The A Grade at Pennine ended in controversial circumstances as the Crusaders were awarded the victory, despite pulling out and not playing their final match.
To be fair to them, they had destroyed the other two teams in A grade already when they played them on the Saturday and would have undoubtably beaten a weakened Highlanders team when they were due to play them in the showpiece match at 3pm on Sunday. However, Rick the Lionheart and his merry men decided they either didn’t want to, or couldn’t play that final match (maybe they had to go convert some people to Christianity) and so they talked to the Highlanders and they agreed to call off the final match.
This decision robbed the crowd of an A grade final and left a bitter taste in the mouths of many. This was not made any sweeter by the fact that not a single Crusader remained to pick up their prize at prize giving later in the afternoon (though they may not have been aware that they were going to win anything as they had pulled out). There were muttering in the crowd that should not be allowed to pull out and still win and also some people went as far to say that they should be disciplined in some way. On the plus side, Rick Murray sat his anger management course on Friday before he came to the tournament and apparently it was a great success!
3rd) Highlanders/ Pendle
Best Numbers (all Crusaders):
1) Andy Baker
2) Regan Gloyn
3) Hannah Watkin
Best Horse and Rider: Charlotte Pykett and Sasha
The B grade was won well by the home club, Pennine, combined with Celyn. Club Captain Joel Sics said he was delighted with the way his young Pennine section performed as they ended the weekend undefeated. They beat Kent twice and Crusaders once (the Crusaders B grade followed their A grade team and withdrew after being beaten 17-6 by Kent on Sunday morning).
Kent fought hard against Pennine/Celyn in their second match, going down 14-10 but ultimately the youth of Pennine and the experience of the Simkin Sisters (or Sarah Simkin and Ruth Jones as they are now) proved too much for them, despite Kent having acquired the services of the Zimbabwean international, Bradley Clark, from Arden for the weekend.
1) Ruth Jones (nee Simkin, Celyn)
2) Wayne Henning (Kent)
3) Sarah Simkin (Celyn)
The C grade was won by a well organised and consistent team of Arden Ladies (plus Ben Marsh on loan from Kent). Hannah Oliver-Byrne and Tor Phillips both scored good goals all weekend for Arden and they were ably backed up by the rest of their team in the shape of Frankie Keen, Ben Marsh, Alex Rulon-Miller and Sophie Phillips. Pennine (plus a few borrowed players) played them in the final match on Sunday and despite working hard they could never really contain Arden.
Best Numbers (All Arden):
1) Tori Phillips
2) Frankie Keen
3) Sophie Phillips
The D Grade was won by Pennine (again with some help from borrowed players, including Dawn Goodfellow, the mother of UK and Highlanders’ stars Guy and James Robertson) This was a very hard fought division and it could have gone to any of the teams in it but ultimately Pennine just won through.
1) Sammy Rowden (Pennine, on loan from Kent)
2) Gabbie Ward (Arden)
3) Dawn Goodfellow (Pennine)
The Juniors signalled a returned to winning ways for Celyn (after they were defeated at last year’s Nationals by Kent) as they combined with Pennine to see off the threat of an Arden section combined with the Wessex Warriors and another Pennine team. The Hughes-Clay girls picked up Best 1 and 3, something they did a great deal last season, but the other teams pushed them hard and hopefully there will be some more good junior matches later on in the season
1st) Pennine/ Celyn
2nd) Arden/ Wessex Warriors
1) Laura Hughes-Clay (Celyn)
2) Lucinda Cornforth (Arden)
3) Amy Hughes-Clay (Celyn)
Best Horse and Rider: Laura Hughes-Clay
Special Awards for good spirit/ sportmanship:
1) David Baker (Wessex Warriors, on loan from Arden)
2) Katie Newbrook (Celyn, on loan from Centaur)