Saturday of 6th week saw the culmination of this year’s water polo cuppers at the Iffley Road swimming pool. After preliminary matches the week before, the title was to be decided between St Annes, New, Hertford, and LMH, with a third-place play-off between the losers of each semi final.
New triumphed over LMH in the first of the semi finals, leaving Hertford and tournament favourites St Anne’s to battle it out for a place in the final. Anne’s started the brighter of the two and quickly took a one-goal lead. However, Hertford cancelled this out minutes later after a good combination between James Jurkiewicz and Andrej Jocivic. Soon after, Jurkiewicz was extremely unlucky not to double his tally, striking the cross bar twice in quick succession as Hertford built up strong pressure on the Anne’s team. However, thanks largely to the influential Blues player Rhushub Bidd, Anne’s built a 3-1 lead going into the final phase of the game. Water Polo newcomer Harry Jackson rifled in a long-range screamer with 3 minutes left, but it wasn’t enough as Hertford bravely succumbed to defeat.
St Anne’s victory put them into the final against New College. The final was a thrilling affair. Each team traded multiple blows before Sammi Chekroud scored for New, putting them 4-3 up with less than a minute to go. New must have thought it was all over, but Bidd asserted his value to the Anne’s team once more, whipping in a long-range equaliser with less than two seconds left on the clock.
Into extra time and it was New who captured vital possession at the restart. This proved to be crucial as it was in this spell, after some lengthy build up, that Adam Chekroud rose above the Anne’s defence to edge New in front.
Things got worse for Anne’s soon after as there talisman Bidd was ‘wrapped’: ejected from the pool after being sent out three times. This was perhaps the game’s defining moment as New managed to hold onto the ball and secure the title in the most dramatic of fashions. Meanwhile, Hertford secured third place with a 5-4 victory over LMH, Andrej Jocivic stylishly providing the winner.
Whilst New were impressive in victory, the most memorable aspect of the event was the number of novices present in all teams who competed valiantly against more experienced players, in a competition that was largely played in competitive but good spirit.
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