Nuggets wrap up women’s National League title

blair2007 Archive

The Victorian Nuggets turned probability into certainty when they wrapped up the women’s National League at the NSW Championships on Saturday. Whilst they only managed fourth place with a depleted team, their worst result of the season, they still finished ahead of the South Australians, which was all they needed to do.

The other title which was settled on Saturday was the women’s individual. Grace Elson’s third place, combined with other results, was enough to give her an unassailable lead going into the final individual round at the Australian Long Distance Championships next weekend. She joined Matt Crane as the senior individual winner for this year.

The Southern Arrows’ strong challenge in the men’s competition hit a major hurdle on Saturday; with Kerrin Rattray injured and Simon Uppill otherwise engaged at JWOC, they only had one finisher and slipped six points behind the Nuggets. With Rattray out for the week and Uppill only running the relay, the NSW Stingers, who closed to within 15 points with a win today, might be the greatest threat to the leaders.

Both individual races saw double-digit margins. Neither Dave Shepherd nor Hanny Allston are in contention for season honours through missing too many races early on, but both recorded comprehensive wins, dominating the opposition. Both races saw close battles for the minor placings. New Zealander Neil Kerrison edged out Rob Preston for second, whilst a four-minute error at the first control stopped Grace Elson from getting ahead of Jo Allison.

There were few major moves in the junior division with the leading contenders all absent at JWOC. The Victorian Nuggets and Queensland Cyclones continue to hold useful leads in the men’s and women’s team competitions, although both will probably need to wait until the relays to settle their titles. The junior men’s individual competition will go down to the final day, Kieran Sullivan closing to within five points of Tristan Lee when he became the first person to win three races in an exceptionally even season. Aislinn Prendergast scored her first win at this level over the Neumann sisters, Krystal and Laurina, but none made any meaningful impression on the absent series leader Heather Harding.