substitution play was once again paused.
With both teams now only down one beater each, Werewolves of London attempted to equalize the score. However a strong tackle from Ashley Cooper on Fouré prevented the Werewolves keeper from getting away a clean shot, and it then fell to Cooper to make the score 20-0 in favour of the team in pink as he took advantage of some lax defending from the London side. The next possession for Werewolves of London proved more fruitful, at least at first, with Luke Twist causing chaos in the Raptors beater line, Fouré could drive through and this time provide the finish. Unfortunately the hoop was called no good with Twist receiving a blue card for inadvertently interacting with a bludger after beat, nullifying the hoop and allowing Raptors the opportunity to take the game to overtime range early on.
A combination of a strong body check by Brian Wong and good dodging by Mikolajczak forced Raptors' Keeper Hull to take an unlikely shot, presenting the quaffle back to the Werewolves of London and providing a stay of the dreaded 30-0 scoreline. With the Werewolves being a player down, it would’ve been wise to slow the pace and wait for the return of their beater from the box, however showing a certain naivety and eagerness to get on the score sheet, they provided an opportunity for the Raptors characteristically aggressive beaters to force a poor pass. The poor pass led to another brooms down and an illegal reset call by Head Referee Ashara Peiris, a decision that incensed Werewolves Captain Simon Bidwell, and most importantly on brooms up presented Ashley Cooper with an uncontested run to the hoops to make the score 30-0.
Despite another stoppage of play, the Werewolves of London crafted themselves a fantastic goal-scoring chance. Excellent beating from Mikolajczak around the Raptors hoops created a window of opportunity and gained bludger dominance for the Werewolves of London for the first time. Only a good defensive block from Andrew Hull could stop the Werewolves from getting on the scoresheet. Immediately Werewolves put their bludger dominance to good use, this time forcing the Raptors into a poor pass, leading to another controversial illegal reset call from the officials. With Fiona Howat presented the quaffle near the hoops for the resumption of play, a last ditch beat from Raptor’s Dan Trick frustrated the Werewolves causing Howat’s accurate shot to be ruled out for beat before release.
With the Velociraptors swapping Dan Trick with Angus Barry on their beater line up, it wasn’t long until Barry received a card for back contact. The Werewolves of London on the other hand persisted with the pair of Luke Twist and Jan Mikolajczak until an injury to Twist called for the introduction of Chris Thomas. The stop-start nature of the game prevented either team from gaining any true momentum before Twist’s injury, the only true difference between the two sides was that the Raptors were more clinical. However with Twist’s injury, the loss of one of Werewolves’ strongest beaters proved to be a turning point.
Hull and Jackie Woodburn swiftly scored another two hoops for the Velociraptors, taking the score to 50-0 after a nice mid-range shot and good interplay around the hoops. With the Raptors in the ascendancy and the Werewolves increasingly frustrated at what they felt were missed-calls and injustices by the refs, the game started to slip away from the London community team. Another missed opportunity provided the Raptors with a fast break opportunity and a good pass-off from Hull to Thanangadan around the mid-point took the score to 60-0 before a further lengthy stoppage in play.
On brooms up the Werewolves made wholesale changes in an attempt to get back into the game. Switching out of the two male beater set and bringing in Natalie A’Bear at beater, Alex Greenhalgh at keeper and Tom Norton at chaser the Werewolves attempted to swing momentum back their way. Although A’Bear briefly regained bludger control for the Werewolves, her chasers could still not capitalize on any opportunities, and despite the pace of the game increasing, it was Raptors who continued to extend their lead with Hull and Thanangadan extending the score to 80-0 on the back of two well executed fast breaks.
In a brief change of fortunes, the Werewolves chaser Tom Norton succeeded in scoring two goals in two attacks. The first of goal came off the back of some good beater play from A’Bear and the second was a good finish after a delay of game call made against the Raptors. Both hoops brought huge cheers from the Werewolf substitute box and their supporters, and captain Bidwell must have been left wondering what could’ve been had he rung the changes earlier.
The next attack for Raptors once again highlighted the difference between the two sides. Where Werewolves had failed to capitalise on opportunities earlier, the Raptors had not, and another clinical offense took the score to 90-20. A flat pass played by Hull to Warren McFadyen behind the hoops was duly dispatched through the hoop.
Inspired by their quick-fire two goals, Werewolves appeared to be a lot more optimistic as they attempted to claw their way back into the game. Their third hoop was somewhat fortuitous, receiving the quaffle after another contested illegal reset call, Tom Norton’s shot bounced off the back of Lucy Q into the hoop. The Raptors were determined not to allow the Werewolves any opportunity to mount a comeback however. Lucy Q, who’d been a thorn in the Werewolves’ side all game, engineered a no bludgers situation for Thanangadan to drive into before passing off to Evan Edmond, who’d made a late darting run into the keeper zone, for an easy finish.
With the score at 100-30 and a full 30 minutes after brooms up due the the number of stoppages snitch runner, Joseph Wilson, was released. Superb defensive seeking was needed by the Werewolves of London to stall any opportunity of a Velociraptors to catch and although being beaten numerous times by Velociraptor Lucy Edlund, Werewolves seeker Fiona Howat proved to be ideally suited for the task as she fought off opposition seekers Jay Holmes, Dan Trick and Ben Morton.
Away from the seeker game, the brooms down continued with cards being awarded to both teams for numerous indiscretions. With the Werewolves having to force the issue to try and get back into the game, their defense started to be picked apart by composed Velociraptor attacks, and what looked like an incredibly unlikely comeback before the snitch on pitch became the impossible.
With Howat tiring, Natasha Ferenczy continued her teammate's efforts as she blocked attempts at catching Joseph Wilson by Velociraptors captain Tom Heynes. After Ferenczy was sent back to hoops, Heynes caught the snitch however it was announced as no good. Another catch by Heynes just under a minute later was called good, ending the game with the final score at 160*-40.
A stop-start game with what seemed a record-breaking amount of brooms down, the match was certainly not the smoothest seen at BQC 2017 as the teams scrapped for success. Although it cannot be doubted that it was not the result the Werewolves of London were looking for almost an hour earlier, the incredible beating and clinical play of the Raptors made them worthy winners.
With the catch, Velociraptors QC secured their place in the BQC final to face the Brizzlebears with the gold medal in their sights.
Article by Emma Bramwell.