France, as the host nation, really want to perform in front of the crowds. Fastforward to mid-day Tuesday, and only their Mixed Masters and Grandmaster Men’s teams are unbeaten. This French Grandmasters team is looking strong too. They’ve recorded a 13-0 victory against UAE, a 9-8 sudden-death win vs Sweden, and strong victories against European rivals Germany and Spain. They’re from all over France, but they’ve been playing together for years. And they were out to represent.
Great Britain Grandmasters weren’t unbeaten, but were looking strong. A one-point loss to Canada (11-12) was the only red mark on an otherwise exemplary scoresheet. They hadn’t played any warm up tournaments, but had played the GBR Men’s Masters team, and the Grandmasters had ‘won roughly 80% of the time’. This fact was begrudgingly confirmed by some nearby GBR Men’s Masters players. Representing many GBR teams of old – LLLeeds, Clapham, Mild Mannered Janitors – they would clearly be no pushover for the French.
One thing you can expect from Grandmasters teams is clinical offence. The other thing you can apparently expect is layouts. Rik Shipley layouts out for a GBR score. Then Dave Banard lays out for another. Dave Grayson catches a disc thrown to him by France, and then gets another layout(ish) score. Ben ‘Hooves’ Mitchell gets a D/layout score combo of his own, and Banard gets another D, but doesn’t layout for his score. It’s 5-0, and GBR haven’t turned the disc yet.
Finally, France generate a GBR turn. The disc changes hands a couple of times until GBR put it in, but their flow has been interrupted. Nicholas Harin assists to Alexandre Simonin for the first France score. At this point, the game changes, and France really start being competitive. GBR 6 – 1 FRA. Britain get back to basics as Si Hill throws a cross pitch hammer for the score. France play through GBR physicality as Simonin assists again. They trade to GBR 9 – 3 FRA, as chants of “be boring” come from the GBR sideline.
France listen, and take the advice the GBR players won’t. They put three points on the board in a row, with some excellent defence and nice, boring offence. The score is 9-6, but it’s too late. The rest of the game has zero turns from either side. A Si Hill elbow-spike at 11-7 indicates GBR have this game in the bag, and a lovely high release flick from Si Weeks seals it.
Quotes from the sideline
Harry Golby (GB Grandmasters) – We were warming up 45 minutes before the game. They turned up only ten minutes before. We took half 7-1, and got disappointed when we started to trade. It was all about the attitude early on.
Matthew Lefevre (France Grandmasters) – We came out with a little bit of nerves at the beginning. We were finally able to get back into the match, but it was a little too late.
Daniel Haas (volunteer) – GB started really strong. France mounted a good comeback, but came up a little short.
Laurent Gauthier (SOTG official) – An intense game. Interesting because of the two parts. The first was good, GBR went up and up. The second half was much more balanced.
By Harry Mason.