By Nick Blake
In a Palatinate Derby, Durham’s first team secured a comprehensive victory over the University’s second string with a 12-5 win. Despite currently sitting bottom of Northern League 2B, Durham’s second team had gone into this fixture with renewed confidence after securing their first win of the season in their previous match against Sheffield. They were, however, up against an in form first team, who were coming into the match on the back of an impressive 9-8 win against Leeds Beckett University in their previous match. The first team now sit in joint second position of the Northern League 2B, behind an unbeaten Newcastle team.
The first team fielded a full strength team, front-lined by their captain Florian Peters who had only lost once all season. Peters was supplemented by Tristan Bauchet, Christopher Yiu and Franco Cheu. This formidable team was taking on a second team that had struggled all season, but were able to call upon the Hiroya Takeuchi, making a welcome return, to assist regulars Nick Blake, Marcus Lam and Tommaso Bernabô.
The game started evenly with Takeuchi defeating both Cheu and Yiu of the first team but was levelled after Florian dispatched Blake and Bernabô. A few close matches followed, notably two five setters between Lam and Yiu and Blake and Bauchet. On both occasions, the senior first team player narrowly got the better of their younger second team rival.
At the halfway stage, the scores were still relatively close with Durham’s top side leading 5-3. However in the second half, the first team moved through the gears, racing into an 11-5 lead, with only wins from Takeuchi and Lam against Bauchet as the league’s bottom side fought on in vain.
Despite the scoreline, therewere still some highly competitive matches, including an excellent duel between Takeuchi and Peters (who had both won all their other games on the day). After an even start, the first team captain was able to impose himself and ultimately prevail 3-1 in sets. He and Bauchet partnered up to put the icing on the cake with a doubles win against the impressive Takeuchi and Lam to leave the final score at 12-5.
This was a slight improvement on the 13-4 defeat suffered earlier in the season against the same opponent. Credit must be given to Takeuchi for securing three brilliant wins against first team opposition.
With the season entering its crunch period, the first team must look to continue their strong form as they look to achieve promotion, while the second team will have to improve to avoid relegation.
Photograph: Team Durham