September Triwizard Report
September’s Triwizard Tournament was the biggest yet, with four games per team totalling a magnificent aggregate of eighteen matches for the day, from which UNSW and the Unspeakables stood out as the main stories.
Amidst the madness of each Triwizard, which without fail gets busier and busier month after month, it becomes harder to slow down and get a good read on proceedings. So where do things stand now we’re firmly in the run up to QUAFL?
UNSW are alone at the top and it’s difficult to see anywhere a sustained challenge could come from. The same could have been said last year of course and it didn’t work out for them. Sometimes in quidditch a challenge doesn’t need to be sustained for very long or very substantially to make the difference. But then the Snapes are even stronger than they were last year, and the UWS juggernaut that was their equal last year is not at present.
UNSW had to get by both UWS and Newcastle, who all things being equal are probably their two closest threats in the state. But things rarely are equal. Neither the Thestrals nor the Fireballs were at full strength, UNSW as usual were, and dominant victories ensued.
The other story of the day was Sydney’s form. The Unspeakables have always been a top quality side with the experience and capability to do special things, while also maintaining a gloriously consistent inconsistency. They put it all together here though, clinically taking advantage of what was a relatively friendly draw but not one which pointed towards the impressive margins that eventuated.
The first pair of games saw one co-host UWS take on Macquarie, while the other in the Weasleys faced UNSW.
The clash between UWS and Macquarie was obviously the feature contest here and it certainly showed why early, in tension and tightness if not in overall quality.
Macquarie coach and now starting keeper Kieran Richards opened the scoring quickly but other than that it was a slow and cautious start. UWS were resting a little on their heels but Macquarie could not emphatically utilise their early possession.
It took five minutes for Hannah Monty to equalise, while Corey Ingold-Dawes had early frustrations to contend with as Macquarie’s defensive attentions deprived him of space and contributed to a tough early yellow. But his first score gave UWS the lead for the first and as it would prove, only time, for the Marauders were never close again.
Chrystal Player was a star for the hosts, tapping into some of her best form of the year with brilliantly burrowing attacks through the centre of the Macquarie defence, buying Monty and Ingold-Dawes space out wide as UWS slowly worked clear to a 50-10 lead after ten minutes. Macquarie debutant Laura Atkins also impressed, going toe to toe with her fellow diminutive warrior and catching the UWS defensive chasers off guard on a number of occasions.
The Marauders were still well in the fight and not allowing UWS easy goals, but they just could not bring the deficit back up the other end. Things only got worse when Bianca Connell and Christian Barquin began to make their impact, having been withheld early. Barquin helped ensure total bludger control for UWS while Connell was brusque in defence as ever but sensational up front as well, scoring four times in the last half of the game.
The rare threshold of half an hour was crossed and with the benefit of time, UWS had eked their lead out beyond the century without the match ever looking overly one-sided. Macquarie’s efforts were strong but points were hard to come by, so no-one would begrudge them their final snitch catch, especially considering the nonchalant ease with which Leslie Fox demurely snatched the tag.
UWS were up and running nevertheless, with a 130-50 win.
Unsurprisingly, matters were distinctly less competitive across the aisle, with UNSW putting the Macarthur Weasleys to bed 210-0. Given enough time to achieve it, a double century score was always on the cards for the No.1 ranked Snapes, but remaining unconquered in defence is always the bigger and rarer challenge. No matter how inevitable a lopsided clash was going to be, anything to nil is always mightily impressive and UNSW showed every sign of being as on their game as always.
James Clarke was the star, scoring four goals of his own and combining well with Phil Vankerkoerle and Michael Thomson. Leigh Morrell waited more than ten minutes and twelve goals for his first run then summarily scored a two minute hat-trick to make up for lost time.
The Weasley chasers again brought size and power to the table and though you suspect they would do even better with a full tackle game, they still caused UNSW vaguely more trouble than some chaser units have managed before. But UNSW were just far too good in every aspect.
Sydney’s first opponent of the day was UTS, who they faced for the first time this season. In so many ways, these two remain the two most mysterious teams who oppositions are most unfamiliar with, so there was much intrigue in this match. The UTS Opaleyes in particular brought a huge squad compared to August, filled with new talent keen to impress.
This match certainly didn’t disappoint as far as eye-catching break-out performances were concerned. Though old hands like Sabeth Kastanias, Poya Heidari and Brittney Watiwat were as crucial as ever in stabilising the inexperienced and overexcitable young Opaleye recruits, it was newer faces doing all the scoring and impressing.
For Sydney too the scoresheet looked a bit different than usual. Cameron Brown was of course magnificent but he did not feature majorly until late, with Kristie Kuhn stepping up to be the experienced leader anchoring the spirited efforts of up and comers like Carolyn Themel and Jeanne Hamman.
Without any question, the breakout star of the match was Nicholas Albornoz, who debuted back at April and showed he had the power and strength to be an impact player, but then rather disappeared off the scene. He was back now though and with a vengeance. He had too much power for the small, quick and nimble but less sizeable and powerful UTS chaser unit. That speed and agility serves UTS well though, with Akash Shah and Rayan Calimlim the new names to pay attention to. But though UTS did well to put four goals on the famously tight Sydney defence, the floodgates were just too open at the other end.
Albornoz alone made the difference on the scoreboard, netting six of Sydney’s first nine goals then duly giving way for Cameron Brown to sweep by the tiring UTS defence and match that tally late in the drawn out contest.
Ajantha Abey became the newest Sydney chaser leader to be tried out seeking at the top level and he didn’t disappoint, making the final catch and putting the bow on an emphatic 220-40 performance.
The other field saw Newcastle and Wollongong open their days’ work against each other, as usual. For two of the least tackle-prepared teams in the heady early days of NSW quidditch, the Fireballs and Warriors sure have become two of the most willing and physical defensive units of the modern day. Defending is never on the mind of Ezekiel Azib though, for all he has eyes for is the face of goal and on this occasion his brand of barely control fury was effective as his strikes led the way in Wollongong’s early supremacy.
For Newcastle, there was the usual problem of inexperience and general failure in ultimate execution despite what in theory should have been all the ingredients for an easy win. Instead, the Warriors led much of the first ten minutes and looked a genuine chance if the snitch could come back early.
Unfortunately, a squad of eight creates this reliance on a short game, a shortfall not helped by Morgan Legg taking a nasty early hit to the jaw.
James Mortensen was clearly hampered by a rib injury but came into his own later in the match as Newcastle overcame their traditionally scratchy start, leading the Fireballs to their first lead of the match after twelve minutes then scoring a quick trio of goals to take them beyond snitch range.
Liam Dawson was the standout chaser for much of the match though, with speed and efficiency that was at times too much for the Warrior defence. It was Dawson who then sealed the eventually clear victory, ending Newcastle’s run of seven straight goals with a snitch catch, salvaging a 40-30 deficit and turning it into a 130-40 win.
The last team to start their September campaign was the Nargles, against a game-hardened UWS. The teething problems of the Macquarie clash were absent and though Gary Hague’s pace at brooms up led to a Nargle opener, UWS quickly went 20-10 up through Ingold-Dawes and Liam O’Callaghan.
But it was O’Callaghan’s work on his goals which UWS would most value as the match wore on. 20-10 remained the score for the duration of the first ten minutes, but it was not through scrambling Nargle defence holding out the merciless UWS attack. Instead it was the unit from Canberra who had the run of play, controlling the majority of the early exchanges.
The Nargle chaser unit was every bit a match for the strength of UWS’ experienced line-up, and made up for its shortfall in match experience with a brilliant cohesion. Gary Hague was the standout, but his charges on goal were consistently thwarted by the heroic O’Callaghan, unusually employed over Daniel Ormshaw as a starting keeper despite Ormshaw starring in portions of the Macquarie game.
It was the first time these two teams had faced off all year and you could tell. The Nargles were naïve in their approach, at times to a fault as they struggled to read the play, but mostly leading to a fresh fearlessness. UWS, at least early on, could firmly be accused of downright complacency, with many of the Nargles’ highly effective support chasers given too much room to move and their constantly underrated beater unit able to somehow wrestle control away.
Threats from the likes of Hague, Zac Neulinger and Harris Law Yee Fat were always going to be present. The quality of new recruit Joseph Bensadon and in particular the fighting spirit of the rapidly improving Clara Barrs and returning veteran Rowelanne Stubbs hadn’t been accounted for though. Barrs was especially eye-catching, playing a rather Hannah Monty-style of game, pushing high and wide then proving slippery with quaffle in hand.
With Danny Fox out injured, Oscar Cozens was skippering the Nargle side and his beating efforts were more than living up to the title of captain as the Nargles added bludger control to their already burgeoning chaser efforts.
Yet still UWS led. For a portion this was clearly down to O’Callaghan who desperately kept things at a stalemate, before Monty and Bianca Connell stepped up to another level as they had against Macquarie. The UWS chasers at their best are impossible to stop and as they finally reached their fullest strength, the Nargles didn’t quite have enough to stay with them, despite a stirring solo strike to Bensadon.
Ingold-Dawes’ second goal made it 60-20 with momentum falling towards UWS. With the immediate pressure off to some extent, Christian Barquin duly pounced and sealed an extremely hard-fought 90-20 victory.
The theme of powerhouse sides potentially underestimating the remarkable efforts of less fancied opposition was not confined to one field at this particular juncture. The Macarthur Weasleys made a serious game of it against the Macquarie Marauders.
Arfy Papadam and Ben Towers combined brilliantly while Craig Cockcroft’s finishing was precise as he and Padadam each scored a pair of early goals as the Weasleys went blow for blow with Macquarie. The Marauders were the obviously sleeker professional unit, but Macarthur had them for size and this counts for something even (or perhaps especially) in a non-tackle game. Aleena Ali’s beating presence was keenly felt too, pressuring the Marauders who in time managed to get away with bludger control thanks to their depth.
The physicality of the Weasleys frustrated the flustered Marauders, who weren’t helped by captain Laura Bailey’s developing ankle ailment. Vice Captain Amber Williams stood up though, outmanoeuvring the Weasley defence together with Allison Hore and Laura Atkins on many occasions. Daniel Commander also utilised his rare opportunity to chase nicely, combining well with Kieran Richards who was the driving force behind Macquarie’s eventual hard-won ascendency.
When general play was tight, Helen Glover’s firm and precise defensive beating kept the Marauders always a step in front and the longer the match wore on the more they controlled it. Even as the Marauders found their goal-scoring mojo, still the Weasleys were there keeping it tight though. For most of the match Macquarie could not get out of snitch range and when Papadam and Cockcroft completed their hat-tricks, Macarthur had seven goals on the board which could be enough to win most games. Macquarie’s overall class and sheer depth shone through though and they managed to pull clear with thirteen goals then a snitch catch of their own, bringing home a 160-70 win.
Though UWS vs Nargles had arguably made a challenge to the title, UNSW vs Newcastle was nevertheless the likely marquee clash of the morning and it was up next. Both teams came off first up wins but Newcastle wasn’t convincing and UNSW wasn’t pushed enough to make any significant reading on their form. Newcastle took an interesting approach to the contest, switching up much of their strategy and line-up, possibly in an attempt to rattle UNSW with something different as one must generally do, or possibly to keep their key players fresh for an important and rather more winnable looking Macquarie showdown after lunch.
UNSW definitely looked a class above from the very first moment here, with Rajtilak Kapoor and Andrew Culf leading the way as they so often do. The first four minutes saw a pair of goals each for the Snapes’ Drop Bear superstars and at 40-0 the game already looked somehow dead, only adding to the Fireballs’ curious reticence to push hard.
Newcastle still had fight even despite being below their best, shutting down many of the UNSW avenues to goal, in no small part thanks to Dameon Osborn’s remarkable point defending. But still the Snapes pushed, mercilessly launching attack after attack as they controlled possession totally and utterly. Newcastle were not so much poor in attack as never afforded the opportunity to attack in the first place, as the all-conquering UNSW side rendered their every position and strategy utterly obsolete.
With virtually no possession to be had, Newcastle could do nothing more than defend gamely and so they did, with great gusto and courage. Only one further goal came over the next ten minutes and even as the short-handed Fireballs faded, UNSW could never find easy goals. Their pure class was enough to chisel out seven goals over twenty minutes and with the Fireballs only managing one counter-attacking response, the result was assured. Chris Rock’s snitch catch confirmed a 100-10 win for UNSW, whose complete dominance in general play deserved an even bigger margin, prevented only by difficulties at the final hurdle.
Meanwhile, Sydney were playing Wollongong. Clashes between these two sides have been relatively competitive by and large this year and the Warriors early efforts against Newcastle suggested they could make an impression on the Sydney defence. This is exactly how it proved initially, with captain Jacob Fleming showing his perennial class with a quick pair of goals to establish an early 20-10 lead. Sydney’s chaser reserves were at their most powerful in recent memory though, with Nicholas Albornoz again standing out in support of Cameron Brown’s central work. Paul Harrison and Luke Derrick make an experienced and formidable beater team and Derrick’s forward pressure limited the effectiveness of arguably Wollongong’s most key asset, Aman Nalli.
By four minutes into the match, Sydney were scoring at a goal a minute and had overcome their early shakiness to establish an increasingly firm lead.
Harrison’s presence also freed up Rob Wells to provide even more chaser firepower. It was Wells who took up the slack after just a few minutes, scoring a quick pair and helping set up more as the Unspeakables drew safely clear.
Wollongong were once again strong early and as ever can manage limited resources better than anyone, but there is only so long eight people can stay with a team with this much forward momentum. As they had been against UTS, Sydney were frenetic, racing the scorekeeper all the way to twenty minutes. Another six goals boosted Cameron Brown’s always growing tally further as they blew clear, making a second straight opponent look deceptively weaker than they actually are.
If there were any doubts from the earlier game, this performance removed them all, with the same muscle matched by a fluid precision in their chaser game.
For Wollongong, Nicole Cabrera was the standout, gamely fighting an increasingly losing battle and consistently threatening on the counter-attack. Her professional finishing finally netted the Warriors a third goal and Ezekiel Azib added further respectability with a fourth. But the Unspeakables managed no less than sixteen goals, plus another thirty points as Shara Longbotham caught the snitch and ended the game 190-40 in Sydney’s favour.
It is never the soundest idea to make conclusions on teams based on limited data without seeing them all play each other in equal conditions. But sometimes timing can really make a statement. Following their twin demolitions of UTS and Wollongong, Sydney were one of the big stories of the day. But the struggles of the other would add further weight to their efforts. The Nargles were a story because of their efforts against UWS where it’s not unreasonable to say they should have won and with more luck on their side would have.
Now the Nargles faced UTS, fresh off being steamed by Sydney. Given these relative early performances, another lopsided score was surely beckoning. But UTS were mighty this time around, much improved from their first performance yes but nevertheless showing off their fundamental competitiveness across the board. The Opaleyes very nearly beat the Nargles, again one prone to soliloquy might even surmise that they really should have. Ten points was not a margin anyone expected and though of course all credit must go to UTS, the contrast in margins said more than anything else could about just how strong the Sydney unit was this time around.
Akash Shah was first to score before usual beater Oscar Cozens equalised. Cozens and now beater Gary Hague found themselves starting in reversed positions and as is so often the case given the complexity of the beating game, it was the unfamiliar chaser who more easily took to his role. Hague was not helped by an early yellow before any points were on the board.
By that point, things were getting panicky for the Nargles, who had yet to hit the front. Arthur Triantos fought through injury to star, scoring twice as UTS stayed a step ahead of their rivals through the first ten minutes. Matt Armstrong led the way for the Nargle chasers and his first two goals levelled the scores at 30-30 after a long, tense and staccato fifteen minutes. Both teams struggled with discipline, UTS due to their abundance of rookies and the Nargles rather as usual.
Rayan Calimlim’s game ending second yellow was a cruel blow and arrested some of the UTS momentum. The Nargles had now recognised the threat of the sleek and fast UTS game and upped the ante, with Armstrong and Zac Neulinger grabbing the ascendency before Gary Hague finally reverted to his familiar role as a goal-scorer. Triantos completed his hat-trick, keeping UTS temporary in range, but Hague’s quick pair of twentieth minute goals took the score to 80-40 and with momentum on the Nargles side, UTS could do nothing but catch the snitch and salvage a close and more than respected result out of the situation. Player of the Match Triantos did this too, taking his tally for the match to sixty points despite injury, his catch finishing proceedings 80-70 in the Nargles’ favour.
First up after lunch were Newcastle and Macquarie, both looking for a second win out of three for the day. James Mortensen wasted no time affirming Newcastle’s status as favourites with a quick opener, but it remained 10-0 for a long period moving forward. Ana Barciela and Maria Wizbicki’s telekinetic understanding served them well again as they fluidly combined to neutralise much of the Fireball threat with their bludgers.
Newcastle had more guns to blaze with in attack so the Marauders were to an extent just trying to hold on, though Leslie Fox found space and was able to threaten the goal early. With captain Laura Bailey already out for the day with an ankle injury, losing her replacement Amber Williams early was a blow the Marauders could have done without. But Macquarie often play particularly well in these kind of emotional adverse circumstances and with more than enough depth to cover and the increasingly dominant leadership presence of Kieran Richards now formally sailing the ship, there was still a win to be had.
Mortensen continued to threaten but his headband was white not green, with the experience of Tom Russell entrusted with holding the fort at the back. It was Russell who scored second from a powerful attack and as the first ten minutes passed, the two-pronged force took control of the quaffle contest, between them scoring the first give goals.
Macquarie never really went away, always making Newcastle’s progress hard and slow, but they just couldn’t match the Fireballs muscle in the physical contest. A largely even game in centre-field was not reflected on the scoreboard as only Newcastle could break that final line and put points on the board.
Usual chaser Jason Taylor continued his foray into beating and led by the now firmly established experience of Jordan Hunt, the initially Marauder-dominated beater game began to even out aswell, sealing Macquarie’s fate.
A fiery late burst from Dameon Osborn sealed it further, his hat-trick would take Newcastle to an even and unanswered century. Liam Dawson’s catch then confirmed an emphatic 130-0 result.
Wollongong vs UTS represented a major opportunity for both teams to pick up a well and truly deserved result. Such is the competitiveness of today’s quidditch, both sides were without a victory in the recent past and desperate to build some meaningful rewards in the run up to QUAFL. Both went through similar mornings, being summarily trounced by Sydney but pushing arguably higher fancied opponents impressively close.
The ultra-experienced Warriors had the pedigree to be definite favourites, but UTS had them for depth and another performance like that against the Nargles might be enough to do the job.
It was UTS who had the early run of play, perhaps surprisingly given Wollongong’s traditionally strong starts. But the Warriors are a smart team and knew they couldn’t afford to fade away as they had in their morning contests and trusted their defence to absorb the early pressure. This they did and the Opaleyes had only one Arthur Triantos goal to show for their early efforts. Wollongong then turned up the heat, with Ezekiel Azib and Jarrod Simpson scoring in quick succession to briefly hand Wollongong the lead.
By the ten minute mark UTS were back in front though, with Christopher White then Triantos again scoring. The Opaleyes were unlucky not to extend their lead further still, with disallowed goals, more untimely yellows and the unpleasantly lurking spectre of a potential scoring discrepancy hampering their charge towards a bigger lead.
Wollongong continued to play consummately intelligent though, doing what they needed to stay in range and keep things alive. With only eight players and a main weakness that is up-front firepower, that’s all they could do in this situation.
UTS continued to have the narrow balance of quaffle possession, while Wollongong were superior in quaffle defence and, inevitably, the Aman Nalli and Morgan Legg led beater game.
It was always going to come down to the snitch and the match was certainly tight enough to deserve such an ending. On this occasion Ezekiel Azib was the hero and it was Wollongong who won 50-30. It was a result few could begrudge the ever popular and ever toiling Warriors, but unfortunately UTS were at least as deserving on this occasion. It would not be outrageous to suggest that UTS on balance should now have won two in a row which was certainly not predicted. While coming away with the goods in neither was a devastating blow, if the Opaleyes can keep this squad together, continue to develop, and weed out the discipline issues, they will be very interesting to observe at QUAFL.
It had been four long months since the great UNSW and UWS dynamos had faced off. On that occasion, UNSW’s win was fairly emphatic but as always progress was slow. There was every reason to believe UNSW should be able to put UWS to bed here too, but the one sure fire prediction you can always make is that these games will always be tough attritional fights where goals are hard to come by.
That is, until now apparently. Andrew Culf scored in each of the first three minutes and the Snapes were off and running. This dominance was not a surprise, but the sheer pace of scoreboard progress was. Hannah Monty quickly replied and before the seeker floor was up, the two UWS stars of the day, Chrystal Player and Liam O’Callaghan, had goals of their own. Yet still they were nowhere near in range. UNSW scored eight times in that first ten minutes, mercilessly cutting up UWS through the middle.
It was an undeniably amazing performance from the Snapes but even they must been surprised at the ease with which they were regularly able to penetrate an off kilter UWS defence.
Nicholas Allan was stellar, spectacularly deconstructing beaters of the class of Christian Barquin and Stephen Butler with a physical presence and pressure few can match. The goals were shared around, with each of the UNSW’s production line of star chasers managing one score. UWS didn’t know where to look next, trying to arrest the charge largely devoid of any bludger control. Isolated chasers can only ever do so much no matter how good they are, particularly against a line-up like UNSW’s.
By the time fifteen minutes had past, the goal count was up to twelve, and it was only now, with a safe 120-40 lead, that the foot came off the throttle at all.
By the time the snitch returned, UNSW were up to 150-40 and beginning to accelerate again with Minh Diep returning for a burst. There was no end in sight either, with the UWS seeker missing and UNSW’s Chris Rock for once unable to make a good run at the tag, so quality was the snitch. But then it was suddenly over in the most remarkable circumstances. With Rock pinned hapless against the ground, he had the presence of mind to hook his feet behind the assailant snitch and managed to grasp the tag between his ankles and remove it, dramatically completing UNSW’s 180-40 shellacking.
The next unfortunate victim of Sydney’s burgeoning momentum would be the Weasleys. Arfy Papadam was not at all keen to lie down though, brilliantly leading Macarthur to an early 20-10 lead with a quick pair of second minute goals. The Weasley star of the match was Dan Toland, whose bustling chasing regularly broke through Sydney’s defences only to be cruelly denied at the last moment.
Ultimately, the early threat was but a brief blip and by the five minute mark Sydney were 50-20 up and on their way to safety.
With Albornoz used sparingly in order to stay fresh for the crucial Nargles clash, Rob Wells took up the slack, scoring a hat-trick inside the first six minutes. Luke Derrick also excelled, matching this effort in his rare foray into chasing, while Carolyn Themel impressed again.
You know a team is going to be tough to live with when Cameron Brown can once again play a secondary role yet still somehow come away with the small matter of five goals.
A Craig Cockcroft strike was the only respite for the solid Weasleys as the firing Unspeakables continued to go from strength to strength, controlling the beater game through Lachlan Chisholm and the rapidly developing Jeanne Hamman who already doesn’t look out of place on the big stage.
Sixteen goals was the mighty dividend this time for the voracious Unspeakables and when Shara Longbotham made her second catch of the day, it was a third consecutive battering win for Sydney, 190-30.
Macquarie ended their day with a showdown against the Nargles. It was anyone’s guess what could happen here, both teams had impressed in patches early but were disappointing in their most recent matches. The Nargles had done rather a better job of pressuring UWS though, so deserved to be favourites and came out of the blocks strongest. After a number of early attempts, Gary Hague managed to open the scoring after two minutes. Leslie Fox equalised in the fourth minute and at 10-10 the score would stay until the seekers were long gone.
The big Marauder guns were out, with Kieran Tolley starting alongside Barciela this time and his keeping namesake stepping impressively into the vacant captaincy shoes. The Nargles had their own cat in the bag through, with teenage rookie, late arrival and rumoured beater extraordinaire Chris Stubbs starting on debut. Stubbs was certainly far from underwhelming, combining effectively with Morgyn Benstead to dull the threat of the on paper stronger Macquarie beating unit, as is the typical Nargle way.
But in return, Macquarie were also doing rather well to deaden an on paper stronger Nargle chasing unit. It took ten minutes and some Harris Law Yee Fat solo brilliance to re-establish a one goal lead for the Nargles and though Hague added a second shortly afterwards, a second of Fox’s own kept things at 30-20.
The Nargles had the greater penetration towards goal thanks primarily to Hague, Armstrong coming from the back and Clara Barrs’ monstering presence up forward. The Marauders played a smart possession game though, denying them the opportunity to stretch their legs. 30-20 became 40-30 with the twenty minute mark approaching and the Nargles threatening to draw clear without quite managing it.
Macquarie were just holding on but the balance of play was inevitably tilting towards breaking point and it took the X-factor that is Gary Hague to break the final straw. In a frenetic final burst, he fired a sequence of five goals in five minutes and took the Nargles to a safe lead. Leslie Fox then made another of his now trademark effortless grabs to narrow the scoreline, but with Macquarie fifty down it was the Nargles’ game, winning 90-70.
A far greater challenge stood before the Nargles however, to try and arrest the momentum of the undefeated and high-flying Unspeakables in the last game of the day.
Until then, there was some business to work through. Delays and injuries had unfortunately curtailed Wollongong’s day, rendering them unable to face up against UNSW. But happily, UTS were able to overcome initial doubts and put up a team to face UWS. It was good to see because the Opaleyes had been ultra-impressive and didn’t deserve a forfeit to add to their harsh results sheet for the day. Misfortune, injury and absent players may have taken some of the sting out of the Opaleyes for this last game, but they surely still had enough fight to keep UWS within the 150 points that a forfeit would constitute.
Hannah Monty’s two early goals confirmed that UWS were on their game and not going to allow any shock result to happen, but progress was mellow after that. UWS were never under any kind of sustained pressure, but UTS defended gamely and kept them out time and time again, ensuring the Thestrals would have to work for their points.
Though the hard yards were put in across the board in centre field, Corey Ingold-Dawes reaped the most reward, scoring give times as UWS slithered inevitably away to a lead of over one hundred. UTS got to end the day with much deserved positivity though as Rayan Calimlim brilliantly caught the snitch, salvaging a more respectable and deserving 110-30 scoreline.
Newcastle and the Weasleys ended their days with a fairly lazy jamboree under the disconcertingly setting sun. With Newcastle in a playful and overall happy mood after a reasonably solid day, the Weasleys found they could get some purchase, with some early goals making things interesting. Ultimately the Fireballs knew they were going to have too much for the Weasleys though and were playing to the necessary level.
Tom Russell led the way in the prolonged absence of the seeking Mortensen, while the improving Weasley beaters found themselves with more ball than ever, allowing them to effectively keep Newcastle in check initially.
The result was never in doubt though, Liam Dawson dominating on the scoresheet and Mortensen’s catch ending the match 130-30 in Newcastle’s favour.
The last game slot was all about the blockbuster happening across-field though. The Nargles and Sydney were a perfect closer to proceedings, as both had been impressive and whoever won here could rightfully feel like they’d made huge gains on the pack.
It was the Nargles who came out hardest, with Matt Armstrong starting as keeper and scoring off brooms up. Much of the early play was about the oneupmanship between the experience and skill of Armstrong and Cameron Brown who led their teams to a 20-20 stalemate after five minutes.
It was anybody’s game, probably the most genuinely even across all aspects for a sustained period of time. In the fifth minute Harris Law Yee Fat handed the Nargles the lead and they looked capable of maybe going on with it, but were scuttled by the Sydney defence and their own poor discipline.
Law Yee Fat and Gary Hague both received yellows at crucial times, both shorthanded periods resulting in Sydney goals. Kristie Kuhn’s tenth minute equaliser signalled a shift in the momentum as the depth of the Unspeakables began to shine through.
The combination of early seeking and the stellar job figures like Albornoz, Wells, Brown and Themel were already doing meant that Ajantha Abey had been in the chasing backwater for the most of the day. But now was his time to shine, with a pair of crucial skilful goals sneaking Sydney out to a 50-30 lead.
A couple of disallowed Nargle strikes did not help and as the game wore on it was Sydney firmly in control. A quick cameo from Rob Wells added two more goals and with the safety of a 70-30 scoreline to inspire her, Shara Longbotham completed the job with her third catch of the day. 100-30 over a top quality Nargle team was perhaps their most impressive performance of the day yet, ensuring a perfect four from four and the most successful Triwizard ever for the charging Unspeakables.