While the U16 Epee team of Jacob Crick, Will Prendergast and David Pugh were narrowly edged out of the medals in fourth, last year’s silver medallists Aaron Crick, Serena Hogg and Arnie Seal went one better in the U13 relay to take the title.
A thrilling 44-45 defeat in the first round to Abingdon-B galvanised the team to gain the highest points difference by the end of the pools, so the first direct elimination match, the Quarter Final, saw Reading B quickly despatched 45-17.
In a mature semi-final bout, Hogg fought strategically to protect the boys’ early lead and extend it in the middle stint. A hard-fought bout for Crick opened the lead further for Seal’s clinical and ruthless finish against the opposition’s anchorman to secure a 45-24 victory, and a place in the final against current nemesis, Abingdon.
In a tense relay, Seal put the team into a narrow 5-3 lead, Crick taking some heavy hits to finish 9-10. Hogg fought a very cagey bout to recover 15-13. Switching rotations, Crick came out 17-20 down, but Seal pulled the lead back, 25-22. Serena fought a defensive next leg to keep Sway in contention at 29-30. Crick’s last bout was magnificent to hold the score at 34-35. Hogg’s last bout went to full time, her tactical fencing holding off a stronger opponent to leave the score at 35-37.
Seal fought as anchor again in an exhausting last leg to level the score. As the lead swung both ways, the relay edged to a thrilling finish, 43-42, 43-all, then 44-43. The last point was an explosive double hit and the narrowest of victories, 45-44.
Organisers and referees all made mention of a fantastic match, fought hard and in the very best spirit. To cap the day, Arnie Seal also received the Sportmanship award of the event. In a tough region to win, it’s a testament to the training regime, supported by club sponsors Lashmars Tax Accountants, which sees fencing in the New Forest continue to gain strength.