Coming off the back of last month’s triumph at DED Warmup, Ka-Pow! travelled to Chippenham to test themselves against some of the best British ultimate had to offer. Due to a number of factors including injuries, Tom’s Tourney, GB beach training and transport malfunctions Ka-Pow! had a small squad of 11 on the Saturday of Fog Lane, which was further reduced to 8 on the Sunday.
Ka-Pow! 8-9 Fire 2
Fire had split their squad into two relatively evenly matched teams, meaning Fire 2 had a few extra numbers compared to us as well as a greater range of experience on the field, both of these would prove to be critical to the outcome of what would be a very tight game. We knew going into this if we could run our offensive systems well and build pressure on defence then we’d have a great shot at winning; we did both quite well initially. We broke the force, generating and executing hucking opportunities frequently, whilst getting multiple turns on D. Fire then made a few shrewd adjustments to stifle our offense; with our play tending to drift towards the downwind sideline, however our (soon to be not-so-) secret weapon Will Martin busted out multiple huge upwind flick hucks to keep the game on serve. Our smaller squad size began to show shortly before half with some tired decisions costing us the best chance either side had had to break up to that point. After trading up-wind points to 7-7 Fire finally scored the downwinder shortly after the buzzer to make it a game to 9. After scoring the offence point to set up sudden death and getting the turn we gave Fire the disc back in our red zone, which they cordially punched in for the win. A disappointing way to lose but the game was one that gave us plenty of points to work on for the weekend.
Ka-Pow! 5-10 Chevron
With GB U23 in attendance Chevron had a somewhat depleted squad with numbers only slightly greater than ours. However their team was one largely made up of the mainstays that have helped to put them at the top of the British and European game in recent years. We were keen to show what we had and how far we had come since our tight quarterfinal defeat at their hands at nationals last year. With the wind having picked up a little both teams played a fair bit of zone. Chevron moved the disc quickly and aggressively against our zones, exposing errors in positioning whenever possible. The zones did however largely succeed in achieving what they were designed to do and did garner their fair share of turns. For the points which we did run man defence we brought a good level of intensity with Smatt and Sam getting some big layout blocks. On offense we couldn’t match Chevron’s speed in moving the disc, struggling to dictate how and where we wanted to play, with their zone causing us particular trouble. In general Chevron proved to be more clinical after getting turns, dealing with the conditions better, they ran out comfortable and deserved winners.
Ka-Pow! 10-6 LLLeeds
We weren’t sure what to expect from Leeds going into this one having heard that they had lost a contingent of last year’s players to Manchester. They brought a sizeable squad with a few familiar faces. We raced to a 6-2 lead, with one of our zone looks causing them particular trouble. We had been aiming to start our offense quickly after getting a turn, but a combination of tired legs and heads meant we slow started more often than not. From there the game became a bit scrappy with multiple turns from each team per point, with the two of us effectively trading it out until the end. We were happy with the win and elements of the performance but it was evident there was much to work to be done on Sunday.
Ka-Pow! 13-9 Devon
Coming into the game on Sunday morning Devon had a squad almost as small as ours, missing several of their star players. We aimed to frustrate their organic play with some zones, and to isolate our cutters more effectively than we had done previously. We started very well, with our zone looks dictating the pace and style of their offense as planned, punching in the consequent turns reasonably clinically with some nice quick start play. Tiredness then began to show, with Devon beating us long a few times whilst we became less clinical after getting turns. The complementary cuts that had allowed us to gain large amounts of ground and move the disc up the field rapidly earlier in the game had dried up, whilst we were a bit too keen to get involved in the play, which stopped us from isolating the cuts we wanted. After taking the half we refocused, getting a few extra breaks to go on a bit of a run and then trading out to take the win. Not a resounding victory but enough to put us 3rd in the pool and give us a semi with a revamped Manchester team.
Ka-Pow! 9-11 Manchester
Manchester had more than twice as many players as us, we knew we had to box clever here, trying to conserve energy with some different offensive and defensive looks. This was tight throughout with the game effectively going to serve until the end. Manchester looked to set up hucking opportunities wherever they could, and made several great plays for scores. We had some big plays ourselves with Tim getting huge on multiple occasions and Kyle being a massive muskrat whenever possible. Our aim from the previous game of better isolating cutters began to be realised with us scoring with ease at times, while our defensive looks got us plenty of turns. However we didn’t quite have the consistency on offence required to ride the game out, with Manchester breaking us twice to seal their win. While this was another loss in a game that we would have won with a touch more consistency, large improvements in playing the way we want to play had certainly been made.
Ka-Pow! 8-10 Chevron
With GB U23s playing impressively to win out over Chevron in their semi, our final was to be a rematch against Chevron. It would be a game that would turn out to be our best of the day, if not the weekend. We continued to with our zone looks whilst mixing in a fair bit of man and some transitions too. We had tightened up our zone positioning a good deal and although Chevron moved the disc more effectively against our zones than any other team we had played we were getting more turns than in our first match. Perhaps more importantly we were finally looking a bit more dangerous from the kind of situations where previously we had looked impotent, isolating cutters nicely and hitting them in stride for several quick goals. It would prove to be a significantly tighter game than our first encounter; we matched Chevron all the way, with only a couple of breaks towards the end of the game swinging it in their favour.
Just as with the tournament itself, although disappointing in terms of final result(s), the game was a great one for us. We had started to play how we want to play, made progress in becoming the team we want to be and identified areas which we will need to work on the in order to fully achieve the goals we have set ourselves.
Written from a sideline perspective by – Seb Shapland