2012 Northern Tournament Festival: Cymru am Byth

The Northern Tournament Festival was won at the weekend by Cardiff University pair Alex Yusaf and Edward Leakey, who defeated Shrewsbury School pair Sansom Yick and Jamie Humes 2-1 (12-7, 11-12, 12-5) in the final to win the Malcolm Mitchell Memorial Shields.

The Festival this year at the Northern Tournament attracted a record entry of 40 pairs, featuring several home-town Shrewsbury pairs alongside men's pairs, women's pairs and mixed pairs from all points of the Fives compass, from Ipswich to Zuoz and from St.Bees to St.Olave's.

The final of the tournament was a perfect reflection of this, with promising schoolboys Sansom Yick and Jamie Humes representing hosts Shrewsbury and Old Ipswichian Alex Yusaf partnering fellow Cardiff University student Edward Leakey - a talented sportsman and experienced Rugby Fives player in only his third Eton Fives tournament. Their path to the final had not been straightforward - both pairs had had to make their way through a large number of pool games plus a last sixteen knockout round on Saturday and best of three quarter and semi-finals on Sunday. Between them they had to see off many of the other fancied pairs on the way - Ipswichian pairs Gareth Hoskins and Annabel Griffiths and Oli Watts and Peter Baxter, Windsor & Eton's Will Skjott and Hugo Tobias and Olavian school pair Sam Rix and Sudhir Balaji to name just a few, as well as several other strong Shrewsbury School pairs.

The final was an exciting match and the last of the whole weekend to be completed, with nerves and tiredness both playing a part. The younger pair looked beaten at one stage but fought back impressively to steal the second game and level at 1-1 to take the match into a decider. In the end, though, it was the greater experience of Alex Yusaf and the impressive speed with which Edward Leakey had managed to adapt to a different code of Fives that made the difference as they went on to to take the third game 12-5 and get their hands on the impressive Malcolm Mitchell Memorial Shields, which were fittingly presented by Malcolm's son Andrew and daughter Fiona.

With Fives flourishing again at Rydal Penrhos and this victory for Cardiff University, these are heady days indeed for Welsh Fives!

Quarter-Finals:

A.Yusaf & E.Leakey beat W.Skjott & H.Tobias 2-0

S.Rix & S.Balaji beat T.Ravi & W.Phillips 2-1

S.Yick & J.Humes beat G.Hoskins & A.Grifiths 2-1

F.Jackson & B.Ho beat J.Dudson & W.Chirayus 2-1

Semi-Finals:

A.Yusaf & E.Leakey beat S.Rix & S.Balaji 2-0 (12-9, 13-12)

S.Yick & J.Humes beat F.Jackson & B.Ho 2-1 (15-13, 7-12, 12-4)

Final:

A.Yusaf & E.Leakey beat S.Yick & J.Humes 2-1 (12-7, 11-12, 12-5)

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