Guildford Tchoukball Club’s two sides finished unbeaten for the 2016/2017 season, winning both the Super League and Division One titles, the first time a club has won both divisions of the Tchoukball UK National League.
In their final two rounds Inferno, the club’s first team, defeated both Bury Kings, the 2016 Super League champions, and Fareham Rhinos to end with 12 straight victories and 48 points.
Bury Kings came second on 42 points with three defeats, two points ahead ahead of Fareham in third, this after the Hampshire-based side finished bottom of the division in 2016.
Sitting out round five, Guildford entered round six knowing a win against Bury Kings would all but guarantee league success. A solid performance and some intelligent tactical changes midway through the game saw Guildford build a strong lead, eventually winning 65-54.
Guildford had earlier seen off Headingley Outlaws 72-24 and they ended the season with their 100 per cent win record intact, beating a much-improved Portsmouth Drakes 60-50, and Fareham Rhinos 59-51.
Guildford club chairman Rob Ellis said: “I couldn’t be prouder of the club this year. Both teams worked very hard and this was shown throughout the season with both of their undefeated streaks in the National League Super League and Division 1. Never has it been truer to say that there was no I in team.”
It looked as though Fareham would finish in second after a strong performance saw them beat Bury Kings 68-59 in round 5, but another shock result then saw Fareham lose to Leeds Galaxy 52-56.
Bury’s other final fixtures saw them beat Bury Saints 72-40 and Portsmouth Drakes 75-53 while Rhinos also won their other fixtures, beating Bury Saints 75-49, Headingley Outlaws 72-42 and Drakes 63-52.
Galaxy came fourth for the second season straight, finishing on 37 points. The side played in the game of the season in round six, defeating Portsmouth Drakes with the very final shot of the day.
With just minutes to go Leeds were three points behind and levelled with only seconds left. Portsmouth, with the chance to win, put in a short in the final action of the match, handing the victory to Leeds, an enthralling finale to an entertaining match in Bedford.
Leeds also beat Bury Saints 64-32 and Headingley Outlaws 68-27 in the final two rounds.
Drakes showed great improvement towards the end of the season and did pick up a win against Bury Saints, 62-43, to finish on 30 points.
It was a disappointing end of the year for both Saints and Headingley in the final two rounds, with Headingley failing to pick up a win all season.
In Division One Ignite completed their own perfect season with a brace of wins over Portsmouth Uni Pythons, and victory over Leeds Cosmos, to also finish on 48 points.
The club’s head coach Mack Hofberg Said: “Ignite, having finished last place at finals last year, were understandably low. But the determination to spring back and improve was not something I could coach, it is something in each of my players I admire.
“A lot of the hard work happened off court in training and I’m very proud to say I think it’s paid off. We look forward to next season when they’ll potentially compete for the first time in the Super League.”
Bury Wolves finished in second place. The side, mainly made up of players under 18, came back to defeat Leeds Cosmos in round 6 to ensure second, jumping two places from the previous season, ending on 43 points.
They also defeated Southampton Stags 62-42, ending up with six straight victories.
Portsmouth Uni Pythons also improved their final standing on the previous year. Despite just two wins against Southampton Stags in their last six games, the side’s impressive start to the season meant they retained third position on 38 points, their best league position for five years.
Leeds Cosmos were three points further back in fourth, their heavy loss to Pythons and a draw against Stags earlier in the season proving pivotal.
Leeds did defeat Stags in round five, ending up five points ahead of the south-coast side.
In their first season in the national league Portsmouth Uni Pingus finished sixth with one win, ending on 12 points.
They finished above Portsmouth Ducks, who forfeited a number of games.
Tchoukball UK Operations Director Richard Jackson described the season as one of the most interesting he had witnessed, with Bury being overthrown as champions by Guildford and new challengers in the form of Fareham Rhinos.
“It was a great season full of top performances from players across both divisions and last second drama right up until the final games,” said Mr Jackson.
“Hopefully the National League can continue to go from strength to strength both in terms of playing quality and the diversity of teams taking part.”