Cambridge University pulled off a shock win over Blues to add more spice to an already simmering season.
The students rolled to their first win of the campaign with 10-3 triumph over a stuttering Blues to signal their intent to survive and prosper in the Prem.
At the other end of the table, Hampstead recorded a crucial win over Spencer in an intense, hard fought encounter. Their 10-7 victory in Earlsfield keeps them top while Spencer slip into fourth behind Bristol Bombers and Hillcroft.
Cambridge climb to seventh on the back of the win which was lit up by Brandon Ciesla who scored four goals with two assists and helped take the game away from the depleted visitors.
“The team is now really starting to get to know one another's tendencies, allowing us to make some great plays and stay strong in defence,” said skipper Leander Crocker.
“Special mentions go to Sam Welles for his outstanding first time with us as a long pole and Brandon Ciesla for his MoM performance. We're hoping to ride on this wave of momentum this coming weekend.”
Blues limped back to London rueing the absence of three of their starting D-unit and Dave Baldwin at Face-Off.
“We were short-handed and while our man-on-man defending was good and we rarely got beaten on the first dodge, our slides were non existent and team defence was poor which lead to easy lay ups for them,” said captain James Kidd.
“We still haven’t played a game with our full defence which is frustrating because we'd be a different team with it. I still believe we had enough to go and win that game but we just didn’t come to play. They did and deserved the win.
“Cambridge played with some passion and energy and we didn't, simple as that. They had some stand-out performances but as a team they were good and out worked us. Our only positive from the game was Cam Tobin who again played very well and made a huge amount of saves.”
Blues run into a wounded Spencer this week who will be looking to bounce back after the Hampstead defeat. They took a 3-0 lead but couldn’t build a big enough gap before the champions located their cohesion and stormed back.
The effort level rarely dipped below full-on and both sides illuminated the contest with great skill. Will Pickett with two goals and Mike Carbone, with a hat-trick, starred for Hampstead while Rob Holmes re-found his scoring touch with three for Spencer.
But the game provided a goalkeeping master class with Rick Bone and Brian Vandenbossche making the impossible seem normal as they thwarted waves of attacks in and end-to-end match.
Spencer will need a work party to re-paint the pipes as they pinged with shots throughout the game but the keepers’ reflexes, positioning and game-reading was premier class.
Co-captain Tom Roche, who put in a mammoth shift for Spencer, praised Hampstead performance and cast forward to the next match: “Blues won’t be a walkover, they’ve been our most consistent rival in the time I’ve been at Spencer and we have to respect them.
“The Hampstead game was Lacrosse as it’s meant to be played. Do I think we were unlucky at times in the game? Absolutely. But all credit to Hampstead for a game well played.”
Bristol kept up their pleasing start to the season with a 9-6 win at home to Hitchin which pushes them into second slot while the Hertfordshire side is still looking for its first win.
Cardiff are the other winless team after going down bravely 15-8 to Reading.
The two other teams with 100% records – Hillcroft and Welwyn – are back in action this week with the Warriors heading to Cardiff and the Croft entertaining the Bombers.
Hitchin host Cambridge while Hampstead entertain Reading at the Westway.
More Spencer v Hampstead action. Photos by Danny Buckland.
Bristol Bombers 9 - 6 Hitchin
Cambridge 10 - 3 Blues
Reading 15 - 8 Harlequins
Spencer 7 - 10 Hampstead
Harlequins v Welwyn
Hampstead v Reading (2:30pm)
Hillcroft v Bristol Bombers (12:00pm)
Hitchin v Cambridge
Blues v Spencer