More EFA Trophy Glory For Oxford
25/02/19: Oxford University retained the EFA Trophy in association with Advanta Wealth at Eton yesterday, taking the title in a repeat of last year's final against the Old Salopians at the end of a thrilling day's Fives.
After one of the best qualifying days in recent years back in November, finals day in the EFA Trophy managed to live up to expectations, producing some cracking matches in both the morning and the afternoon, with all four teams showing exactly what makes Fives such a great game, with skill, enjoyment, competition and sportsmanship all in equal evidence.
The two group winners from the qualifying tournament - Old Salopians and Oxford University - came into the semi-finals as strong favourites and both lived up to that tag, but their opponents pushed them hard all the way, with the North Oxford third pair producing an heroic comeback from 6-12, 3-12, 7-11 down to level at 2-2 before the Salopians conceded having already won the other two pairs. Defending champions Oxford University had to work even harder against the Old Olavians, winning the first game in all three pairs to 9. In fact, although Oxford won all three pairs 3-0, only one of the nine games played was won by a margin of victory of more than three points, which shows just how close it actually was.
As North Oxford clinched third place with an impressive win in the afternoon against the Olavians, the two heavyweights of the competition prepared to meet again in what was a repeat of last year's final. The "Old Firm" of Grant Williams & Mike Hughes struck first for the Salopians, holding off a strong second and third game challenge from Hal Gibson-Leitao & Ted Macdonald-Buchanan to win in three. That advantage was quickly cancelled out at first pair where Oxford's pairing of Arthur Wellesley & Sam Oppenheimer produced the standout performance of the day, winning 6,9 and 6 against the Salopian first pair of T Walters & Guy Williams, who had looked nigh on unbeatable in the tournament up to that point. This left third pair to fight it out for the win and it was advantage Oxford early on as Will Ponsonby & Crispin Straker edged the first tow games 15-13 and 15-12 against Sam Mcloughlin & Marc Quinn. There were no premature celebrations from the Oxford camp, however, as they then saw Mcloughlin & Quinn take control of the third game and establish a commanding lead. As often happens in any sport, though, momentum can be a fickle thing, and just when it seemed to be on the Salopian side, raising hopes of a dramatic comeback, it swung right back to the Oxford pair, Straker & Ponsonby storming through to level at 10-10 and then go on to win the third game 13-10 and keep the trophy in Oxford hands (although the trophy itself is literally still in the hands of last year's Oxford captain, from whom we hope to reclaim it soon).
Thanks go to Advanta Wealth for their sponsorship of the competition, to Eton for hosting the event and to all of the teams who took part in both the qualifying and finals days.
Old Salopians beat North Oxford 2-1
Guy Williams & T.Walters beat T.McCahon & C.Lloyd 3-0 (12-3, 12-8, 12-2)
Grant Williams & M.Hughes beat N.Turnbull & S.Chapman 3-0 (12-3, 12-7, 12-3)
S.Mcloughlin & M.Quinn lost to K.Hird & D.Cox 2-3 (12-6, 12-3, 11-12, 5-12 ret)
Oxford University beat Old Olavians 3-0
A.Wellesley & S.Oppenheimer beat J.Ravi & S.Kundu 3-0 (12-9, 12-9, 12-4)
T.Macdonald-Buchanan & H.Gibson-Leitao beat J.Lawrence & H.Young 3-0 (12-9, 14-12, 12-9)
W.Ponsonby & C.Straker beat G.Wiseman & T.Liddemore 3-0 (12-9, 12-9, 12-8)
Oxford University beat Old Salopians 2-1
A.Wellesley & S.Oppenheimer beat Guy Williams & T.Walters 3-0 (12-6, 12-9, 12-6)
T.Macdonald-Buchanan & H.Gibson-Leitao lost to Grant Williams & M.Hughes 0-3 (2-12, 9-12, 8-12)
W.Ponsonby & C.Straker beat S.Mcloughlin & M.Quinn 3-0 (15-13, 15-12, 13-10)
North Oxford beat Old Olavians 3-0
T.McCahon & C.Lloyd beat J.Ravi & S.Kundu 3-0 (12-6, 14-13, 12-6)
N.Turnbull & S.Chapman beat J.Lawrence & H.Young 2-1 (15-12, 12-13, 14-11)
K.Hird & D.Cox beat G.Wiseman & T.Liddemore 3-0 (12-6, 12-10, 12-10)