The Hornets team travelled to Birmingham feeling confident after a trophy winning and always improving display in London. The draw offered up a game against an opposition not faced before this season- Hot Custard. With custard currently ranked 3rd against Hornet’s 6th they should have been the favourites for the game. Cambridge however fancied their chances and trained hard to prepare for what the game would throw at them. It was a dream start to the tournament with the Hornets scoring 4 in quick succession and leaving Hot Custard wondering how they could ever get back into the game. The ‘Knoop Scoop’ was ripping holes in the defence and despite playing chicken with the fence close to the dead ball line the team held on to their convincing lead.
This was also thanks to an ever improving defensive display with a skilled and experienced Custard side having to work extremely hard to create any chances. Glenn Jones continued his defensive work rate from previous tournaments, however was kind enough to allow Matthew Maynard to do a fair amount of work on the line as well. A fine array of scores and scorers ended with a final score of 8-5 and Hornets marching on to their first cup semi-final of the season. With 7 different players (Nicky, Sue-Ellen, Glenn, Ben P, Sam, Knoop and Lucy) finding their way on to the scoresheet there was much to be positive about for the attacking options for the rest of the day.
With three iterations of the draw happening, each with a different opponent the team waited in anticipation. Would it be the showcase semi against BBR, the ‘easier’ game against Galaxy or a rematch against Scorpions for the fourth time this season? The draw was eventually corrected and it would be Scorpions who stood between Hornets and a likely meeting with BBR in the final. It was a much closer game than the first of the day, but the feeling in the hornets camp was that it would be fourth time lucky in trying to get a result against this talented team. A first score from Stan after excellent hands across the pitch was followed by an outrageous overhead pass from Knoop scooping through which was converted by a diving Sam Missin. An intercept (fruitlessly chased by the scorpions defence) was scored by Knoop and the winning score was created by Ben Powell finding holes in the Scorpions defence to offer up a classy finish to score for Lucy Norburn. A nervy end to the game saw Scorpions come close to equalising and sending the game to a drop off but as she has done all season Lucy absolutely crushed the defensive effort and the team held on until the final hooter.
The reward was there- Hornets had met every objective of the day and knew they would finally get their showcase final against BBR. It also guaranteed at least a 3 place improvement in each tournament from the previous- underlining Coach Ben Powell’s faith in the ability for the team to grow and develop at an impressive pace. Indeed- the buzz in the touch community surrounding the youthful Cambridge side (with a few notable exceptions) has made many potential opposition wonder quite how good this team can become in the coming years. This would be a tough challenge but one that the team would relish.
Despite going behind off the opposition’s tap off and always feeling like the game was being chased there was a determined attitude in the team and they never gave up. An incredible first half with almost a score a minute meant that the half time hooter sounded with a 10-7 BBR advantage on the scoresheet. An early short line executed nicely from Oliver Maynard started the Cambridge scoring and following scores from Sam x2, Knoop x2, Nicky and Stan were all well worked and well deserved. As commented after the game- BBR do not allow cheap scores and each of the touchdowns were created by hard driving, individual flair, great hands and determination. The second half pales in comparison with both teams sharpening up their defence and only a further 5 scores being added to the scoreboard, Glenn scoring the sole Cambridge effort (and thereby tying up the series ‘oldies’ scoring competition with Stan). A mention to Ben Powell’s diving defence in the second half- certainly saving several scores, but unfortunately breaking his hand in the process (not that it stopped him finishing out the game!). A final score of 8-14 meant Cambridge could leave the field with their heads held high and knowing that they had scored (probably- I haven’t actually checked!) the most past BBR all season.
Watch the exciting final game https://youtu.be/tXUo-q1dn90
Player of the tournament was awarded to Lucy Norburn– excellent play all round but in particular immense defence.
Also a mention to Tamara Slater- selected as female MVP of the tournament overall. Congratulation to both!
An excellent season with a huge number of positives. For the stattos… 15 games, 99 scores, 15 different scorers. Top Scorer- Sam Missin with a massive 18 (2nd place honourable mention to Oli Maynard with 15). Hornets player of the series- James Knoop- a phenomenal performance and effort throughout (Glenn also thanks you for all the scores you provided for him I am sure).
A great end to the mixed season- we are already looking forward to what next year will bring, but first the focus can be turned to the upcoming MWTC.