The Newcastle Blitzkrieg were challenged in their hometown by the Big Bad Bees, the Mercs, and the hastily-assembled Skullwailies. Jousting revelry began on Saturday the 20th of February as all four teams descended upon Nobbys Beach Reserve, the Blitzkrieg’s inner city home ground. This was followed by a desperate jaunt to the nearby Nobbys Beach to seek some respite from the scorching summer heat. The night found the vibrant Juggers partaking in alcohol-fuelled conversation almost until the dawn of the day star, before retiring to the homes of their generous Novocastrian hosts in inadequate preparation for the official tournament the following day.
Play began on the Sunday at 10:30am, with the home team opening the tournament against the Canberran Bees. Despite being severely depleted by prior injuries, the Newcastle Blitzkrieg held the Bees to a two point lead at halftime. The game was briefly disturbed by a short but intense burst of sky-water early in the second half, which thankfully was the only such interruption for the day. When the two hundredth stone was thrown, the final score read 11-6 in favour of the travellers.
In the following game, the Bees stamina was tested against the Skullwailies, a team mustered from the Skullduggery and Flaily Waily members who were able to make the trip. They hailed from metropolises as distant as Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra, and at halftime they held a narrow 3-2 lead. The second half saw them more than double their score for a solid but hard-fought 7-4 victory.
The third game of the day found the Newcastle Blitzkrieg facing the Skullwailies. The stubborn Novocastrians managed to hold the Skullwailies to their lowest total of the tournament, but were unable to notch any points of their own. The game ended with the score of 5-0.
The Mercs inaugural game was promising as they challenged the Bees in a close match. The Mercs were led by a local but at times were comprised of members from Canberra, Maitland, and Brisbane. The Mercs made their presence known but were unable to avoid being felled 9-6 by the Bees.
A break for lunch followed this game in which some non-combatant Novocastrians ran a barbecque to prevent confused travellers from becoming lost wandering the Hunter Street Mall. This was a huge success and, with some investment from several locals, the event raised $42 for Newcastle Jugger.
The afternoon games commenced with Mercs taking on the Skullwailies. The Mercs were solidly defeated with a score of 8-1, but the winning Skullwailies sustained a number of injuries which would affect the outcome of the tournament.
The final game of the round robin saw the two local-led sides, the Newcastle Blitzkrieg and the Mercs, faceoff in a battle for the wooden spoon. Despite a promising start and a narrow halftime lead of 5-4, the Blitzkrieg were unable to hold their nerve. In defiance of a challenging schedule the Mercs won the final round to come away with a deserved 8-7 victory, the first in their history.
Sadly no grand final was played due to the injuries sustained by the Skullwailies over the course of the day, particularly in their game against the Mercs. The Bees sportingly accepted that to play a Skullwailies team with mercenaries replacing star players would make for an anticlimactic finale and the tournament was officially resolved as a draw.
The tournament was made a success by the generosity of the Novocastrian hosts, the visitingness of the travelling interstate Juggers, and the vigour and ferocity of the competitors. Congratulations to the victorious Skullwailies and Bees!
Game 1: Big Bad Bees (11) - Newcastle Blitzkreig (6)
Game 2: SkullWailies (7) - Big Bad Bees (4)
Game 3: SkullWailies (5) - Newcastle Blitzkreig (0)
Game 4: Big Bad Bees (9) - Mercs (6)
Game 5: SkullWailies (8) - Mercs (1)
Game 6: Mercs (8) - Newcastle Blitzkreig (7)
Final: No contest - SkullWailies withdraw due to injuries.
Result - Skullwailies and Big Bad Bees draw.