Mark of success part IV: Ponteland problems and Pep

If you think this is exciting just wait until the Canoe Polo Championships

Mark Sleightholm
12th April 2018
Ponteland, earlier. Image: Wikimedia Commons

High drama in the Champions League this week, but some absolute scenes in the Bay Plastics Premier Division. Of the Northern Football Alliance, that is.

Halfway between Man City's tense quarter final, and just hours before they had the chance to lift the Premier League trophy at home against United, Newcastle University's own men's first team faced their big moment. At home against Ponteland United, a side five positions and 17 points below them in the league, Newcastle were unusually quiet on the pitch and found themselves unable to find the Ponteland goal. Their guests, meanwhile, snuck one in to end Newcastle's 13-match unbeaten run in all NFA competitions and give them only their second league defeat of the season.

Four days later, however, and it was already time for the reverse fixture. Such is the nature of the Bay Plastics Premier Division.

Out at Ponteland Leisure Centre – that's farther than the Metro will take you – Newcastle rediscovered their magic in a way that must have made Guardiola weep if, as I'm sure he does, he follows the Bay Plastics Premier Division closely. Unlike his own team the Newcastle University firsts were able to thrash their nemeses to the tune of 2-0. Newcastle remained at the top of the table throughout the debacle, but they are still only four points clear, if that makes Guardiola feel any better.

Farther south, local swimmer Emily Large has been exciting swimming fans at the Commonwealth Games. The 17 year old uses Newcastle University's Sports Centre for her strength and conditioning training, and after coming third in her 200m butterfly heat on the Gold Coast she swam her way to 7th in the final, just pulling ahead of another young English swimmer, Laura Stephens in the final 10m. Alys Thomas of Wales was visibly shocked to take the gold with a stunning time of 2:05:45, almost two seconds ahead of Australia's Laura Taylor in second place. Thomas, Stephens and Large, together with fourth-placed Charlotte Atkinson from the Isle of Man, offer some bright lights for the future of British swimming.

Back in the world of student sport, and things are hotting up for the Cycling Club, who took to the streets of Bottisham in Cambridgeshire on Saturday for the BUCS 10 Mile Time Trial Championships. Standout performances from Newcastle's riders included Tom Hutchinson, who came 18th in the men's race and was just 87 seconds behind the winner, while Fiona McDonald, Isabella Ash and Florence Shekleton put in good times in the women's rankings. With more time trials, mountain biking and the big BUCS road race all coming up, it'll be a busy few weeks for the cyclists.

[pullquote]An exhausted Newcastle were pushed into a final round of races to fight for the remaining places[/pullquote]

After an underwhelming BUCS sailing season Newcastle managed to turn things around in the final competition, the Match Racing down in Dorset. No less than 18 of the country's finest student sailing teams took part in a complex array of head-to-head races last weekend.

In the initial group stage, Newcastle's three-man team of skipper Ben Swyer, Tom Clayton and George Haynes, came third in their group, not enough to qualify automatically. Instead they returned to the water on Sunday to take part in a repechage, where four wins out of five saw them storm through to the quarter finals.

Here they found themselves up against Bath in a best-of-three battle. Bath won the first race on Sunday evening, giving them the momentum going into the final day of competition. A second victory followed to knock Newcastle out and propel Bath past Loughborough in the semis and into the final. Here they were finally defeated in a closely fought race by Southampton, while an exhausted Newcastle were pushed into a final round of races to fight for the remaining places, coming eighth overall.

Things to look forward to this weekend? If you'd like a break from the Commonwealth Games, Grand National and Premier League, keep an eye on the BUCS Canoe Polo Championship in Nottingham, news of which we shall bring you next week. Newcastle are sending men's, women's and a B team to compete.

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