The British League’s men’s and women’s Super 5s competitions are heading for spectacular finales at Gloucester on 18/19 March after a dramatic latest round of matches at the Salt Ayre Pool, Lancaster.
Cheltenham began the Lancaster weekend with a four-point lead and as hot favorites to claim a third consecutive men’s title. But they were knocked out of their stride by Midlands team Solihull, who have made a big impression in their first season at the top level.
Solihull, who earlier had defeated Manchester 13-9, beat Cheltenham 7-6. They were 6-5 down at the start of the last period when Albert Tarres converted a man-up opportunity. But Cheltenham offenses then gave the Midlanders a sniff of victory – and they grabbed it with both hands. Peter Farkas’s penalty leveled it at 6-6 before Jordan Elliot netted the winner from a man-up chance.
Cheltenham later beat Scottish team Caledonia 16-9. It means they start the final weekend with a two-point lead over second-placed Lancaster, who defeated Caledonia 12-5 and Manchester 11-9. But nothing is guaranteed – their clash with Lancaster at Gloucester could well be a title decider.
The women’s Super 5s is just as competitive. The city of Manchester go to the finale weekend with a one-point advantage over reigning champions Liverpool Lizards and London club Otter – and with matches to play against both their immediate rivals.
Otter stormed back into contention by defeating Liverpool 6-5 – the Lizards’ first reverse in three seasons of Super 5s competition. The teams were evenly matched throughout, with the score level at 3-3 after two quarters and 4-4 after three. A Hazel Musgrove penalty – her third goal of the match – then edged Liverpool ahead only for Claudia Ferrone to equalize. And it remained locked at 5-5 until just six seconds from the end, when Cecily Turner struck with the Otter winner. For all the latest information from the UK, go to www.bwpl.org.