With Sunday likely to be the decisive day in Roses 2009, Nouse previews the action.
ARCHERY (From 10.00), Pitch behind Sports Tent
Given their 90% winning record in Roses tournaments over the years, York’s archers are surprisingly downbeat about their prospects this time around. Whether dampening expectations deliberately or not, outgoing team Captain Ed Russell-Johnson admitted expectations of victory aren’t great. Several things trouble him; the disjointed preparations caused by the onslaught of summer term exams, the fact novices in the team have only just graduated to the outdoor 60 metre targets, and the simple fact Lancaster have looked a force to be reckoned with on recent evidence. Even so, a prediction of two points out of ten on offer seems a little pessimistic.
Russell-Johnson spoke to Nouse: “Lancaster have looked very strong in some other competitions. They have three very good senior male archers, but the rest of them aren’t that exciting. We’re basically hoping to win two out of our ten points. Those will be for the senior female and novice male, fingers crossed. Those are the categories in which we look strongest. There may be some others. Sadly, the biggest slice of points is for the senior team, and Lancaster will probably have the edge there.”
VOLLEYBALL: Mixed (10.00), Tent
Having contested for the points in their respective teams on Saturday, the volleyball men and women of the two universities will amalgamate for the mixed event early on Sunday morning. With four points on offer at a decisive moment in the weekend, the importance of the match shouldn’t be underestimated, a fact acknowledged by men’s Captain Jack Butcher.
“The mixed game is hard to call because it is the only mixed game either side plays in the course of the year. It involves playing a completely different system to either men’s or women’s fixtures and will be largely affected by which team adapts and gels together best,” he said.
TABLE TENNIS: Mixed Firsts and Mixed Seconds (11.00), Dance Studio
Both York and Lancaster’s first and second teams, each consisting of four players, will contest a round-robin tournament during a feast of exciting table tennis on Sunday. Despite the transitional nature of York’s squads – three out of five first-teamers left last year – a successful BUCS season, including an enthralling run to the cup final, means the home side are realistically expecting the full six points. However, they will have to be on their guard against a Lancaster team who won all five of their BUCS League 2A matches this year.
BASKETBALL: Women’s (12.00), Men’s (14.00), Main Sports Hall
On paper, Lancaster men’s basketball enter as clear favourites in this stellar Sunday afternoon entertainment: winning seven of their nine matches, the Red Rose earned the BUCS League 2A title but lost to Durham in a promotion play-off late last term. They also reached the final of the BUCS Cup, going down to Leeds Met. Again this force, York ply their trade one tier below but some encouraging performances in finishing mid-table helped the team’s maturity, cohesion and development ahead of Roses. Lancaster gained the four points last year, winning 61-45, but York will be hoping to convert the inspiration of a boisterous sports hall crowd to their advantage and turn the tables.
In the women’s match last year, York’s 41-32 victory, and the four points it earned on the final afternoon, proved critically important and, as then, it could go either way this time. Both teams have just completed under par seasons, winning only two league matches apiece and both compete at the same BUCS League standard. Both also suffered BUCS Cup exits at the first hurdle; York losing to a strong Leeds Met team, Lancaster narrowly to Liverpool John Moores. Once again, it’s apparent that small factors such as home advantage could make all the difference.
FOOTBALL: Women’s Firsts (12.00), Men’s Seconds (12.00), Men’s Firsts (14.00), Football Pitches
Traditionally the main event which concludes the Roses weekend, this year’s men’s firsts clash might well have everything riding on it, with four precious points available. UYAFC will be guaranteed a bumper crowd on the 22 Acres as they seek to round off a hopefully successful Roses weekend and, in the process, exact some revenge for last year’s controversial defeat.
Having enjoyed promotion during 2007-2008, this season has been one of consolidation in a tricky division for the White Rose. Highlights included late-season wins over Durham and Teesside (home and away) to cement a fourth place finish, not to mention a stirring run to the quarter-finals of the BUCS Cup and some excellent performances in the Northern Universities League, where Leeds Met and UCLAN firsts have been well beaten. With a transition likely over the close season, Roses represents a swansong for some of the team’s third-year stalwarts.
Consistency of selection from a tight-knit squad has been favoured by firsts’ skipper Matt Witherwick, who will be aiming to dominate central midfield against Lancaster. The striking options present a dilemma, with Anton ‘Dreamz’ Murphy increasingly challenging Dom O’Shea and Mark Gouland, prolific this season, for the forward berths. Tom Wilson was battered in last year’s indoor football, but has gone from strength to strength in offering quality service to the frontmen, working well with Mark McLeod in midfield.
What of the opposition from across the Pennines? Their season was similar to York’s, ending up fourth in BUCS 2A, the North-West equivalent, winning three matches but suffering some heavy losses to the Merseyside universities along the way. They were also eliminated in the first round of the BUCS Cup by Liverpool seconds. All indications, then, point to a close match between teams of a similar pedigree, with York’s more watertight defence possibly the difference between the combatants.
In many ways, the women’s firsts mirrored their male counterparts, finishing third bottom and winning three league matches in BUCS League 3B. Relegation, though, was never a concern and, had postponements not got in the way, the girls could have finished much higher. Highlight of the season was an engrossing fightback at home to Leeds seconds back in November, the game finishing 4-3 to York, and the 5-0 romp over Hull on the opening afternoon.
Lancaster represents a tough proposition for Carey Kalym’s team, however. They play a tier higher in the BUCS pyramid and were narrowly behind Manchester Met in the final standings, as well as reaching the last four of the BUCS Cup. The women’s team will, without doubt, need to be at the top of their game on Sunday afternoon.
Sunday’s other events:
LACROSSE: Mixed (10.00), Lacrosse Pitch 1
HOCKEY: Mixed Seconds (11.30), Mixed Firsts (13.00), Men’s Thirds (14.30), JLD Astroturf
EXHIBITION – OCTOPUSH: Mixed (TBC), CROQUET: Chancellors, Vice-Chancellors and AU Presidents (15.00), Heslington Hall