Bury Kings beat Southampton Stags to win the Tchoukball UK Super Cup to complete a domestic quadruple. The side picked up the play-off final trophy to add to their Super League, Regional and Domini Fox Cup titles. Hampered by injuries and absences the side managed to grind out wins in their semi-final and final to be named champions, coming from behind against their southern opponents.
Despite winning all twelve of their Super League fixtures the side were pushed to the limit against Leeds Galaxy, who took a number of turnovers against Bury’s attack. The game was played at a frantic pace, with both sides making a high number of uncharacteristic errors. In the end Bury won 62-51, a score line that flattered the eastern side. In the other semi-final Guildford Inferno and Southampton Stags played out another close match. From the off Stuart Blakemore and Paul Flemington’s shooting was causing Guildford real problems, with the side building an 11-point lead over their southern rivals. As the match progressed Guildford got to grips with the Stags’ offence, turning the ball over and forcing them into a series of mistakes, reducing the margin to a single point. For once though the Guildford comeback was left too late and Southampton progressed 55-52. Leeds and Guildford played out another tight fixture in the third-place playoff, Leeds defence doing enough to take the victory, winning 56-50.
In the final Southampton began in stunning fashion, putting real pressure on the Bury attack, while its own offence was at its fluent best. Going into the break at the end of the first third Southampton led 16-12. An injury to Martin Cates forced Bury into a tactical change, with right shooter Cates moving to defence and Ian Parker swapping positions into attack. The enforced switch completely changed the face of the game with Cates taking numerous catches. The Kings may not have matched the flair of the Stags players but they had cut out the mistakes from the Leeds game and were capitalising on their opponents’ errors, going into the break leading 33-31. The final third was a demonstration of top class shooting by Bury’s Ben Wallace as his side repeatedly looked to him to keep the score ticking over. By now Bury had finally taken the upper hand, seeing off the match to win 52-46. “In my three years at the club this was the hardest title win,” said Bury head coach Ian Parker. “All respect to Southampton we were second best for large periods but we kept at it and never believed we wouldn’t come back. “We have so many talented players that even when one or two are not performing there is always somebody else to take on the responsibility. Luckily for us this time it was Ben. “He was superb. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player completely dominate a match quite like it.” The cup final ended the UK domestic season. As national league champions Bury took the first slot for the European Winners’ Cup with Southampton taking the other position for after finishing runners-up in the Super Cup.
Pete King, Head of Competitions was delighted with the quality of play in the final:
“Bury have been dominant for a long time now, but Southampton Stags pushed them to the limit this time. It’s good to see the very highest level being more competitive and I can’t wait to see the top league in action next season.