Sensational Semis Send Superleague Soaring
After last week's rather low key quarter-finals, the 2017 Summer Superleague really took off last night with an absolutely sensational pair of semi-finals, with all four courts full and four high quality teams battling tooth and nail in matches that both went right down to the wire. Eventually the Aston House Thoroughbreds and Westway's Coach & Horses just edged out 2015 and 2016 champions Lethal Bizzle and the Jesters respectively to make it to next week's final.
The Thoroughbreds got off to a flying start in their match against Highgate's Lethal Bizzle with Laurie Brock & Chris Austin beating Jonny Ho & Tom Lethbridge and Rob Wilson & Nick Shaw taking down Matt Kovar & Dexter Davis, both 15-9. The second round of games were shared, leaving the Thoroughbreds in a very strong position - 3-1 ahead with a points difference of +14 - going in to the final round. The Highgate side were not finished yet, however, and Davis & Lethbridge produced their best Fives of the night to beat Austin & Wilson 15-6, leaving the match to be decided by the shootout between the 1s and 2s. When Ho & Kovar found themselves in an 11-4 lead, LB were suddenly in with a very real chance of staging a dramatic comeback, but AHT's Brock & Shaw dug deep to bring the match back to 13-13, ensuring the overall win, before going on to win 15-13 and take the match 4-2, securing a third win of the night for star of the show Laurie Brock, who also added three winners in the hole to his overall tally to regain joint leadership of the "Golden Gloves" competition with Ant Theodossi.
Aston House Thoroughbreds beat Lethal Bizzle 4-2
L.Brock & C.Austin beat J.Ho & T.Lethbridge 15-9
N.Shaw & R.Wilson beat M.Kovar & D.Davis 15-9
L.Brock & R.Wilson beat M.Kovar & T.Lethbridge 15-7
N.Shaw & C.Austin lost to J.Ho & D.Davis 9-15
L.Brock & N.Shaw beat J.Ho & M.Kovar 15-13
C.Austin & R.Wilson lost to T.Lethbridge & D.Davis 6-15
The other semi-final was even closer. The opening matches were shared as Ryan Perrie & Darshan Patel of the Coach & Horses got the better of Ant Theodossi & Charlie Nicholls for the Jesters while Andrew Joyce & Ed Hewens levelled things up with a win over Guy Chapman & Tim Thurnham. The second round saw the Coach & Horses make their move, with 15-14 and 15-12 wins to go 3-1 ahead. The margins were small, though, so the Jesters knew that if they could win the last two matches, they only needed to overturn a points difference of 5 to go through. With every point vital, the two matches inched toward a conclusion. Theodossi & Joyce got the first win on the board for the Jesters with a 15-12 triumph over Perrie & Chapman. meaning that if Nicholls & Hewens could win 15-12 or better, the Jesters would go through, 15-13 would produce a tie and any other result would put C&H into the final. The match was perfectly poised as Charlie & Ed got to 14-12 ahead with chances to win that they couldn't quite take. Tim & Darshan then got to 14-13, at which socre the match stayed deadlocked for several excruciating hands with a tie looming; eventually - to the relief of organiser Paul Bowden who was beginning to wonder how else to separate the sides - the damn broke just before the lights went out as Tim & Darshan got back to 14-14 and although Charlie & Ed got the final point to win 15-14 and level at 3-3, it was a pyrrhic victory and the Coach & Horses pair had done just enough to see their team through by one point on countback. An epic end to an epic evening of Fives.
Coach & Horses beat The Jesters 3-3 (81 points to 80)
R.Perrie & D.Patel beat A.Theodossi & C.Nicholls 15-9
G.Chapman & T.Thurnham lost to A.Joyce & E.Hewens 10-15
R.Perrie & T.Thurnham beat A.Joyce & C.Nicholls 15-14
G.Chapman & D.Patel beat A.Theodossi & E.Hewens 15-12
R.Perrie & G.Chapman lost to A.Theodossi & A.Joyce 12-15
D.Patel & T.Thurnham lost to C.Nicholls & E.Hewens 14-15
The final between AHT and C&H - as well as the wooden spoon match between the EFA All Stars and the Exiles - will take place at Westway at 7:15pm on Tuesday 18th July. All spectators are welcome; if the matches are even half as good as the semi-finals it will be an excellent evening's entertainment!