EFA Trophy 2013: Old Salopians slay the Knights

The Monday Knights spectacular debut run in the EFA Trophy was finally halted at Eton yesterday by the Old Salopians, who reclaim the trophy for the first time since 2004.

The morning semi-finals saw old EFA Trophy rivals the Old Salopians and the Old Etonians go head to head. The Salopians drew first blood with the father and son Williams duo at first pair seeing off Fritz von Guionneau and Hamish Mackenzie in straight games. Victory was sealed when second pair Marc Quinn and Henry Blofield defeated Martin Fiennes and Charlie Fairbanks-Smith - briefly seconded from the 24 hour Fives marathon next door and looking somewhat bleary eyed as a consequence - by three games to nil. Some honour was restored by the vastly experienced Etonian third pair of Jonathan Asquith and Tim Best who were 2-1 ahead of Peter Nichols and Sam Jarvis when the other two pairs finished.

The other semi-final featured defending champions the Old Wulfrunians and the surprise package of the 2013 EFA Trophy the Monday Knights. Wulfrunian skipper Sid Simmons led from the front at first pair as he and Andy Husselbee cruised past Marco Rimini and Paddy Gibbs, but the Knights were hoping that their strength in depth would pay dividends and second pair Bill Emlyn Jones and Johnny Saunders duly obliged, recovering from losing the first game to defeat Mark Yates and Phil Bullock in four close games. With Mike Skjott and Tom Emlyn Jones 2-0 ahead of schoolboys Matt Pritchard and Tom Husselbee in the third court, the result seemed done and dusted but the Wulfrunian youngsters showed they are made of stern stuff as they began to get to grips with a style of Fives from their opponents that they will not have seen much of at school level. To their great credit they came back to level at 2-2, including a 15-14 fourth game nailbiter and a large crowd gathered at the back of the court for the decider. Skjott and Emlyn Jones could easily have become downhearted having been pegged back and then seen chances to win the match in four pass them by, but they dug deep and began to reimpose their game on Matt and Tom, finally coming through in five tough sets to clinch a place in the final for the Knights.

The Wulfrunians won the 3rd/4th place play-off 2-1 over the Etonians but the attention for most of the afternoon was focused on the final. Grant and Guy Williams once again got the Salopians off to a flyer as they rushed out to a 2-0 lead over Rimini and Gibbs. The Knights pair finally began to find some form in the third game and came agonisingly close to taking the match into a fourth, before going down 14-13 and putting the Salopians one up. The other two pairs were proving to be much closer; the Knights had the initial advantage, going 1-0 up at both second and third pair with 15-14 and 12-11 wins respectively. Quinn and Blofield then took the Salopians to the brink of victory by taking the next two games at second pair 12-8 and 14-12. In the third court, the match was beautifully poised at 2-2, with every game 12-8 or closer and with Bill Emlyn Jones and Johnny Saunders 11-9 up in the fourth game at second pair it looked like the match would be going to the wire. If ever there was a moment for Marc Quinn and Henry Blofield to step up this was it and they responded perfectly to the challenge; some fine cut returning and a slight tiring from the Monday Knights duo saw the Salopian second pair level at 11-11 then go on to win 14-11, take the rubber 3-1 and win the EFA Trophy for the Salopians. The third pair agreed a 2-2 draw at that point and everyone took the opportunity to reflect on a terrific contest and a tremendous day's Fives.

Thanks go to the team captains for their organisation, to Eton for hosting the tournament, and to all of the players who showed exactly how it is possible to play Fives in a highly competitive but extremely friendly and sporting way.

Semi-Finals

Old Salopians beat Old Etonians 2-1

G.Williams & G.Williams beat H.Mackenzie & F.von Guionneau 3-0 (12-5, 12-2, 12-7)

M.Quinn & H.Blofield beat M.Fiennes & C.Fairbanks-Smith 3-0 (12-1, 12-2, 12-9)

P.Nichols & S.Jarvis lost to J.Asquith & T.Best 1-2 (7-12, 12-5, 5-12)


Monday Knights beat Old Wulfrunians 2-1

M.Rimini & P.Gibbs lost to S.Simmons & A.Husselbee 0-3 (5-12, 0-12, 3-12)

B.Emlyn Jones & J.Saunders beat M.Yates & P.Bullock 3-1 (8-12, 12-9, 12-9, 12-5)

T.Emlyn Jones & M.Skjott beat T.Husselbee & M.Pritchard 3-2 (12-7, 12-3, 8-12, 14-15, 12-8)


3rd/4th

Old Wulfrunians beat Old Etonians 2-1

S.Simmons & A.Husselbee beat J.Asquith & F.von Guionneau 2-0 (12-5, 12-6)

M.Yates & P.Bullock beat M.Asquith & T.Best 2-0 (13-11, 13-10)

T.Husselbee & M.Pritchard lost to M.Fiennes & C.van der Hout 0-2 (9-12, 7-12)


Final

Old Salopians beat Monday Knights 2½-½

G.Williams & G.Williams beat M.Rimini & P.Gibbs 3-0 (12-5, 12-1, 14-13)

M.Quinn & H.Blofield beat B.Emlyn Jones & J.Saunders 3-1 (14-15, 12-8, 14-12, 14-11)

P.Nichols & S.Jarvis drew with T.Emlyn Jones & M.Skjott 2-2 (11-12, 12-10, 8-12, 12-8)


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