May 2014 Triwizard Report
Two years ago, four local Sydney teams congregated on campus at UNSW to play six games of quidditch and a tradition was born.
In May 2014, two years of Triwizard was marked with the biggest and grandest enterprise yet attempted, down the road at UNSW’s David Phillips Sportsfield professional complex. Each of the thirteen Triwizard tournaments we’ve had so far have brought something memorable to the table, but it took until this fourteenth gathering for the first ever attempt at two fields of play, the first such attempt at any Australian tournament outside QUAFL in fact. This allowed a record sixteen matches to take place within one single Triwizard, with all eight established NSW teams once again represented.
The hosts opened play as always, against a UTS team they always comfortably had the wood over throughout 2013. The 2014 edition Opaleyes definitely look like they bring more to the table though. Encouraging March performances suggested this and for May they brought another full and varying squad of old and new talents.
But the early stages were business as usual, as can be expected considering that teams of far greater experience and pedigree than UTS have been consistently blown away all season.
UNSW barely raised a sweat in drawing 70-0 clear, with chaser leader Michael Thomson and anchor Leigh Morrell dominating proceedings. But the lethargy caused by such a pedestrian start created problems for the relaxed Snapes. UTS brought a sustained depth and quality to their performance. UNSW in turn had many of their best missing, either through total absence or selective resting within the squad, so the gap between the teams was smaller than it initially seemed. To truly put UTS to bed, the resources available at UNSW’s disposal on this occasion needed to be at their ruthless best, which they weren’t. The beater game in particular was disjointed and the Opaleyes began to regularly find open space in centre-field. Arthur Triantos led the way from the back, with newer recruit Kevin Yates providing the crucial support as the tables turned and from nowhere, 70-0 had become 90-50.
UNSW battened down the hatches, tightening up their defence to make sure victory was never under threat. Though the same rhythmic ease of scoring never returned, the Snapes did just about enough, extending their lead back to seventy before the snitch catch finalised a 150-50 win.
The first ranked match of the day was between UWS and Macquarie, who were sharing a mutual lack of human resources. It was the eight Thestrals who had a slight early supremacy over the nine Marauders. Daniel Ormshaw and Hannah Monty established a 20-0 lead before beaters Evan Wright and Stephen Butler were called into action as Macquarie began to pile on some early pressure. Butler and Wright expertly saw off a number of threatening advances from the Marauders’ keeper and general Dan Phipps, preserving the narrow early advantage and paving the way for the thrashing to come
A shorthanded UWS is a very different beast than a shorthanded Macquarie, primarily because UWS have spent more than two years being almost permanently under-resourced, while the Marauders’ strength has always lay in the depth of their massive squads. UWS also retained the majority of their leadership core within the available eight, while Macquarie most of all missed Daniel Claxton and Kieran Tolley. But even if both were present, it may only have slowed down the rout rather than preventing it, because UWS quickly began to power through their struggling opponents and overpower time itself.
Hannah Monty’s astonishing four goal sequence within ninety seconds characterised the magnitude of the destruction, as UWS blew through the century mark in just eight minutes. By the ten minute seeker release, the goal count was up to twelve.
Very early on UWS appeared to miss their most notable absentee, Dom Bell, as Maria Wizbicki’s experienced head kept herself and untested rookie Helen Glover in the contest and pressuring the still learning Wright. But the lack of any established and experienced Macquarie beater was the key, with Butler controlling the contest efficiently and ensuring total control of the whole field. The UWS chaser firepower is always immense but rarely do they have such open spaces to work in, hence the unusually rapid rate of goal scoring.
The procession only slowed in speed as the Thestrals began to tire themselves and Scott Palmer eventually managed to restore some Marauder pride with an eighteenth minute goal. But UWS still achieved a mighty double-century, led by captain Monty’s eight goal haul, while Corey Ingold-Dawes and Arfy Papadam each amassed small fortunes of their own.
Daniel Commander’s snitch catch gave Macquarie the last laugh, but 200-40 was still a dire final score.
The Wollongong Warriors faced the University of Sydney’s Unspeakables for the second time in 2014, having gone all the way to overtime in March. Both squads were full of experience and quickly looked set to stalemate once again. This match marked the first time a sizeable and near full-strength Unspeakable squad lined up back in Australia since their return from World Cup. It certainly showed, more in style and intensity than anything else. Sydney brought a new level of physicality to the field in both their legal and technically well-oiled tackling, as well as more borderline efforts influenced by mighty Americana.
The aggression would have been too much for lesser teams, but there is barely such a thing these days. Certainly the Warriors are no such thing and their gradually developing solidity of structure and presence serves them particularly well for such an occasion.
It was the Unspeakables who were firmly on the front foot, propelled by Cameron Brown who managed to grind out a hard-working hat-trick over ten minutes. The Warriors were content to defend expertly and counter-attack, effectively dulling most of the Sydney threat and keeping them well in check. But they could only manage one goal of their own over the same period.
The lack of a Daniel Lowe kind of x-factor which Sydney clearly had in Brown was the only real difference between two uniformly even teams. The top class beating quartet of Luke Derrick and Rob Wells vs Aman Nalli and Hannah Davidson ensured neither chaser unit could find any sustained space and take any kind of command over the contest.
Goals for Shara Longbotham and Cameron Brown gave Sydney brief breathing space before Brandon Heldt’s second brought it back to 50-20. The level was supreme from both teams, but the Unspeakables were showing the greater depth and sustained performance, once again finding themselves fifty clear with a further pair of goals. Seeker Liam O’Callaghan’s catch ended a high quality match 100-20 in favour of the narrowly superior but still highly impressive Unspeakables.
As UNSW and UWS warmed up for an unusually early morning instalment in their most grand of rivalries, focus turned to the beginning of play on Field B. Newcastle’s first game of the day was against a competitive looking UTS. Given the Fireballs’ struggles in April, their even smaller May squad had definite cause for concern against a team easily capable of an upset.
The concerns would prove semi-founded. UTS confirmed that their chaser unit had not been made to look unduly strong by UNSW’s fun and games early in the morning. The quality was there, deep, and genuine. The Fireballs, still adjusting to many radical new procedures and equally fresh personnel, were ragged in defence. Both chasers and beaters sat markedly back in play, visually more reminiscent of a UWS, but they struggled in their communication and UTS were able to find room and tick their score along nicely.
Newcastle’s offensive firepower was striking though, with the playmaking James Mortensen and the burrowing Desany Phanoraj running an efficient and powerful ship. The alternating triple threat of Mortensen, Joshua Naismith and Dameon Osborn did enough to take Newcastle just about out of snitch danger, before Osborn sealed a 170-90 victory. But UTS were a clear force to be reckoned with, as they had also proved in their March efforts, while Newcastle’s potential was very obvious even if the cracks were still far from ironed out.
The second in Field B’s opening unranked non-tackle match pair was another contest between a professional, well-drilled, rapidly improving unit of the UTS variety and a reinvented rebuilding anomaly somewhere in the Newcastle realm. But in both cases these roles were amplified, for the Warriors are now a genuine match for anyone in ranked play and the Nargles are a total unknown quantity, trying to break out of baby steps and into some kind of eye-catching brisk jog.
The recruitment drive was certainly effective, with the imposing Zac Dee and the agile Danny Fox loudly announcing their presence on the national stage with some strong early charges on goal, handing the Nargles a surprise lead. With Laura Smith missing, stand-in captain Joseph Ray proved immediately adept at his job for the day, running a smart and well-organised little tug-boat of eight. It was clearly depth and experience which would be the dangers for the Nargles, but the experimenting Warriors often seemed confused and failed to take full advantage of what on paper looked like a slightly weaker team in all areas.
The experience shortfall was partly covered by the crucial addition of Canadian import and established international quidkid Elizabeth Martel, whose natural adeptness and familiarity with the game was plain to see and provided further firepower to the fading but still leading Canberrans.
Wollongong eventually managed to close the Nargles down to just a ten point lead, ensuring that it would all come down to the snitch. Rookie Zac Dee was entrusted with the vital task on debut and despite no experience or training in the role, he was able to make the catch and hand the Nargles a significant 100-60 win, their first in proper competition for more than eighteen months.
There was no time for reflection on the dramas of Field B, for Australia’s two great powerhouse teams were meeting once again, for the fourteenth time across their rich thirty month history. Even this showdown would take a lot to match the standard that was popping up across every team and both fields. The promise was there at least, with UWS having shown clearly more impressive form during their respective openers. UNSW always step up though and the fresh Raj Kapoor and Andrew Culf both scored early to establish a 20-0 lead and early momentum.
Corey Ingold-Dawes replied for UWS in the fifth minute, before scoring opportunities dried up as both chasers and beaters on each side stood tall in defence. Dom Bell was back, giving the Thestrals extra beater-strength to back their on-form chasers who were just about matching the usually unparalleled UNSW unit. Snape beaters Emmanuel Berkowicz and Nick Allan were immense though, monstering the opposition chasers and beaters, allowing UWS no space to work with. The increasingly frustrated Thestrals constantly threatened but could not finish and as their formation began to unravel slightly, UNSW pounced.
A quick trio of sudden goals from Culf, Kapoor and Thomson broke the 20-10 impasse and heaped the pressure on the fading UWS. With a squad more than double the size of their opponents, UNSW were always going to have the legs at the end. Even a red card to the dominating Allan didn’t arrest the momentum as Culf and Kapoor duly completed their respective hat-tricks and put the game to bed at 80-20.
Nothing could stop Berkowicz either, not even a nasty head knock after shifting to seeker. He caught the snitch and took his team home by a margin of ninety, despite all the early competitiveness.
Newcastle and Macquarie’s second matches of the day saw them face off for the first time since the titanic struggle that was the QUAFL 2013 Semi Final. Neither team has started the season in quite as good a place, but it was the Fireballs who had to be definite favourites based on both teams’ first performances. Kieran Tolley was however back in the fold and against UWS the Marauders had started reasonably before simply dying far too dramatically.
James Mortensen scored almost immediately at brooms up, but the early minutes otherwise belonged to Macquarie. Newcastle’s defence continued to struggle and their beater game in particular was being outclassed. The presence of Tolley made all the difference, while his strong leadership in turn elevated Wizbicki, turning the pair into an effective partnership. A pair of Dan Phipps goals gave the Marauders their first lead of the day and first genuine early lead of the season, but some brilliant counter-attack led to goals for Mortensen and Ingram and a restored Newcastle lead.
The pace of the game and the pace of scoring continued frenetically, with Mortensen and Ingram both scoring again, still well inside ten minutes. Phipps also completed his hat-trick, but with just nine players available (Tolley having directly replaced the departing Glover rather than adding to the numbers), the passage of time was against Macquarie once again.
Newcastle were slowly taking total control. The thankfully fit and healthily returned Joel Murphy was as brilliant and wily as ever, leading the rapidly improving rookie Jordan Hunt under the radar. The pair stepped up when needed, finding a new level and ultimately outlasting their opposition beaters.
At this point, Newcastle also conveniently introduced Dameon Osborn late into the game and he quickly scored, handing the now quaffle and bludger controlling Fireballs a 60-30 lead that looked sure to grow.
But thanks to some timing confusion, the snitch was back well and truly ahead of schedule, creating a spectacular scramble from Daniel Commander and Joshua Naismith. This was an opportunity for an unlikely get out of jail free card for the Marauders, who were fading badly but still able to take the game to overtime. Luckily for Newcastle, Naismith’s quality shone through and he beat QUAFL’s standout seeker fair and square to a quality catch, bringing Newcastle home 90-30.
The morning’s games ended with a pair of far from leisurely unranked games which largely mirrored each other, both presenting opportunities for unfancied non-tackle teams to take it to established opponents but along opposing trajectories.
UWS vs UTS started slowly before the Thestrals’ drew comfortably away towards the end. Meanwhile, the Nargles and the Unspeakables started frantically but wrestled their way to a tense low-scoring struggle.
UTS had shown flashes of threatening brilliance in both their opening losses, but didn’t ultimately push too worryingly close in either case. Given the standard of the opposition here, similar could be expected. But the difficulty UWS had in scoring goals was surprising even considering Opaleye form and their own penchant for unranked experimentation. Despite UWS controlling all facets of the game, they led only 40-10 after fifteen genuinely tight minutes, somehow seeming unable (or to be fair, unwilling) to put UTS away.
The game ran cruelly long for UTS though, with the late returning snitch allowing enough time for UWS to do as much as they needed and eventually grind their way to fifteen goals. Such a margin was not befitting UTS’ effort so it was a welcome consolation when Arthur Triantos caught the snitch, finalising the score at 150-40.
On Field B, the Nargles had once again come out like a house on fire, putting pressure on the Unspeakables. A 20-20 deadlock was quickly established then notably prolonged, as the professional Sydney setup took general control. But though it slowed the Nargles down, control could not equal a flow of points for the Unspeakables, thanks largely to the absence of Cameron Brown. Recognising the shortfall of chaser fire, captain Luke Derrick transferred himself out of his preferred beater role. Though Derrick chased strongly, few anywhere can match the impact of Brown, nor can many match Derrick’s beating aplomb. So both areas ended up somehow lacking, keeping the stretched Nargles in the game.
Sydney did enough to scratch out a 40-20 lead, but an early snitch return meant they were still in danger, especially considering the revelation that was Zac Dee. He once again did the business, catching the snitch and stealing an amazing 50-40 upset for the high-flying Nargles.
After a brief lunch, the Macquarie Marauders and Sydney Unspeakables continued in earnest. Injury to Alexander Enrico limited his chasing availability, adding further concerns for a rapidly depleting and limping Sydney outfit. This played Macquarie into the match as they would crucially prove a match for the opponents in longevity as well as quality.
This was lucky because a strong ending was going to be needed for either team thanks to a deadlocked start, which saw no goals for eight minutes. The only early trouble on the scoresheet was in the form of a yellow card to the usually seeking but presently chasing Liam O’Callaghan.
Both teams lacked true chaser penetration and shared a general underwhelming but still professional evenness across the field. With such a consistent standard of experienced guile, neither side could simply rely on errors from the other, because they were rarely forthcoming. Instead they needed to make the play and find space which neither side had the weapons to manage.
Dan Phipps, always a strong Macquarie weapon, finally opened scoring in the ninth minute, a lead which Scott Palmer then doubled shortly afterwards. Though his absence from beating was keenly felt by the Unspeakables, Luke Derrick was at least proving to be a quality chaser. The Sydney captain struggled to find the right passing and running lanes early, but in the second ten minutes stepped up with a quality hat-trick.
The score was now 30-30 after twenty bruising minutes of rough rib-rattling quidditch. A conveniently malleable snitch preserved the tension, as both scrabbling fading bandaged units fought desperately to hang on to some kind of supremacy.
A first goal for rookie Marauder Kieran Richards made it 50-40 to Macquarie, but half an hour had passed and the snitch was all that mattered now. It was Daniel Commander who triumphed, his catch taking the breathless Marauders to an 80-40 triumph over the battered Unspeakables.
UNSW and UWS’s next jobs were to simultaneously face up against an improved and threatening former minnow each. The Snapes were the latest team to face the mysterious threat of the nebulous Nargles. It was always going to be an unrealistically big ask to expect a hat-trick of spectacular upsets from such an inexperienced and tiny squad of future superstars. But UNSW by no means had it all their own way. Danny Fox continued to capture the attention of all and Elizabeth Martel continued to ensure no game passed without her name featuring on the scoresheet.
With the stressed and stretched hosts once again foregoing the use of some of their otherwise occupied tournament-organising stars, the Nargles gained enough of a foothold to briefly threaten. Four goals against the often impenetrable (though admittedly beater-scratchy) Snapes is a big enough ask. Restricting them is even more impossible, so by the return of the snitch UNSW had gotten to relative safety at 90-40, before snatching their way to an eventual eighty-point win.
UWS faced the somehow winless Warriors, who were frustrated at having wasted an opportunity to grind down the Nargles. Hannah Monty wasted no time playing herself in on this occasion, potting the first two goals in a tight start. But 20-0 quickly became 30-20 thanks to Brandon Heldt’s double. That was as close as it got through. Daniel Ormshaw and Arfy Papadam re-established the Thestral ascendency before a pair for Bianca Connell took them towards some kind of safety.
As always, the Warriors’ structure was sound and firm, but their temperament and endurance was failing them to a certain extent. Though Wollongong’s beaters were competitive, UWS always had just about enough in hand to deny the Warriors’ merciless assaults on goal. As frustration grew, so did the errors and as the match meandered away, UWS began to slide through goals of increasing ease.
By the end, runaway goals were the order of the day, shared nicely between the constant triple threat posed by their five rotating chasers. One aspect of their game not clicking though was the seeking. Wollongong’s consolation catch meant that UWS finished the day with none from four on the snatching front, but they at least could rest on the laurels of a strong 160-50 win.
It was far from time for resting for UNSW or Newcastle though, despite impressive undefeated days for both. A late forfeiture for the wounded Unspeakables and subsequent tinkering with the schedule rushed us forward to the day’s final extreme grudge match.
With clouds beginning to converge, the formerly mightiest of rivals faced off. Head to head pickings had been lean for Newcastle in modern times though, with UNSW having won three straight, stretching back more than a year. Besides, nobody had gotten close to UNSW all year regardless of how their form looked. Most signs pointed to an emphatic UNSW triumph, but they hadn’t been at their best for most of the day and would need to step up to make sure of things.
The very first minute certainly suggested a competitive fixture, with Newcastle winning possession at brooms up and slicing through to score. UNSW could not find immediately reply either, despite controlling possession. Raid after raid on goal was rebuffed by a tougher and more physical defence than had yet been seen from Newcastle. The early goal and much of the initial impenetrable defence came courtesy of Matt Ingram, confirming that his strong effort when used as a surprise chaser against Macquarie was no fluke.
After five minutes, Andrew Culf finally equalised, before Michael Thomson followed up to take UNSW to the front. But it was still anyone’s game. Recognising the need to bring a greater brute strength to the fore against figures like Mortensen and Osborn, the Snapes threw all their star cards on the table in Kapoor, Culf, Diep and Thomson, while also rueing the lack of Beth Crane to barge through up front. This saw a polar shift in strategy as Rhiannon Gordon and Holly Shuttleworth took up the beating mantle in place of Berkowicz and Allan, despite their ruthless brilliance against UWS. The Snapes lack nothing in Gordon and Shuttleworth, but even a pairing of that quality and experience was being made to look almost average such was the work rate of the Fireball beaters, particularly the indefatigable Murphy and Hunt again.
A goal to Minh Diep made it 30-10 but Liam Dawson, yet another of Newcastle’s high level athletes from the 2014 production line, quickly replied. Kapoor in turn restored the twenty point advantage as the game shifted up another gear.
The match was beginning to make a statement as a landmark in the still learning landscape of NSW tackle quidditch, with the Snapes and Fireballs colliding with a rare ferocity. Tempers were fraying on both sides, with the Fireballs slowly losing control of the game but doing just enough to frustrate the Snapes, not letting them escape. UNSW wrestled their way to a definite upper hand in the second phase of the game and the lead slowly crept its way above forty. The opportunity was there to take control on the scoreboard, but some poor finishing would prove costly as a number of sure-fire goals somehow slipped bafflingly away at the last minute for the stylish but less substantive Snapes.
70-30 was far from a safe margin and Newcastle made them pay. Joshua Naismith’s second immense catch of the day, besting national seeker Emmanuel Berkowicz, looked to have finished proceedings 70-60 in favour of UNSW. But after consultation between assistant referees and both teams, it was determined that without question, a disallowed goal for Osborn had in fact been scored. Sensationally, the final score became 70-70 and overtime was to be had, justly given the definite score Osborn had made but undoubtedly unjustly too, for a difficult precedent had been set to the detriment of the sporting Snapes.
As seemed inevitable from this divisive point forward, it was Naismith who prevailed again, catching the overtime snitch and winning the game 100-80 for Newcastle. The result may have left a hollow feeling, but the contest most certainly did not, nor should the performance of the spectacular Fireballs. An undefeated season is always a nearly fanciful proposition, but if ever such a feat was possible, it was beginning to look like the 2014 Snapes might be the team to do it. Even if they were going to inevitably lose one sometime, few would have expected the upset to come from the rebuilding Fireballs given how freshly out of apparently early-season doldrums they seemed.
With perhaps the season’s first true all-time epic concluded, a nice chaser of two unranked games wound down this officially immense day nicely. Speaking of immense days, the Nargles had themselves one well and truly. They were the story of the day in many ways, perhaps now alongside Newcastle. But a final and distinctly achievable looking victory over the war-weary and guest-aided Marauders would cement May 2014 as a landmark turning point for one of the country’s noblest elder teams.
Yet again, the chaser firepower of the Nargles took an unsuspecting opponent by surprise and once again an early lead ensued. But with Kieran Tolley and the borrowed magnificence of Aman Nalli on hand to control the bludgers, Macquarie were always going to be in the contest. Tolley and Nalli gelled splendidly given their unfamiliarity together and began to assert a dominance over the oncoming Nargle chaser train. But they never had it all their own way despite their less fancied opposite numbers. The undemonstrative threesome of the experienced Morgyn Benstead and Bec Armstrong and the learning, smart and well-led young Oscar Cozens were magnificent, matching their seriously elite counterparts.
In an understandably sluggish game, the Marauders languidly crept their way to a 50-40 lead, only for Zac Dee to almightily pull victory from the jaws of potential defeat with a third nimble-fingered grab.
The score was 70-50 to the Nargles, who finished with an amazing and form-book shredding three from four, a vintage result from a rather less than vintage squad.
But the nature of both scheduling and the game itself is such that a similarly impressive effort from UTS had yet to yield a single win. Nor had the consistent Warriors yet managed victory from their three games. Both facts felt strangely unjust, but at least one would be guaranteed a success as the Opaleyes and Warriors played out the day’s denouement.
UTS’ strength had come from a powerful chaser unit, while the Warriors continued to anchor their efforts in a strong core defence. The increasingly irresistible force clashed firmly against the continually immovable object. A low-scoring arm-wrestle eventuated, unsurprisingly. Early goals were scarce and it was the more experienced Warriors who looked strongest initially.
But UTS simply had the fresher legs, thanks both to their bigger squad and to their less intense games. The Warriors had suffered through a couple of thrillers and were still a little worse for wear from the bash and rattle tactics of the Unspeakables in their early morning clash, an eon ago.
The Opaleyes worked out to a thirty point lead when the consequently alive snitch was caught by Triantos, sealing a 70-10 win.
That’s three Triwizards down for the year, meaning break time as autumn fades to winter and then, two months down the track, Midwinter Cup 2014. Despite their first loss of the season, UNSW remain the clear No.1 team and will go in to Midwinter as deserving favourites, especially considering the tribulations of the Global-Games decimated reigning champions from UWS. But virtually any team could make a deep and genuine run into Sunday afternoon. May Triwizard dramatically revealed just how even NSW quidditch is and for perhaps the first time ever, there are absolutely no true easy-beats.
|University of New South Wales||150*||vs||University of Technology Sydney Opaleyes||50|
|University of Western Sydney||200||vs||Macquarie Marauders||40*|
|University of Sydney Unspeakables||100*||vs||Wollongong Warriors||20|
|Newcastle Fireballs||170*||vs||University of Technology Sydney Opaleyes||90|
|University of New South Wales||110*||vs||University of Western Sydney||20|
|Australian National Nargles||100*||vs||Wollongong Warriors||60|
|Newcastle Fireballs||90*||vs||Macquarie Marauders||30|
|Australian National Nargles||50*||vs||University of Sydney Unspeakables||40*|
|University of Western Sydney||150||vs||University of Technology Sydney Opaleyes||40|
|Macquarie Marauders||80*||vs||University of Sydney Unspeakables||40|
|University of Western Sydney||160||vs||Wollongong Warriors||50*|
|University of New South Wales||120*||vs||Australian National Nargles||40|
|Newcastle Fireballs||120*||University of Sydney Unspeakables (forfeit)||0|
|Newcastle Fireballs||100*(70*)||vs||University of New South Wales||80(70)|
|Australian National Nargles||70*||vs||Macquarie Marauders||50|
|University of Technology Sydney Opaleyes||70*||vs||Wollongong Warriors||10|