After strong performances by both UEA 1s and UEA 2s at the preliminary round of Bucs in Norwich in late 2015, the UEA Korfballers headed to Canterbury on 30th January to compete against teams from Kent, Cambridge, Bedford, De Montfordt and Essex for places in the Bucs Nationals in early spring. Unfortunately, due to the rules regarding progression to the final round of the competition, UEA 2s could not qualify for a place in the top tier. However, a strong performance would result in a higher seeding for them in the Trophy Competition.
The eight competing teams (UEA 1s and 2s, Kent 1s, Cambridge 1s and 2s, Bedford 1s, De Montfordt 1s and Essex 1s) started the day in two pools of four with UEA 1s competing against Cambridge 2s, Kent 1s and Bedford 1s. After each team had played against the three other teams in their pool, the two top teams moved on to compete in semi-finals, leaving the others to compete for 5th to 8th place.
UEA 1s finished top of Group A, comfortably beating Cambridge 2s (17:2), Kent 1s (13:0) and Bedford 1s (11:4). UEA 2s were competing for a place in the semi-final against three first teams (Cambridge 1s, De Montfordt 1s and Essex 1s). After initially beating De Montfordt (11:6), drawing against Essex (2:2) and losing against Cambridge (16:2), UEA 2s place in the semi-finals was ultimately decided in the match-up between Essex and De Montfordt. A win for Essex by a margin greater than 5 would see UEA 2s knocked out. After the final whistle, the score line read Essex 8, De Montfordt 3. UEA 2s went through on goal difference. UEA 1s finishing top of Group A and UEA 2s finishing second in Group B meant the two teams would face each other in the semi-final, an interesting pairing indeed, not just because the two teams train together every week, but also as the UEA 2s coaches play for UEA 1s. After an interesting match, in which both teams demonstrated impressive skills both in attack and defence, 1s progressed to the final, leaving 2s to compete for third place.
UEA 2s went on to face Bedford, who had finished in second at the regional stage the year before. A closely fought match ended with Bedford snatching the win. The final score was 6:7.
After one of UEA 1s boys, Salman Saleh, sustained an ankle injury earlier in the day, a weakened UEA 1s faced Cambridge 1s in the final. Clearly showing signs of fatigue, UEA 1s were unable to secure the top spot after a strong performance by Cambridge. The final score was 12:6 in favour of Cambridge.
The results meant that Cambridge 1s, UEA 1s, Bedford 1s and Kent 1s move on to compete at Nationals and UEA 2s move on as highest seed to the National Trophy Competition, along with Essex 1s, De Montfordt and Cambridge 2s.
Overall, both UEA 1s and especially UEA 2s can be proud of their achievements in Canterbury. The squads of both teams are both relatively young, with less than half of the UEA 1s team that finished second at Nationals in 2015 returning to the team this year. Indeed it was virtually a brand new UEA 2 team, consisting to a large part of players who hadnít ever played Korfball before last September, definitely a team to watch at the Trophy Competition.
UEA 1s Bayley Wooldridge was voted female Most Valued Players. Both teams have just over a month to prepare for the next stage of the Bucs competition and both are hoping to return with silver wear, an ambitious but realistic target.