Backhanders claim title

Star Paving Services North Norfolk Table Tennis League

AN extraordinary climax to the league has seen issues at the top and bottom of both divisions not settled until the very last round of matches.

In the second division, Beta went into their final match of the season against Goblins 10 points ahead of Backhanders.

But with Backhanders having a game in hand, the Beta team of Matt Robinson, Simon Halliday and Philip Stone knew they had to set a good target to be caught as they hosted the Goblins' line-up of Peter Ward, Derek Sidaway and John Miller.

Stone won the opener in five against Ward as Beta opened up a 3-0 lead in the match. Ward then saved match-point to defeat Robinson 12-10 in the fifth before Miller beat Stone in four.

Halliday and Sidaway shared the first two sets, before Halliday blew five set-points at 10-5 in the third. Sidaway took that set 13-11 and raced through the fourth to tie the match at 3-3.

And that became 4-4 as Robinson and Ward had straight-set wins over Miller and Halliday respectively. Stone won the final singles from a set down against Sidaway and teamed up with Robinson for a close five-set doubles win over Ward and Miller to seal the match 6-4.

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On the same night, Backhander's Teucer Wilson, Rod Goffin and Murray Shanahan hosted Poachers' Barry Evans, Andy Woods and Jon Cheyette.

Woods defeated Shanahan 15-17, 11-6, 11-6, 11-7 while Evans defeated the Backhander in three and won the last seven points from 4-8 down in the decider to edge out Goffin

The Backhander won 16 points on the trot from 2-6 in the first to 7-0 in the second against Cheyette, the Poacher losing each of his singles in four sets. A maximum from Wilson helped Backhanders to a tight 7-3 win.

And that meant Backhanders needed to win their match against Goblins' Miller, Sidaway and Simeon Care 8-2 or better to win the division (a 7-3 win would have meant the extraordinary prospect of a play-off match with Beta).

Shanahan beat Miller in five,otherwise it was all straight-set affairs as Backhanders cruised to a 10-0 match win to win the division by three points.

The first division will be resolved next week as Specials only need to win their match against bottom-placed Pirates to win the division.

Pirates were already relegated, while this week's matches determined who would join them.

The result of Outlaws' 6-4 win against Alpha effectively putg both teams safe with Outlaw's 9-1 win against Pirates sealing third place for them.

Against Alpha, Jamie Craig, Colin Humphries and Steve Patterson each took braces, Elliott won a brace for Alpha but lost to Craig in three, with Mary Sawyer beating Craig 12-10 in the fifth. Humphries defeated Dave Johns 12-10 in the fifth.

And that meant the relegation issue would come down to the match between Sharks' Peter Betts, Phil Baker and Keith Register and Cobras' John Vaughan (playing up), Adam Brown and Alex Spragg.

Cobras had to win the match. If they did, Sharks would be relegated, anything else and they would go down instead.

Vaughan was pushed but took a maximum, while Brown defeated Register 8-11, 16-14, 11-4, 11-4.

However a four-set win for Register over Spragg and braces for both Betts and Baker were enough for Sharks who closed out a 6-4 match win with a five-set doubles victory for Betts and Register against Vaughan and Brown.

It was Baker's first match in the league since November and his last appearance before moving away, and the league wishes him well, a speedy recovery for full health and good fortune in his forthcoming marriage.

So Cobras are relegated, despite just 11 points separating them and third place in the division.

Back in the second division, there was still the issue of the wooden spoon or the strength award — Echoes faced a daunting task of having to win against Seals to avoid it.

As it was, the Seals' team of Ray Amo, Matt Hudson and Chris Marshall won 10-0 although Brenda Baldock in her first match of the season did take Marshall the distance.

There was a 7-3 win for Gresham's School against Barracudas, for whom Rex Parfitt was involved in three five-setters, losing to Roy Lau and Henry Yeung, but defeating Ray Sin.

Yeung also beat Jonathan Dempsey 14-12 in the fifth, while Mike Toye took a brace for Barracudas.

The Handicap Doubles Cup neared its conclusion. Cobra's Adam Brown, Edna Stone and Bev Baldock-Yaxley reached the semi-finals with a 5-0 win over Backhanders.

They play Barracudas next week for the right to meet Echoes — Naomi Myhill, Charlie Usher and Francesca Bennett reached the final after winning their semi 5-1 over Alpha.

Results. Handicap Doubles Cup semi-final: Alpha 1, Echoes 5.

Handicap Doubles Cup quarter-final: Backhanders 0, Cobras 5.

First Division: Outlaws 6, Alpha 4; Pirates 1, Outlaws 9; Sharks 6, Cobras 4.

Second Division: Beta 6, Goblins 4; Backhanders 7, Poachers 3; Goblins 0, Backhanders 10; Echoes 0, Seals 10; Barricudas 3, Gresham School 7.