Gutsy Saints edged out by Edinburgh

By Katie DeKeizer, Fencing Club Secretary

This past Wednesday, the St Andrews Fencing Men’s A-team faced an inevitably tough and potentially season-deciding home match against the University of Edinburgh’s 1st team.

The St Andrews Fencing Team is one of the top sides in the BUCS Northern Premier League, consistently placing in the top three. This year, the team has been hopeful that they could make it to the lucrative number one spot. At the start of play, Saints sat second in the league, Edinburgh third; both were below unbeaten table-toppers Manchester University. 

Although St Andrews has a relatively small Fencing Club when compared with Universities like Edinburgh and Manchester, the club has a lot of talent within its ranks. The combination of advanced and novice fencers makes the St Andrews club distinctive; team members and beginners practice and train together which creates a club with a very inclusive and social atmosphere for all involved. 

The match on Wednesday was an important one for a couple of reasons. For one, Edinburgh are the club’s traditional rivals. Moreover, if St Andrews could win this fixture and again at home against Manchester next week, the team would place first in their division, a quite phenomenal achievement. 

There was a very high spectator turn-out for the match, much to the delight of the Fencing Club Committee, and all those who attended were excited at the prospect of a seeing some of the best fencers in the university circuit pitted against each other with league points at stake. 

St Andrews suffered a rocky start, however, with Edinburgh winning the Foil category by 45 to 42. Saints’ Laurence Carrick put in an admirable performance, fighting hard to keep St Andrews from falling too far behind, but in the end Edinburgh managed to get back those last few points to draw first blood in the fixture.

 St Andrews then responded by sweeping the Sabre category, with Symke Haverkemp winning two of three bouts emphatically, 5-0. 

After the Sabre, the score was Edinburgh 89, St Andrews 87. Things were looking good; St Andrews only needed to win the Epee section by three points to win the match overall. But despite some amazing performances by the Epee team, Edinburgh did just enough to pull  away in the final two bouts. 

The final score was Edinburgh 134, St Andrews 128. The home side fought well, but in the end Edinburgh played a marginally superior game. Thus, while it was ultimately a very close match, with both teams fencing close to their best, Edinburgh just had a better day and took the win by a close margin.

But all hope is not lost for the St Andrews Men’s Fencing Team, far from it. They remain in second place, three points ahead of Edinburgh. If they beat league leaders Manchester in next week’s home match (2-5pm in the Sports Centre Gymnasium), they will confirm a second-place finish overall in the Premier League, which would be a considerable success – for it is a league that contains some of the very best fencers in university sport.

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