Docklands retain Men's Super 8 place
19th May 2017
London Docklands will again compete in the Men’s Super 8 next season after they beat Richmond 3-1 in the promotion play-off match last weekend.
Richmond, whose fine end of season form propelled them into the play-off spot, will have to do it all again in Division 1 next year.
History was always against the lower division side. Since the introduction of the Super 8 format in 2010, every team that has finished in the relegation play-off spot has managed to retain their place in the top flight for the following season.
Docklands had themselves tasted defeat in this fixture once before, as the Division 1 challengers, when losing out to Solent in 2013. Of that season’s squad, only Raul Sanchez Galan and coach Andy Hopper remained for this year’s fixture.
When Richmond squared the match at one set all with a thumping 25-16 second set victory, an upset looked on the cards but Docklands soon reasserted their authority, winning the next two sets to 15 and 20.
In the equivalent Women’s Super 8 play-off, the dominance of the upper division was finally broken. After five years in which the Division 1 side had never won the promotion play-off, Oxford Students finally snapped that run with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Team South Wales.
This was the Welsh side’s third appearance in the play-off in four years but their experience could not help them beat the drop this time. After taking a cagey opening set 27-25, the Students eased away, winning to 21 and 16 in the next two sets. This meant Team South Wales became the first Super 8 side since Tameside in 2011 to be relegated via the play-offs.
Further down the league pyramid, the battle for the final spots in both Men’s and Women’s Division 1 came down to two head-to-head contests. In the men’s competition, Team Durham dispatched City of Bristol 3-0. Having played second fiddle all season to the undefeated Sheffield 2 side in Division 2 North, Durham were in no mood to give their southern opponents any quarter. Winning the opening set by 25-11 set the tone as they ran out comfortable winners.
In the women’s competition, Cambridge & Anglia Ruskin University triumphed 3-1 over a Tameside outfit who had secured their play-off spot in dramatic fashion on the last day of the regular season. There was plenty of late drama in this one too, with the winners eventually being crowned after a 29-27 win in the decisive fourth set.
With some teams having already announced their intention to depart the NVL next season, the Division 3 play-off competitions took on a rather different look. In the women’s competition, all four of the Division 3 runners-up (Loughborough Students, University of Nottingham, Sussex Dolphins and Cardiff Falcons) have now automatically been promoted to Division 2.
In the men’s competition, the four Division 3 runners-up competed for three available slots in Division 2 next season. Norwich Spikers and Oxford Students won their opening games to take two of the slots. The two losers then went head-to-head with Sheffield Scorpions triumphing 3-1 over Richmond 2 to grab the final place.