It was a good weekend for the two MSC team playing in B Grade at Diamond 2. Both teams finished inside the top 6. For the Rebels this was a huge step up from Diamond 1. The Royals improved their standing from Diamond 1 by 1 place with a 3rd place finish.
The Competition Begins
The Rebels failed to win a group game at Diamond 1 and faced a tough opening game against the Oxford Angels. In a hard fought game, the Rebels came out 11-10 winners to record their first win at this level and get off the the perfect start on a day that would see them play 6 games. The Royals started the day against The Mob. Neither team had played each other in the first event, so this was the first encounter of the season for both. Like the Rebels this one went down to the wire with the Royals coming out winners 8-7.
So, with winning starts for both teams confidence was high for the next games. Both teams faces opposition they had meet in Diamond 1, Rebels face Bristol Monkeys whom they faced in the knockout phase and had beaten. Royals faced Pyros, whom they meet in group play and had narrowly lost to. History repeated itself. The Rebels won easily the Royals again lost by 1. The Rebels were enjoying an excellent run and would extend that run as they faced and beat TV Typhoons.
Long Afternoon For the Rebels
With a record of 3-0, the Rebels now faced the hardest part of their day, The odd schedule meant they would play 3 games in a row. After that, their worst result of the day would be eliminated. Three games in the heat of Saturday afternoon was a lot, and while they came close against Ducky Fuzz but the winning streak came to an end here. Next up the London Raiders, who were too strong in the batting line up for the Rebels. This was their biggest defeat of the day and would be the result that would be discarded. Going into the last game against Dodgers East the Rebels were are 3-2. But this was a game to far and a third lose did take a little shine off the day. However, with an overall record of 3-2 this was a vast improvement over Diamond 1 and was good enough to qualify for the Cup competition on Sunday.
The Top four all meet.
The Royals afternoon was equally as tough as the Rebels, but in relation to opponents rather than game timing. The Top 4 from Diamond 1 were, Pav’s Knicks, Misfits, Spitting Camels and Royals. All four were in the same group and the Royals had to face al three starting with the Misfits. The Royals had played the Misfits twice in NSL 2 and once at BA last season and managed only 1 win. This was the first encounter this season and the Royals came out on top to improve to 2-1 on the day. Next up came Pav’s Knicks for the 4th time this year, The were Royals leading the overall series 2-1, but had yet to beat the Knicks at Diamond event. That was soon put right and whereas the Semi-final at Diamond 1 was a disappointing performance from the Royals, this was more like the norm. Good defence and excellent offense saw the Royals over the line and improve to 3-1 on the day. With a top 3 finish in the group just need to qualify for the cup, the Royals were in strong position with one game to go. Diamond 1 had started with a lose to Spitting Camels, unfortunately Saturday at Diamond 2 ended the same way. The Camels again proved too strong offensively and left the Royals 3-2. That was good enough to make the top 3 and a place in the Sunday Cup competition along with the Rebels.
The Top 3 teams in the two groups from Saturday formed a new group for the Cup competition on the Sunday. Teams in this new group played a cross over schedule against the teams from the opposite group to the one they were in on Saturday. This meant the Royals and the Rebels would meet in a Tournament at B Grade for the first time. With only the top two in the Cup group making the final and only 3 games it was critical to get a good start. As you would expect when two club teams meet, there was banter, nerves and some great plays. On this occasion it was the Royals who came out on top 8-5. It made the Rebels chances of a final spot extremely slim. That didn’t stop them putting it all into their remaining two games. They would face the No. 1 team and No. 3 team from Diamond 1 in Pav’s Knicks and Spitting Camels. Unfortunately neither game went in the Rebels favour and they would end the day bottom of the cup group. While that sounds a poor result, to come 6th from 16th in Diamond 1 is a huge improvement and tribute to how the team adapted to the higher level they are playing at this year.
So close for the Royals
After victory in the derby match, the Royals were in a good position to to make the finals, next for them where the winners of the other group from Saturday, the London Raiders. This was a different encounter for the Raiders compared to their match against the Rebels the previous day. In the end, 1 run in the last inning settled it in the Raiders favour. The result dented the Royals chances, but with one game to go and the other teams at the top all playing each other it was getting tight. Last up for the Royals were Ducky Fuzz. The two had clashed in the quarter final at Diamond 1. The Royals won that encounter by some distance. This time around it was a much closer affair. Having already been in 3 games settled by fewer than 3 runs, it wasn’t a surprise that this one went the same way. The Royals edging the game by two.
The long wait
With both teams having finished their programs the wait was on. Rebels lost all 3 games and were out. The Royals had a chance thanks to their defence on the Sunday. With one more round of games, The Royals were hoping the London Raiders could beat the Knicks or at least score 11 runs. In the end neither result happened and the Royals were left 3rd missing out on the final by a couple of runs.
A 3rd place finish was an improvement on Diamond 1’s 4th place and there were lots of positives from the weekend. Pav’s Knicks went on to win the Cup and are in pole position for the series. For the Royals to win the series now, they will have to win Diamond 3 and hope Pav’s fail to make the top bracket. Regardless of whether that happens, this has been a fantastic Diamond series and sitting in the top 3 and a chance of a runners-up spot is the result performance at B grade by the team. it will be a long wait till Diamond 3 at the end of July.