UNIVERSITY OF YORK MEN’S 1STS 135 – UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE 119
BUCS Men’s Northern Conference 1A, Wednesday 5 November 2008
Captain Harry Whitwell inspired York to a superb fencing victory over the University of Newcastle today in the tent.
The home team had taken a commanding lead into the third and final discipline, the foil, but an impromptu early-rounds comeback from Newcastle meant York was indebted to a mesmerising performance from its captain for the win.
York is now unbeaten in its first two BUCS Northern 1A contests this term after beating Keele 125-107 last week; some feat for a team constantly punching above its weight against larger universities in a difficult league.
In the earlier weapons York had shown some smart play, taking the epee 45-35 and the sabre 45-43. With eleven points to play with, and some point specialists in Whitwell and James Quelch waiting in the wings, it seemed a certainty that York would stroll to the finish line in foil. But both Whitwell and Quelch struggled to find their rhythm in the early stages and Newcastle took a 20-11 lead.
Cue the captain. In his second fight, Whitwell beat his opponent 14-2 in a stunning three minutes and left the team 25-22 in the lead. From then on the result was never in doubt.
York’s fencers enjoyed a memorable victory over Newcastle (George Lowther)
Both teams matched-up missing some important players but fiery first year Pavel Gusmanov proved a positive addition for York, showing potential in some fine bouts. The language barrier was a problem at times for the Latvian, though, and when he questioned a call mid-way through the sabre, play was stopped for a good five minutes as the captains sought to appease the ensuing melee.
But his style provided great entertainment and his now trade-marked screech that accompanies the conclusion of each of his points increased in volume as the contest grew in intensity.
York expect to have another foilist back in Ben Rayner as they face tough matches against Manchester and Bangor in the next couple of weeks.
“Those games will be big,” said a humble Whitwell after the match. “We were down 23 – 16 in the sabre at one point, so it was a good victory in the end, albiet narrow in a couple of moments, but in all a really great team fight.
Harry Whitwell (c)