Qualification for top five places is the current priority for the British League’s leading women’s and men’s teams, taking them forward to a fresh challenge in the second half of the season – the elite Super Fives.
The women’s competition has had a familiar look, with undefeated City of Manchester, champions Liverpool Lizards, City of Coventry and London club Otter once again guaranteed progress even before the final round of matches at Matlock this weekend (11/12 November). City of Sheffield look poised to claim the fifth place although Scottish representatives Caledonia kept their hopes alive when Victoria Wilko scored in the last minute to earn a 7-6 victory over Leeds Sharks.
Best women’s match so far saw Coventry win a thriller against Otter, 13-11. Otter led 7-5 after two periods but Coventry then turned the tables, scoring five times without reply through Ruby Versfelt, Vicki Hawkins (2) and Elizabeth Kennedy (2). Otter rallied again, pulling up to 10-10 in the final quarter. But it was all in vain – Versfelt promptly slotted three more goals to ensure the points.
It’s a lot tighter in the men’s section, where Solihull go into the final qualification weekend at Lancaster (25/26 November) as pacesetters with the only unbeaten record. Champions Cheltenham, with a much changed side, have struggled at times but reasserted themselves at Luton, beating Invicta 14-12, Sheffield 10-8 and drawing 8-8 with Solihull.
London club Polytechnic have made a bright start on their return to the top flight after a break of several years, drawing 11-11 with Solihull. It could have been even better because Poly led 9-6 and then 11-9 before Jordan Elliot’s fourth goal and another by Peter Farkas salvaged a point for Solihull.
Sheffield completed a remarkable fightback to draw 8-8 with Manchester. With an 8-5 lead at the start of the final period, Manchester appeared to be coasting to victory. But Chris Armstrong equalised and, in a dramatic final minute, 17-year-old Connor Carpenter and Alex Gaywood earned Sheffield a point. For all the latest results from the UK, go to www.bwpl.org.