The Professional League Team had a great Tournament starting off the tournament against the Prague Robots. These were pretty much the same teams and line up’s that had battled it out in Dublin in February at the Euro Qualifiers (where we came out on top). Knowing we were capable of beating them we started the game off well going goal for goal but always making them work for each of their goals. The end result was a one point win for the Warriors 31-30.
Next were the Bochum Roadrunners. This was a very different team to the Robots. They had a big height advantage over us, which meant they were always able to receive the inbounds. But we were still able to turn the ball over or force a bad pass here and there and slowly pulled away as the game progressed. We came out with a 33-28 win.
Saturday was a total opposite of the day before. Our first game was against the Crashing Dream Team from Holland who had won last years Professional League. From the off we were not the free flowing unit we had been on Friday and were struggling to just get out of our half of the court. The Dream Team punished every mistake we made which only seemed to frustrate us even more. Towards the end of the match we switched some of our tactics, which worked very well but by then it was too late. The game finished 34-26 to the Crashing Dream Team.
Loosing to the Dream Team meant we were up against the Flying Wheels from Austria in the cross over match. The flying Wheels were the favourites to win the Professional League as the team was made up of 5 of the Austrian national team. Knowing this would be our toughest game so far we were determined to make up for our game against the Crashing Dream Team and play to our full potential. Again we didn’t start off well in the first quarter but in the second we started to communicate much better and were playing some very good rugby. Unfortunately we were still not able to keep the score close and lost the game 46-30. Though the score line might not have looked good we left the game upbeat as we had played some great rugby and would now be going into the 3rd Place Play Off against the Crashing Dream Team, hopefully with the chance for revenge.
After going through our tactics for what must have been the 100th time on Sunday morning we tipped off against the Dream Team. We immediately went into a 2 goal lead which we held to the end of the first quarter. By the end of the second we were up by six. In the third we went goal for goal with the Dutch getting a lucky turnover. Into the final quarter and with a five goal lead in hand we planned on getting the ball over the half way line and running as many seconds off the clock before we scored. This didn’t go as planned as we gave away three turnovers in a row, two coming from bad inbounds and one from a dropped ball. The team showed great character though and didn’t let this put them off their game. We stuck to the game plan and eventually won the game 39-34 and got the third place trophy we fully deserved.
With some last minute changes in players due to illness the team playing in the Advanced League had a hard few days ahead of them with limited player line-ups available to them. The first game up we were playing the Outlaws who had played the French earlier. We played a very close game and seemed to give away more turn over’s with the second line up. We lost the game by a close margin but everyone played their best and players had the opportunity for court time so was great for player development.
Going into the second game the team made some simple tactical improvements, which made some difference in the way we played together. Despite the changes we lost the second game by a close margin but improvements were already noticeable and everyone got good court time.
We then played our cross over game which we won and it was obvious that the team improved more and more with each game, we were all extremely happy to win and team spirit was high. So we were now in the 13th/14th place final in the morning against the Roll-Mops. We were now a much stronger team than we had been at the beginning of the tournament. Cool headed and confident we began to force the opposition to make errors and the score line was in our favour. By the last quarter we had a comfortable lead. The team held their own and we finished in 13th Place. It was a great game and an excellent final victory for the Warriors.
Overall It was very positive weekend for the Warriors. Players on both teams have shown huge improvement over the past 6 months and coming home with a trophy from the Professional League is testament to that. We will definitely be aiming for the final next year in the Professional League and hopefully working our way up the rankings in the Advanced League as there is no doubt we are developing the players we need to make it that far.