Going into last weekend, Imperial Wolverines 1st team were leading the University Dodgeball League South, closely followed behind by Hertfordshire Stags A’s in second place. Last Saturday saw the second match of a back to back Imperial/Hertfordshire showdown; the winner of which would most likely go on to win the league.
At the previous encounter, we narrowly ousted a strong Hertfordshire team, 16-12; having to earn every point from an unfaltering opposition. Although Hertfordshire lost the last fixture, with a much stronger point difference than us, a win for them could prove pivotal in the conclusion of the league.
The game started and it was clear from the start that Hertfordshire changed their gameplan from the previous match. Instead of single throws which allowed us gain lots of catches, Herts resolved to two ball throws, particularly pinning our two wings, Nithin Thoppuram and Steve Ndumbe. Hertfordshire set the tempo in the first game, catching us off guard and pinging us out individually until eventually, Steve was a lone Wolverine faced with four Herts players. With little time left, Steve single handedly whittled down the Stags to a single player. The game ended a draw – a fortunate result considering our poor team effort.
“Throw together and dodge alone”
After a shaky start, we settled as a team and concentrated on shaping the game to our liking. We won the next few games with fantastic throw accuracy from Vino Arulanthanan, Nithin, and Steve after an in game change of tactics.
Hertfordshire answered back intermittingly with their own victories. In games where we went down on players, tremendous dodging skills, for example from our Captain, Filip Sebest, allowed us to run down the clock and minimise the effectiveness of their game victory. We knew our strategy was working as we entered the break; the score at 8-4.
Although we struggled to gain three ball advantage off the start of each match, sporadic catches from Leo Haigh and Lochlann Allison gave us initial number advantages which then allowed our strong throwers to pick off the Stags one by one. We would’ve been naïve to think Hertfordshire would go down without a fight, gaining small advantages of their own from getting hits off pre-throws and with punishing counters at the half way line.
In the end, we remained absolute as a team, and worked a well-deserved victory from our closest rivals. With two wins from two against the Stags and remaining unbeaten, we have a fantastic chance of defending our league champions title. However, the season is far from over: fierce competition from the likes of UCL Pumas and UEA Falcons 1s have the potential to cause an upset. We will however, as always, throw together and dodge alone.