EFA Trophy Qualifiers: Semi-Final Line Up Decided
07/11/23: This year's EFA Trophy in association with Advanta Wealth qualifiers took place at Highgate and Aldenham at the weekend, with some fantastic Fives played to decide the four semi-finalists.
With our larger venues unavailable and a healthy entry of twelve teams this year, the competition was split across two venues, with each one played as a round robin tournament and two qualifiers from each emerging at the end of the day to take their place at finals day in February.
The defending champions were in action in Group A at Highgate and the Old Salopians looked in ominous form throughout the day, easing their way to qualification and only dropping a couple of pairs once top spot had been achieved. That was against Oxford University and it was nearly enough to take the students through in second place; as it was it left them one point short of the St.Olave's School team and they were left ruing a 15-14 second pair defeat having been 14-9 ahead in their head to head match earlier in the day.
It was also good to see the Monday Knights returning to play in the EFA competition and they were as competitive as always, finishing only one point behind Oxford and causing problems for every team they played. Cambridge University also put in a strong showing and are shaping up well this year; both they and the Westway team didn't get the numbers on the final scoreboard that their play throughout the day deserved.
The Aldenham group had several parallels with its Highgate counterpart. North Oxford proved themselves to be the dominant force, completing a clean sweep of 15 wins from 15 (although that required two 15-14 wins against the Wulfrunians), with most of the other teams in contention for the second qualifying place, which went down to the wire in the final round of matches. The Old Wulfrunians arrived with the EFA Trophy pedigree; they had one or two of their star players missing, though, and fielded a slightly experimental line-up, which was great to see with the future of the club in mind. They nearly made it through too, their hopes eventually scuppered by coming out on the wrong side of three 15-14 matches during the course of the day. With the Old Citizens playing the Westway role - some good Fives, some close matches but not enough wins to challenge at the top of the table - the other three teams were all keen to capitalise on the Wulfrunians' sudden death woes. Newbury showed their improvement as a team by pushing North Oxford close in all three pairs but were undone by a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Ipswichians, who won all three pairs by a collective margin of eight points. That result proved to be crucial in the end, as it set the OIs up for a winner takes all final match against competition newcomers the Old Cantabs. The Cantabs first pair of Ben Merrett & James Grant-Peterkin won their game 15-13 but the Ipswichians' strength in depth saw them through, their second and third pairs winning to take them into second place.
The semi-finals will take place on Sunday Feb 11th (venue tbc) and will see North Oxford take on St.Olave's School and the Old Ipswichians up against the Old Salopians.
My thanks go to Aldenham and Highgate for hosting the tournament, to Advanta Wealth for their continued sponsorship, to Adam Morris for ensuring things ran smoothly at Highgate and to all of the team captains for their assistance in making the day such a success.
Group A (Highgate)
1. Old Salopians 13 points
2. St.Olave's School 10 points
3. Oxford University 9 points
4. Monday Knights 8 points
5. Cambridge University 4 points
6. Westway 1 point
Old Salopians beat Monday Knights 3-0 (15-8, 15-10, 15-11)
Oxford University beat Westway 3-0 (15-4, 15-4, 15-9)
St.Olave's School beat Cambridge University 3-0 (15-7, 15-5, 15-7)
Old Salopians beat St.Olave's School 3-0 (15-10, 15-11, 15-4)
Monday Knights beat Westway 3-0 (15-1, 15-1, 15-7)
Oxford University beat Cambridge University 2-1 (15-9, 15-14, 14-15)
Monday Knights beat Cambridge University 2-1 (15-7, 14-15, 15-9)
Old Salopians beat Westway 3-0 (15-8, 15-5, 15-6)
St.Olave's School beat Oxford University 2-1 (7-15, 15-14, 15-11)
Old Salopians beat Cambridge University 3-0 (15-4, 15-10, 15-4)
Monday Knights beat Oxford University 2-1 (11-15, 15-5, 15-12)
St.Olave's School beat Westway 3-0 (15-3, 15-1, 15-10)
Oxford University beat Old Salopians 2-1 (15-12, 15-9, 3-15)
Cambridge University beat Westway 2-1 (9-15, 15-6, 15-10)
St.Olave's School beat Monday Knights 2-1 (15-10, 5-15, 15-6)
Group B (Aldenham)
1. North Oxford 15 points
2. Old Ipswichians 9 points
3. Old Cantabs 7 points
4. Newbury 6 points
5. Old Wulfrunians 6 points
6. Old Citizens 2 points
North Oxford beat Old Cantabs 3-0 (15-10, 15-7, 15-1)
Newbury beat Old Citizens 3-0 (15-7, 15-13, 15-1)
Old Wulfrunians beat Old Ipswichians 2-1 (15-2, 15-8, 1-15)
Old Cantabs beat Newbury 2-1 (15-4, 15-3, 3-15)
North Oxford beat Old Ipswichians 3-0 (15-9, 15-5, 15-9)
Old Wulfrunians beat Old Citizens 2-1 (15-2, 13-15, 15-3)
North Oxford beat Newbury 3-0 (15-7, 15-12, 15-10)
Old Ipswichians beat Old Citizens 3-0 (15-8, 15-9, 15-7)
Old Cantabs beat Old Wulfrunians 2-1 (15-6, 13-15, 15-14)
Old Ipswichians beat Newbury 3-0 (15-12, 15-14, 15-11)
North Oxford beat Old Wulfrunians 3-0 (15-7, 15-14, 15-14)
Old Cantabs beat Old Citizens 2-1 (15-5, 14-15, 15-3)
Newbury beat Old Wulfrunians 2-1 (15-5, 15-10, 9-15)
Old Ipswichians beat Old Cantabs 2-1 (13-15, 15-11, 15-6)
North Oxford beat Old Citizens 3-0 (15-6, 15-3, 15-0)