At the start of play, only champions City of Manchester and Solihull were sure of places in the Super 5s. It was a matter of working out the “what ifs” affecting other results – and there were plenty of those!
Invicta solved one problem straightaway when they opened with a 14-11 victory over Polytechnic. They were then secure, no matter what happened in remaining matches.
Next up was the crunch fixture at Lancaster between Lancaster and Sheffield. A Lancaster win would carry them to the Super 5s. But a Sheffield victory would put Invicta, Lancaster and Sheffield level on points and (based on a mini table of results between those three) leave Lancaster to plummet into the bottom three – IF Cheltenham defeated Sutton & Cheam.
We’ve learned not to anticipate any result in Division 1 this season! Despite the best efforts on behalf of Lancaster of eight-goal Tom Curwen, Sheffield won 13-12, recovering from 5-2 down at one stage and eventually ensuring success with goals in the final quarter by Chris Armstrong and Ben Stephenson.
So it was all down to the very last fixture. Surely, Cheltenham would account for Sutton and head once again for the Super 5s? It looked that way as Cheltenham began the final period with a 6-4 lead. But Sutton, led by five-goal Stephen Bayles (Photo: Trevor Hyde), were having none of it, Carlo Diegone claiming the winner 1.38 from the end of a breathless campaign.
Manchester, 20-6 victors over Solihull, finished with a perfect record from seven matches. They are joined by Solihull, Sheffield, Invicta and Lancaster in the Super 5s, with Sutton & Cheam, Cheltenham and Polytechnic experiencing life in a very competitive Championship 1.