By Mark Taylor
UCLan Spinners qualified for their first ever nationals competition at mixed regionals, beating rivals Lancaster 8-7 in overtime, with 3 beginners making up the 4 women on the team.
Seeded 6th, the team went in full of optimism that they could qualify for nationals, this belief was reinforced with a resounding 15-0 victory over Newcastle 3 to begin the weekend.
They carried their fine form into both the next match against a proven Durham 1st team, coming out 5-4 victors but losing Damola Disu to a broken leg, before securing first place in their group with a 15-1 thumping of Liverpool 2nds.
This left Spinners 1st seed of 15 teams and drawn in a tough pool, taking on Durham 2nds and maintaining their winning streak with a 5-3 win.
The team’s winning run soon came to an end though, Manchester 1sts taking the game 8-4, and drawing an altogether successful day to a close for UCLan Spinners.
Sunday began with another close match, Liverpool 1sts edging it 6-5 with the last throw of the game, leaving the team one spot below nationals qualification in 5th seed.
Spinners soon re-established their previous form with a 14-4 win over Manchester 2nds, followed by another impressive win over Durham 1sts, 6-4 and leaving themselves a real chance to claim Nationals spot.
In their first attempt at securing a top 4 spot, Liverpool 1sts took the game 7-6 in overtime, setting up a clash with friendly rivals Lancaster to qualify for nationals.
The match was close throughout, going to overtime, before Richard Adams took the winning catch to claim UCLan Spinners first ever nationals qualification with an 8-7 victory.
The team’s final match of the weekend would decide if Spinners were to qualify for Division 1 or Division 2 and Spinners found themselves up against Liverpool 1sts again, losing 8-3 and securing 3rd seed and a Division 2 Nationals spot.
On qualifying, President Tom Daly said, “I couldn’t be happier. This is a fantastic achievement for a club only in its third year.”
Two weeks previously, UCLan Spinners took two teams to Men’s regionals, and both teams exceeded expectations with the first team missing nationals by one match and the second team finishing five places above their original seeding.
The first team got off to a flying start with a 12-3 win over Manchester 3rds before a hard fought defeat against Durham 1sts 11-5, finishing 2nd in the group after a convincing 13-2 victory over Chester 2nds.
The second team lost all 3 of their group matches against very tough opposition, losing 10-2 to Chester 1sts, 9-1 to Manchester 2nds and 12-4 to Newcastle 1sts, leaving them bottom of a hotly contested group.
In their next pool, the first team started with a difficult loss to a very tall Manchester 1sts 13-2, captain Niall Lobley ruling himself out of the rest of the weekend with a knee injury, before a very tight match against Durham 2nds, Spinners losing right at the end 7-6.
In their final match against Lancaster, Spinners won 7-5, thanks to a magnificent catch by Damola Disu, to finish third in the group with 7th seed and a real chance to qualify for nationals.
The second team began their pool with an 11-3 win over Liverpool 2nds, followed by an 11-6 win against Manchester 3rds.
A 9-4 victory against Newcastle 2nds sealed first place in the pool and left the team in a very respectable 10th seed.
The first team then played a crossover against Manchester 2, winning a very close affair 7-6, meaning they had to beat Durham 2nds to claim the final Nationals spot.
Meanwhile, the second team lost 10-0 to Durham 2nds before giving hugely experienced Chester 1sts, who had thrashed them the previous day, a terrific match, losing 8-6 and finishing in 10th seed.
In the nationals decider, the first team gave their all but it wasn’t quite enough as Durham 2nds came out 7-4 winners, finishing in 6th seed.