Glasgow university’s mixed squad continue their undefeated streak for another season, taking home gold at UXIN for the second year running after an intense semi-final against local rivals Strathclyde.
Was it ever in doubt that Glasgow as a city would be so strong at University Mixed Indoor Nationals (UXIN)? Historically Glasgow University (Farflung) has been a powerhouse in the division, their mixed team going undefeated for a season and a half now, both indoors and outdoors. But oh how Strathclyde (Dark Horses) turned up at the party this weekend!
Both starting strong, Farflung and Dark Horses were the only two teams undefeated in Saturday’s pool play. After a day of blowout victories for Glasgow (10-4, 12-4 and 8-4), they decided to make it a bit more interesting with a draw against Birmingham’s 2nds. Strathclyde played some much tighter games (8-6, 8-7, 8-5 and 11-8), keeping it exciting for the sideline, but coming out victorious every time. An all-Glasgow final would have been a spectator’s dream, but both teams knew they would come head to head in the semis as they headed into their quarters on Sunday morning.
The first game of Sunday for these giants was Strathclyde against Bath. With a hot zone look that turned Bath over regularly, you would have been forgiven for walking away early and assuming the Glaswegians would win. However, they began to crack under the aggression of the Bath defence, allowing the opposition to start bringing it back. Finally, remembering they had a date with destiny – an all-Glasgow semi final at Nationals visible on the horizon – they ripped the game away from Bath to take a 12-11 victory.
Glasgow played a strong Loughborough team – always leading, but never comfortably. After a couple of dodgy Loughborough holds, Alan Jeuken came up with a massive layout block which the offence marched up the field and stuck into the endzone with authority. Trading out a couple more points, Loughborough broke back to tie the game, before Glasgow ended emphatically on a hold and a break to win 8-6.
The stage had been set. Both teams had eaten up some English chumps for lunch and made sure there were three Scottish semi finalists. It was on Edinburgh to secure an all-Scotland final now whilst our heroes battled each other for bragging rights. The sideline swelled as everyone rushed to watch the game of the tournament unfold. For these teams, this was the true final.
Both teams ramped up the intensity immediately, Strathy’s Warnock and Glasgow’s Jeuken both coming close to huge layout blocks. But the beginning of the game was marked by good offense: hold, hold, hold, hold, beautiful Shaw scoober, hold, hold, Gio Callahan?! No, but Horses break! Another hold – and Flung break back! The game was on fire. Another break saw Flung take a 7-5 lead, and they whipped out a zone to try and slow Strath and kill the clock. But Horses weren’t ready to give up yet, still putting it in with time to play. A huge layout block allowed Horses to break again and take the game to universe. Classic derby game finale. Defensive pressure from Strathclyde wasn’t enough to stop Flung captain Terry clinching the final point for Glasgow, as he laid out for the winning score. After the game, Terry told us: “It’s always nice to play the local team. It was a high intensity game as always, and we’ll go home and have a little banter about it in the end so it’s always nice to play those guys. It’s hard to tell if that could have been the final. I feel slightly bad, they’re a great team and its always sad to go out in the semi final when you’re that good.”
Glasgow comfortably overcame Edinburgh take the gold in a rematch of the regional final with a statement 11-8 win. Unfortunately, Strathclyde succumbed to their second straight universe loss (10-9) against Manchester. Captains Andrew Warnock and Haley Dalmon reflect on their weekend: “We did not set out a target of winning or anything like that, but we knew we had the quality and depth to go all the way, which was so nearly proven right. Losing a semi final and a bronze medal game is a very bitter pill to swallow, but on reflection 4th place is something we are very proud to have achieved. Historically Strath isn’t usually a contender in national competitions, but we are now cementing our name as one of the top dogs in everything we do. Winning every game on Saturday… we knew we had a real shot of winning and set up a grudge match vs Glasgow. Although Glasgow’s defence won them the game, we are delighted to see our name right up the top of the spirit leaderboard! Big things to come from this team later in the year!”
Glasgow’s university teams both finishing in the top 4 at the first National University tournament of the season bodes well for them both, and we now follow them with excitement to see if they can make waves for the rest of the season! Congratulations to both sets of players, as well as Edinburgh for making the final, Aberdeen for destroying their Sunday bracket to finish 13th (15-5 in the final game, maybe they belonged in the top 8…) and to St. Andrews for demolishing Division 2 and taking home gold there. Scotland is looking strong.