Nottingham win the mixed doubles to take tonight’s proceedings to a deciding match. Nottingham’s win levels the score at 2-2 with just the women’s doubles to go.
The mixed doubles saw Birmingham’s Nico Ruponen and Catherine Grant face Chris Adcock and Jess Pugh. Nottingham Captain Adcock boasts impressive credentials with Olympic experience and World and Commonwealth medals to his name, whilst team mate Pugh was European Junior Champion in 2014.
After starting well with points won by former UOB student Grant, Adcock and Pugh stormed their way to a 9-4 victory. Intense discussion between Grant and Swedish international Pugh heading into the second game ensured it was a more closely fought affair with the score tied at 3-3. Good communication between Adcock and Pugh allowed them to make full use of consecutive smash shots and get into the lead at 5-4. Ruponen brought the Lions back into the game with a smash shot, and a mistake from Adcock pulled the Lions back into it at 8-7. After opting to use their power play, the gamble ultimately didn’t pay off for Ruponen and Grant as they lost the game 9-7.
The opening exchanges of the third game were much more even with Ruponen showing his class and to bring the score level at 2-2. Nottingham began to pile on the pressure by moving into a two point lead, when the Lions called for a time out. This provided ample opportunity to fire the crowd back up and bring the Lions back into the game and win vital points to get the score to 5-4. A poor serve from Pugh meant Birmingham retained their lead, heading into the final stages with a 7-6 lead. Adcock opted to use Nottingham’s power play and it did not work to their advantage, giving the Lions the game.
The fourth game started off with more noise from the crowd that lifted Birmingham and kept the score at 2-2. Ruponen again proved his worth with a vital smash shot, moving Birmingham into a 5-3 lead. Nottingham took the opportunity to use their time out but it had little affect on the Lions who won the next point. With the game at 6-5, Adcock and Pugh really turned on the burners and pulled away into a 7-5 lead. Some clever play from Pugh enabled Ruponen to smash home and get the Lions back in it at 7-7. In the final moments however, an error from Ruponen gifted Nottingham the win in what was a one-sided match despite the Lions resistance in the final game.