It was a case of ‘same again’ in the UK as Cheltenham carried off the British League men’s Super 5s title for the fourth time in six years and Liverpool Lizards completed a hat-trick of victories in the women’s competition. The finale weekend took place at the GL1 pool, Gloucester, and provided plenty of excitement and close finishes. At the end of a long season, men’s and women’s champions were both decided in winner-takes-all clashes of the two top sides.
Cheltenham looked vulnerable early on against Lancaster and, after two periods, trailed 8-4. The game then underwent a complete transformation as Cheltenham, inspired by a couple of superb goals by the outstanding Rob Parker, charged into a 9-8 lead – all in just under four, high-octane minutes. The surge destroyed Lancaster, who eventually went down 11-9.
Consolation for Lancaster came when they defeated Solihull 14-10 to finish as runners-up. Cheltenham rounded off with an easy 18-9 victory over City of Manchester, including a goal each for Spanish twins Albert and Marc Tarres, making their last appearances for the club before heading to Australia to continue their water polo careers.
The women’s competition turned into a two-horse race once London club Otter’s challenge evaporated in a 14-5 defeat by City of Manchester. With Liverpool Lizards defeating City of Coventry 15-4, it left the title to be decided by the clash of Manchester and Liverpool.
These sides know each other so well that defences dominated to an extent that a spell of more than 18 minutes passed without a goal! Liverpool eventually reached the last quarter with a 5-1 lead and looked totally at ease until Manchester, needing only a draw to steal the title, suddenly sprung into life, scoring twice – but then having a penalty saved by Liverpool goalkeeper Rosie Morris.
Liverpool then held out to win 5-3. For full details of the weekend action in the UK, go to www.bwpl.org.