After a day of watching world class sport, a raucous crowd descended on a wind-swept Coach Lane to spectate a 12-7 victory for the mighty Pies against the underdogs, Northumbria.
Having won 10-7 in the league earlier this season, Newcastle were confident going into the fixture. However, with such a prominent upwind-downwind divide, the first upwind point was always going to be crucial, effectively being as important as a ‘break’ in tennis.
The Pies pulled first, launching the disc upwind. However, it wasn’t long before Northumbria took the lead. Jack Bell used the wind brilliantly to perfectly flight the disc over the head of Newcastle’s Alex Thompson into the Pies’ endzone.
Nevertheless, with the wind on their side, Newcastle quickly took control. Pies handler Chris de Leeuwe started to find his range after his attempted passes to George Perry and Sid Pincent fell slightly array. But after Nathan Rudge intercepted a Northumbria pass, it was de Leeuwe that picked out Perry in the endzone to draw level.
During the next point, Newcastle threatened to get that decisive upwind point. A 15-pass move slowly moved the Pies up-field, but the final pass from Perry was cut out. Northumbria playmaker Bell quickly launched the disc towards the Newcastle endzone, but Pies skipper Ivan Mladjenovic decisively cut it out.
In the following play, Bell overthrew a pass, but at the next opportunity lofted one over Mladjenovic to find his teammate in the endzone. Yet again, going with the wind, de Leeuwe was the architect of Newcastle’s attack, this time finding Mladjenovic behind the Northumbria defence.
After Northumbria scored another with a Bell long-throw, Newcastle again hit back. Following, a Tom Allan interception, de Leeuwe and Mladjenovic worked the disc well before Thompson picked out Tom Allan to make the score 3-3.
Cries of ‘catch your Ds’ from the vocal Sam Griffiths on the sideline kicked Newcastle into action
Finally, Newcastle’s short passing game paid off going upwind. After superbly cutting out one of Bell’s long-range passes, de Leeuwe, Jake Hawkyard, Thompson and Mladjenovic traded passes before de Leeuwe precisely found George Perry in the Northumbrian endzone. Newcastle took the lead for the first time in the match, and more importantly, they had scored an upwind point.
Newcastle, having gained confidence, capitalised on their next point. Jake Hawkyard’s “inspired forward roll” into the endzone from de Leeuwe’s 50-yard throw was a dramatic, but fitting way to extend their lead to two for the first time in the game.
Taking advantage of the downwind, Bell took the opportunity to send more passes into the endzone from halfway. However, his first two attempts were cut out by Thompson, and under the pressure of Alex Monaghan, his third effort at releasing the disc ended in a handling error.
Mladjenovic cut out Bell’s next killer pass, and then a double-team effort from Oli Wall and Brad Metcalfe ensured that the score remained the same. After subsequent efforts were disallowed and over-thrown, finally Bell found a gap about one foot above Hawkyard’s head.
After the longest point in the history of Stan Calvert, Newcastle responded in 48 seconds, with de Leeuwe finding Sid Pincent for his first point of the match. Though Bell’s hammer was cut out by Mladjenovic, he found a lad in some tights in the endzone shortly after.
Newcastle’s response was again impressive. Jake Hawkyard once again latching onto an incredible long throw, this time from Pies captain Ivan Mladjenovic, from no less than 60 yards.
Northumbria scored again, but unsurprisingly it was Newcastle who reached the score cap for the half. Bell continued to try to throw long upwind, which worked massively in Newcastle’s favour, as playmaker Chris de Leeuwe spotted an impressive Brad Metcalfe run in behind the Northumbria rear-guard.
10 out of 12 points assisted by Chris De Leeuwe
Going into the second half, Newcastle aimed to work more on turning the opposition in their own endzone, and noted that the wind was dying down. Whether it was to do with that or something else, Newcastle were right on it from the pull, as the eagle-eyed Chris de Leeuwe swung the disc out to Nathan Rudge in the endzone.
If Newcastle’s attack seemed good, their defence was potentially even better. After Ivan Mladjenovic deflected one disc over the fence and into a tree, Perry, Thompson and Pincent all showed their class when the opposition had the disc.
Bell finally set up another point, as Thompson flapped at the incoming disc. Cries of “catch your Ds” from the vocal Sam Griffiths on the sideline kicked Newcastle into action, as Mladjenovic and Perry latched on to two delightful de Leeuwe passes to put the Pies in sight of the soft cap.
Thompson atoned for his earlier error by ending the game with a relatively simple catch from yet another inch-perfect pass from playmaker de Leeuwe; a trend that had been consistent throughout.
It was this level of quality and tactical nous that Northumbria were missing on the day, exemplified by their use of a stack to defend against arrowhead. However, it’s a big improvement for Northumbria, considering their 15-4 loss last year.
Whilst Northumbria may be able to take the plaudits for the overall result, these Frisbee maestros have once again proved that they’re the dominant force on Newcastle soil. They’ll now turn their attention to the cup, and now that they’re promoted, will want to recruit well for their battle to stay in the top flight next season.
MVP: Chris de Leeuwe