Bury Kings defeated Leeds Galaxy to secure their third national championship in a row. Coming in as favourites the experienced side dominated to add the championship trophy to the division one title they had already secured. The championship was made up of the division’s top four sides with Southampton Stags and Portsmouth Ducks joining Bury and Leeds in the semi-finals. In the first semi Bury took on Portsmouth in a match dominated by the defenders.
Both sides were impressive in both front and second line defence as players struggled to find the gaps to score. Once the powerful shooting pair of Richard Jackson and Jack Buck began to force holes in the Portsmouth defence the Kings did start to pull away, eventually winning 58-45. In the other semi-final a Southampton side hit by injuries and absentees fought valiantly against an ever-improving Leeds team. Southampton led for large periods but in the end Leeds overall quality came through as they finished 48-44 victors.
Before the final it was left for local rivals Portsmouth and Southampton to contest the third place play-off. The game was tense affair, each side matching the other point for point, Southampton securing victory in the final few minutes to win 46-44.
The final started in dramatic fashion, both Leeds and Bury shooting hard and fast, Mike O’Donnell for Leeds in particular finding gaps in the Bury defence. Bury build their success upon executing simple but effective game plans and their efficient play soon worked as any mistake by Leeds was ruthlessly exploited. By the end of the first third Bury had built up an 11-point lead which was furthered by another eight points in the second period after shutting up shop defensively.
Leeds performance in the final third, when in reality the match had already passed them by, will leave them thinking what might have been as they matched their opponents, only losing by a single point. In the end it was a 20 point loss, losing 72-52, but after improving on the final standings year on year for the past four seasons Leeds must feel that next season could be the year they end up on top. Bury meanwhile can end the season with a 100 per cent win ratio and another set of silverware for the trophy cabinet.
Bury captain Ian Parker said: “We’ve had some injuries recently and we were a bit worried as we were so desperate to keep that unbeaten record.
"It’s a great achievement and we know it’s unlikely to happen again so we are thrilled to manage it. Credit to Leeds, if they play like they did in the last 15 minutes throughout next season they will be tough to beat."
Head of Competitions Pete King was delighted with the play on finals day.
"This season's format with 2 divisions has meant the closing fixtures have produced some real classics. There is genuine competition in tchoukball now with no easy games. I'm delighted to see that our teams are taking these fixtures to the wire with some truly thrilling matches!"