Mens 2 v Phoenix (A) - 12/3/13

Another day, another reminder of the step up in class for Mens 2 against a Phoenix side who look like they could be a 2nd division side next season, along with Wisewood. Phoenix were older than Wisewood (against whom only 4 rubbers did not go to a third end) and tended to rely more on guile and experience, rather than power, so it was a very different match up. This opposition seemed to get half way through an end, sometimes behind, then flick a switch and turn off virtually all errors, waiting for them to arrive from Ranmoor! We are a very obliging club, we do not like to disappoint our hosts, so duly didn't!
Wily Coyote must have been playing for Phoenix
With Steve having a 10 minute delayed arrival waiting for his beautiful nurse to apply all his preventative strapping (well, the club matriach Lesley), Rich and Rob stepped into the first match along with Ben with debutant Arun on the other court before we dropped to one. The match of course would be played in the famous greenhouse, in freezing cold conditions on a concrete floor. Steve with his lighting allergy could not go in the warm food room, so had to stay in the cold, and played all matches in baselayer, club shirt and tracksuit!
Rich and Rob must have been giving away years to their opponents, as we all did, but gave away little else, and the first end was nip and tuck until Rich hit two shots which would have been clearly out to the right sideline, lost both points, and lost the end 21-19. Ouch! The second end, lost to 14, was much more one sided, indeed only 2 of 9 rubbers had a stronger second end for Ranmoor after the wily coyotes had sussed us out!
Ben and Arun's first game was even tighter, losing 22-20 in a classic, before just failing to get to double figures in end 2 as our boys ran out of steam.
Steve and Alistair then entered the fray and despite some great rallies and net kills it followed the same pattern and faded at the end of both ends, losing to 18 and 16, which was their first ever defeat together in straight ends. Like London on!
The second set of rubbers went the way of the first, with Rich and Rob losing 21-18 and 21-14 to the second pair, Arun and Ben losing 21-12 and 21-14 to the third pair, and Steve and Alistair losing 21-15 and 21-18 to the top pair which would have been OK but for a woeful start to the rubber where we lost 8 of he first 9 points. Arun gets a special award here for his passion, encouraged by captain Steve before the match, but going beyond even Sam levels of shrieking energy!  We want passion and energy at Ranmoor, while remaining respectful of opponents, so Arun looks like he will fit into the club very well!!
The match gone, pride was all important, and this time Ben and Arun drew the short straw of the strong top pair, losing 21-14 and 21-8. This pair had one exceptionally strong guy which probably made it the hardest pair faced this season. Rich and Rob were edged to 19 and 16 by the top pair, then buggered off to watch the football leaving Steve and Alistair to finish up in a deserted (apart from Ben) cold greenhouse, and at this point our boys were beginning to fade, throwing in a few errors (particularly your captain and author, not like me so apologies!) losing to 16 and 13. Never having lost a rubber in straight ends (even to Wisewood 1) we proceeded to do it in all 3 rubbers this time! Still, credit to the opponents!
So, a 9-0 defeat a week after handing out the same punishment to Beaver Hill. Without winning a single end all night, we were outclassed in truth, and good luck to our opponents in their bid to go up. Phoenix had three strong pairs and in total there were less than 10 points difference between all three of their pairs. Some food for thought for the return next month. As for Ranmoor, we face University on Friday, in reality the key match of the week, and a good win would leave us mathematically safe of the bottom two - onwards and upwards we hope! Well done team for all wearing the club colours (bar Rich, obviously) which we like to encourage!
Man of the match - Rich and Rob squeezed past Steve and Al on points to get the best points record (though in a straight ends defeat let us not get carried away team!!!). MOTM this time goes to Rich for some amazing net kills and smashes but credit to Rob too! Yes, Rich and net kill - you heard me correctly!!