St Andrew’s Ultimate team (‘Flatball’) couldn’t quite rise to the challenge that was a very demanding Championship Division 1 Pool A, falling to defeats to Manchester, Sussex and Exeter. But the general consensus was that they had played well and, frankly, could have done little else against opponents who were better in the area of raw talent.
Flatball’s Championship adventure began with a match against Manchester Halcyon, who Flatball captain David Stuart admitted beforehand were one of the strongest teams in the competition. The beginning of the match was close, with Will Compernolle’s superb catch the early highlight. But steadily Manchester took control, their composed play allowing them to add several points for each one that St Andrews pulled back. Their throws hit the mark time and again and, while Compernole, Harry Glasspool and David Stuart scored excellently for Flatball, they were comfortable winners, 13-5.
Flatball had begun to gel more as a team towards the end of the Manchester match, and they looked to continue that against Sussex Mohawks. After a very early lead for Sussex, Flatball replied with two scores by Glasspool and Stuart. It was turning into a thoroughly entertaining match, with both teams showing their quality; Glasspool, Compernolle and Drew Courtright gave Flatball the lead at 5-4. However, Sussex’s turned on their class, with skilful passes and sharp cuts presenting them with four straight points and they didn’t let up on the pressure, finishing in dominant fashion to win 13-6.
The final match of the pool was against Exeter Uriel, who had also lost their previous two matches. Courtright’s lay-out catch in the Exeter end zone put Flatball ahead, but they were soon 4-1 down as Exeter responded ruthlessly. Courtright scored again, only for Exeter to hit back by going 7-2 up; Stuart got another point for Flatball and then the scores were stuck on 9-3 for a prolonged period, as both sides created and missed chances to score. Then came even more long points, as opportunities came and went, before an impressive Exeter turned on the style to complete a 12-3 victory.
Over fifty matches had been played over the duration of Saturday, and several teams had put themselves down as favourites for the Championship. Sussex topped Pool A with a 13-8 win over Manchester, while Pool B had been won by Edinburgh’s ‘Ro Sham’ after their thrilling 12-11 victory over a resilient Cardiff Frills side. The third pool had Cambridge on top, who had defeated second-placed Cork 9-8, and Pool D was dominated by Southampton.
In Division Two, the teams making an early impression included Bath, Aberdeen, Nottingham and Loughborough, while UEA (University of East Anglia) topped Pool H on points difference at the head of a three-way tie with Bangor and UCL (University of Central London).
Flatball coach Ben Heywood said that he was very pleased with the performances shown by the team, even if they had not obtained the ideal results. The Ultimate competition continues on Sunday with the placing matches. Flatball are scheduled to face either Warwick or Oxford in their first game of the day, with 9th place still a realistic target; it would be a notable achievement and act as reward for the hard work put in on a testing Saturday.