Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Lead Cup - Semi-Finals

Semi-final day dawned cold, clear and crisp, the last day for two of our competitors. The fans streamed into the arena knowing they were in for some competition with back to back semi-final matches. Commentators, “experts”, betting agencies and fans alike were all in reasonable agreement about the match ups. In Semi-Final A, the lesser known Caran d’Ache was expected to put up a creditable fight, but eventually succumb to the corporate weight of Papermate. The all Japanese Semi-Final B was expected to be a fairly one sided affair with surprise semi-finalists Zebra going down to Pentel, who were the favourites to eventually win the finals.

Semi-Final A kicked off with a clear win to Caran d’Ache in the Blackness test and sent a murmur of “upset” through the crowds, but Papermate immediately countered with a win in the Erasability test. The Swiss then took the narrowest of leads in the Smear Resistance test, so all the elements were in place for a real race right down to the finish line. The Strength test started with Papermate scoring an emphatic opening goal which silenced the growing buzz of an upset win, but the match hardened Swiss marshalled their forces and came back with a withering counter attack. Although no one knew it at the time, the match was over, for Caran d’Ache then continued on and utterly destroyed Papermate in the strength test, taking out the semi-final 6 points to 8. Standing proud, the Swiss felt they were ready for whichever Japanese opponent they were to face in the final.

After a short intermission the crowds were again hushed and ready for the Japanese teams to slug it out toe to toe in Semi-Final B. The Blackness test went into extra time and still no winner emerged so eventually it was called a tie. The stalemate was then broken when Zebra won the Erasability test. The crowds could barely contain themselves with excitement. Several elderly spectators were overcome and required medical assistance. Pentel then evened the contest up with a win in the Smear Resistance test. As was the case in so many other matches, the Strength test would decide the winner. Although it was more even than the previous semi-final strength test, there was no doubt that Pentel was the stronger of the two, and so they booked their place in the final with a 6 to 8 win over Zebra.

Whilst no one was surprised to see Pentel in the final, at the start of the tournament Caran d’Ache were a rank outsider. Could the giant killing Swiss take out the ultimate prize?

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