Exeter Spring League runs from 3rd to 31st May | Tuesdays 6:30pm | Flowerpots Playing Fields
After the success of last year's Exeter Spring League, the guys and girls of Devon, AirBadgers, Uriel, Second Wind and Shake once again descended upon Flowerpots for the first session of this year's series. With the teams freshly mixed up, Appelsina, The Runs, Panthers and Deep Purple became Orange is the New Block, Skidmarks, Pink on the Inside and Purple Rain (tentatively, anyway).
The first pair of matches saw Browns take on Pinks. While Oranges and Purples duked it out. On pitch 1, Browns stormed out of the blocks and hacked through Pink defences using long shots and hard undercuts. As the Pinks settled into the match and began to put more pressure on Brown's O, the scoreline narrowed slightly. However, with Browns having worked up a decent lead they closed the game out 9-5.
On the other pitch, Oranges took on Purple where the two teams hammered the game out and refused to let up - even continuing to play once the hooter had sounded. While I didn't see the match due to playing on the other pitch, I understand that it was pretty hard-fought and the two teams walked away with a deserved draw under their belts.
The next games saw Browns vs Oranges on pitch 1 while Pinks went up against Purples on pitch 2. Again, I can't say much about the pitch 2 match but I understand that Pink went out strong and took Purple down. On Pitch 1, Oranges scored first but Brown took an early lead with some more long shots and opted to try out a zone to catch opponents out early on. However, Oranges managed to handle their way around a few times and score. Still, when Browns' junk was working well, their aim of linetrapping the disc worked and forced the desired turn. Towards the end of the match, Oranges managed to slot in an O and convert a turn before the hooter went at 5-4. Keeping the scoreline, we played the point for fun anyway and Oranges scored it.
At the end of the first session, Browns topped the table with a pair of wins under their belt. While the team doesn't have any standout superstars, it's again a consistent lineup with able players that work well together. It helped that they had a number of players left over from last year's 'The Runs' to have that little shred of cohesion. The team's handler/cutter divide worked well for week 1 which saw the (pretty competent) handlers backing their receivers on some hefty long options. When that wasn't on, cutters cut hard and got free. Fairly simple tactics that will most likely have to be tweaked as the league goes on.
Oranges are looking strong this time around but will undoubtedly suffer the last minute drop out of Dan 'Dino' Friedeberg. Still, the team has some seasoned handlers as well as some eager fresh handlers. Orange also boast some strong women and some superb receivers. In fact, some of their shots against Browns would have been turnovers were it not for Jamie Hammond picking up every loose disc within 40m of him. With play like that bolstering the team's confidence, I'll expect them to be pushing for the top of the table by the end of the competition - even without Dino. They currently sit at joint 3rd with Purples after both teams secured a draw and a loss.
Pinks were looking very solid throughout yesterday's matches and currently stand in second place on the leaderboard after securing a win in their second match. We're seeing a ton of communication from Cowboy as he uses his GB coaching mouth to place his teammates around the field while Canadian megastar Helen refuses to let up with her cuts, providing a million options. With Socks showing fast cutting as well, it's a good lineup that should do well. Browns were possibly lucky to catch in their first game before Pinks realised what they could do.
As for Purples, I didn't catch any of their matches but they are looking seasoned with a ton of experience on their roster. With Josh Kyme taking on VC duties, you'll expect them to do well as the weeks go on.
At the moment, it's really anybody's guess as to who will come out on top. With the teams far more even that last year, it's likely to be a closer and more contested affair this time around.