Men's and Women's NTS Round 2 wrap
The Men’s and Women’s NTS headed to Burton RFC for a packed weekend of action in the Men’s and Women’s National Touch Series.
Elite Men’s and Women’s NTS
There was a change at the head of the Elite Cup pecking order with Old Wesley taking home the trophy for the first time.
Wesley set out their stall in the pool stages with wins over both London Eagles and London Scorpions. The latter result was enough to decide the group, although even if they had finished level on points Wesley had a phenomenal +15 try difference.
Pool B went to the last match and a north-west derby between NQ Rebels and Wigan Warriors, who had both won their first two matches. The decider was close, the Rebels getting the edge 10-8 to progress to the final.
The final was a thrilling affair, another high scoring advert for touch. Old Wesley edged it 11-7 against Rebels to take a series win, but with a number of high class tries scored by the Rebels against a Dublin outfit including plenty of international players the English team can hold their heads high.
With the teams having been seeded from their results in Round 1 fierce competition was expected, and served up by the six teams.
NQ Rebels continued where they left off from Round 1 by winning their second Cup title and take control of the overall Series with one round to go. They were unbeaten in their pool stages with a win and a draw, with Raptors also coming through the group.
Pool B was won by London Eagles, who saw off Thames Valley and London Scorpions in the group stages.
NQ’s semi-final against Scorpions was a close affair, with the north-westerners winning 5-3. The winning margin in the other semi-final between London Eagles and Raptors was the same, but after those two narrow results the final was more one-sided on the scoreline as the Rebels cut loose to win 8-3.
The third-placed teams in each pool progressed through to the Plate Final, where Galaxy London edged Hot Custard 4-3.
The Women's Plate had a round-robin between Cambridge, Old Wesley, Galaxy London and Hot Custard, with the top team progressing to the final to play the fifth-best team from the Cup pool stages.
The pool stage of this competition could not have been tighter, with both try difference and tries scored used to separate all four teams, who had all finished on seven points with one win, one loss and a draw from their matches.
Cambridge topped the pool with a +1 try difference. Old Wesley and Galaxy were both level on try difference but Wesley got second with 13 tries scored. This left Hot Custard bottom of the pool with a -1 try difference, which was scant reward for their efforts.
With Nottingham the fifth-placed team in the Cup the Plate final became an all-Midlands clash, with Cambridge taking the momentum through from their morning to win 5-2.
This was another fiercely competitive competition with three of the teams in with a shout as the pools closed.
Oxford missed out, leaving Nottingham and Cambridge to compete in the final. These two clubs have been extremely well matched over the last few seasons, but on this occasion it was the Midlanders who took the spoils, winning the final 9-5 in a fast paced game.
Development Men’s and Women’s NTS
The 16 teams were divided into four pools on Saturday, with Chester Cheetahs, Bristol Jets and Galaxy London all recording 100 percent records in the morning’s round-robin stages.
PFT Foxes were the only pool winner to not record a perfect record, but they quickly became the team to watch in the afternoon as they progressed through the knockout stages to reach the final.
Fierce competition was the name of the game in pools A and B in the chase for the quarter finals, as only one point separated London Vipers and Revolution in Pool A and Cambridge from Thames Valley Vikings in Pool B.
PFT’s reward for seeing off London Eagles (4-1) and then Bristol (2-1) was a final against Galaxy London, who despite having a number of experienced players came into the day’s showpiece match with only one sub available.
This battle of numbers versus experience was intriguing to say the least, not least when the game went into extra time. PFT edged in front 5-4, but the moment of the match fell to Galaxy, who on the hooter had the ball dotted down, but on the seven metre line.
Heartbreak for the Londoners, ecstasy for PFT, who made it two Cup titles in succession.
The remaining eight teams went into the Plate, where Revolution’s Men followed their Women’s Round 1 Cup success by taking home their own silverware, beating Thames Valley Vikings in the final.
There were three pools in the Women's Cup Pools with another batch of close and hard fought matches.
Try difference settled Pool A with London Eagles getting ahead of Revolution with +4 beating the latter’s +1. However it was also a pool where wins were at a premium, as Revolution beat Cheltenham, who beat London Eagles, who beat Revolution.
Pool B was dominated by Wigan. The Warriors recorded a 100% pool record with 10 tries scored and only two conceded. In Pool C it was a similar story with Thames Valley Vikings sweeping all before them on the way to first place.
The competitiveness continued into the afternoon, with all four Cup quarter finals being decided by just one try, and Wigan then pipping Revolution 3-2 to set up a Final against Oxford, the dark blues’ second in as many tournaments.
However, as with last time out, Oxford were not able to secure the Cup title, Wigan winning 4-3.
Meanwhile London Eagles’ campaign continued into the Plate, which they won with a 5-0 win over Chester.
The four lowest-ranked teams from the morning went into a second round-robin to decide the Bowl winners.
This was tight-fought throughout, with three points separating the top from the bottom of the table.
A win and two draws for Nottingham was enough to take the win by a single point from Bristol who edged out Yorkshire Thorns on try difference. Despite only losing once, the closeness of the group left London Vipers bottom.
The Men’s and Women’s NTS returns to Oxford RFC on the weekend of May 28th (Elite) and 29th (Development) for the final rounds of this Series.