Saturday the 18th May saw the Manchester Chargers squad assemble in drizzly Banbury for the second Steeden Development National Touch Series of the season. Expectations were once again high following the resounding success at the first DTS of the year in Chester.
Before the first game captain fantastic James even had time for a media appearance with England Touch although worryingly they did manage to confuse him with Gregg, and also that round one was in Manchester, not Chester…
Team changes from the first tournament saw Cropper, Sisters Uzezi and Ellie Ossuetta, Overbury and Lauren Hillson (making her tournament debut) came in for Bailey, Crowe, Flach, Thompson, Uari and Kiernan. They joined Mather, Crawford, Simons, Crosse and Armitage who had all been part of the triumphant team from DNTS round one. A strong squad albeit with only three girls, we could not afford any injuries!
The first game saw us tap off against Percy Park who had a strong team out including a notable ex charger in Joe Ong. Good basics including some great driving through the middle saw Chargers set the template for success for the day with a 4-1 win. Sadly we don’t have a record of who scored in which games but no doubt b-team captain Jordan would like it confirmed that he probably scored in this one!
Next up saw chargers take on EY London Vipers in a low scoring affair which included a complete shutout of the opposition. Coach AJ Southgate’s winter defense drills working their magic for a 3-0 win. Harry A was by this point struggling badly with shin splints but was ever willing to return to the field when he had opportunity to throw another outrageous no look, behind the head pass. If only we were all on his wavelength!
Warwick Knights then provided a much sterner test with a narrow 5-4 win for the Chargers in the third pool game. By now the confidence of the team was growing with variety in attack and defensive communication to the fore. The final pool game saw a now rampant chargers force run out 7-3 winners against the Thames Valley Vikings to top the group and book their place in the cup quarter final! Some top tips from absent coach AJ Southgate via Whatsapp helped to refocus the team on the basics before the knockout rounds began, although Jordan was just on Instagram.
At 3pm, after James had bravely woken a sleeping Uzezi, the Chargers took the field against CSSC. The game was notable for some very enthusiastic refereeing which saw several Chargers penalised for a variety of offences on their own line. This included your correspondent having our own penalty over turned for back chat… go figure! In spite of this some fantastic line defense saw Chargers edge out a hard fought game 4-2. We were into the cup semi-final!
A strong Norwich Rebels team took the field for the semi-final and following on from the great defensive work in the previous games we kept them to a single score to record a 3-1 win and book our place in the cup final!
The final saw the Chargers take the field against Cheltenham, the one team we had failed to beat at DTS one in Chester. The game started well with Chargers touching down for a score in the corner but in the process Uzezi had suffered an injury to her knee and was hobbling badly. Without any female subs she bravely carried on and helped keep us in the game.
Next a mystery tap off move (which shall remain nameless in case anyone from Chester is reading) had Cheltenham bamboozled. At this point enter b-team captain and all round bearded wonder Jordan who stepped up to score three in the final and help the Chargers to a 7-4 win. A fantastic team effort which showed how far we have developed both as a team and individually!
Special mentions go to Lauren for a brilliant debut, Uzezi for playing on in the final with an injured knee and Adam for playing the whole day without having slept the night before!
Jordan and Uzezi also secured the tournament MVPs which testament to their individual skills and desire both in attack and defense. James collected the trophy to make it two in two with 80 points for Chargers as we head on to Norwich for DTS 3.