Cooley & Dunbar Win Number Twelve
04/04/22: Tom Dunbar & Seb Cooley won their twelfth successive Kinnaird Cup in association with Advanta Wealth at Eton yesterday with a 3-0 win in a magnificent final over Jonny Ho & Riki Houlden.
T Dunbar & S Cooley (1) beat J Ho & R Houlden (2) 3-0 (12-1, 12-4, 14-12)
Watch the match HERE
Normal service was resumed at Eton yesterday as Tom Dunbar & Seb Cooley held off a late challenge from Jonny Ho & Riki Houlden to win their twelfth Kinnaird title in a row, and an eighteenth overall for Tom.
Tom's ankle injury had ruled him out of the London and Northern tournament this year, which were dominated by Jonny & Riki. These two pairs hadn't met, therefore, since the Kinnaird final last year and it was the defending champions who got off to the better start, immediately hitting their stride and playing a near flawless first game, returning cut after cut and simply not allowing their opponents to gain a foothold in the match.
Riki & Jonny started the second game much better and the early stages were evenly matched, before once again the superior set piece play began to tell and Tom & Seb moved quickly from 5-4 to 12-4 to establish a two game lead. The scoreline was not really a reflection of the level of Fives that Riki & Jonny were producing, however, and they finally began to throw a few punches of their own in the third game, moving from 1-6 down (and staring defeat in the face) to 7-6 up in one superb hand. Suddenly they were back in the match and the small group of spectators at a chilly Eton and the much larger number watching the livestream had a much more even contest to watch. Could Jonny & Riki take it to a fourth game and start testing Seb & Tom's stamina and fitness? or could Seb & Tom hold on under pressure and see it out in three games? Seb & Tom got to 11 first at 11-9, but Riki & Jonny were equal to the task and held their nerve to level at 11-11. The game was set to 14 and again it was Tom & Seb who got their noses in front, moving to 13-11 with the help of a perfectly timed clip and roll off the back step from a Cooley cut return. Jonny & Riki pulled one back thanks to a miraculous Houlden return from a Cooley down the line cut that seemed to be past him, but a couple of rallies later it was yet another Dunbar cut return and a Cooley round the walls finish that clinched the winning point.
This was a fantastic match to watch, with an extraordinarily high standard of Fives even when the scoreline was looking one-sided and then with some real tension and excitement in the closing stages as Jonny & Riki finally managed to exert some pressure. Ultimately, though, Seb & Tom were once again just too good, playing seemingly as well as ever and continuing their amazing run in this competition. Who's betting against number 13 next year?
Thanks go to Eton for hosting the match, to Advanta Wealth for their sponsorship, to Chris Lumbard for organising the livestream and to Chris Davies for presenting the trophies.