Slovakia had scored an impressive 16 points on day one, to follow Russia into the final days contest with a great chance of a medal. But as we have said already, the new system is fine in principle, but is it a well conceived and suitable replacement, or simply just a poorly implemented one? Sunday would prove many things, not least of which would be... are the Russian's good enough to maintain what looks to be a stunning day one success against tough sector opposition, or will Slovakia continue with its easy passage? Can France, England, Belgium, or indeed Holland do anything about it? In light of the new points systems, these will be questions raised again before our coverage is complete. But back to the final days match.

There will be several more slideshows to come relating to this report, as there was not enough room to include them here. Watch out for their link, here and on the Contents page.
Sunday weather began in a continuing improved manner, even though a small amount of rain had fallen overnight. It may have not seemed relevant at the time but many As usual there was a lot of speculation about how the venue would respond and, it was more than likely that just about every team had made some adjustment to their plans, following the first day.

Setting the Scene
With fifteen anglers now on one point, trying to predict effectively where the individual World Champion may come from, could be like finding a needle in a haystack. Theoretically, we could see THREE ONE POINTERS on the podium. The draw however had dispersed them on a relatively random basis, with the exception of two sectors, which contained three anglers, these were sector 2 in A section,and sector 3 in C section. Our fifteen possibles were as follows: three Russians, two English and Slovakians, one each from Holland, Belgium, Poland, Czech Rep., Ukraine, Germany, Hungary and Denmark.

The crowd’s favourites seemed to be Alan Scotthorne, Steve Gardener, Belgium's Hans Slegers and Dutchman Dieter Friederichs, although there were a number of other potentials (including that strong Russian presence!), if not improbable champions in the making.

Once again, most teams were 'balling' an inside line, somewhere between 8 and 10m and then cupping long for bream with a variety of baits. A few were actually balling the long line from the off and no doubt going for broke! England had opted for a similar approach to day one of just feeding inactive Russian joker in leam and groundbait at 8 and simply joker in grey leam at 13m for the bream. Bunches of 3-4 bloodworm on a 16 hook, 4-5 inches overdepth for bream on floats to 1gr., pinkie alternated with bloodworm on 20-22 hooks under .4g to .6g floats for the bits.

This may seem an unusual approach to most anglers, as bream are generally noted for their large appetites, but as Mark Addy explained later, “our plans had been formulated over the previous weeks practice, with two men fishing solely for bream, which they had caught every day except one.” He added, “we used Russian joker because of its inactive nature and found the small fish wouldn't readily come over it, but the bream would. The Dutch bream have become very clever and know that worms and casters are what Dutch anglers use to catch them, so are very wary when they see them.” Hookbaits for the bream were bunches of three to four bloodworm and pinkies or bloodworm for the smaller fish.”

A run-down of the sections/sectors
A section, sector 1 contained top Belgian, Geert Jacobs, Holland's highest European points scorer Dieter Friederichs and France's Stephane Pottelet. Dieter was on 1pt from day one. Sector 2 was not an easy one. Three anglers sat here with 1pt. Hungary's Jozsef Varga, Poland's Krzysztof Bukrak and the Ukrainian, Sergiy Burdak. Add to this Italy's Umberto Ballabeni, Des Shipp and top Russian Youry Siptsov and you have one tough sector of thirteen! This was a really difficult group of anglers for Des Shipp to overcome and was likely to be one of the most interesting and important battle-zones of the day. The final sector 3 was relatively easy in comparison. Welshman Lee Edwards and German Rene Bredereck looked to have a simpler passage.

Team Drennan England, as is the tradition, swapped their lowest points scorer on day one with their reserve. This year the short straw was drawn by Sean Ashby, a situation even a 5x World Champion has found himself in! Stu Conroy was reserve and would be a more than capable replacement. He would find himself drawn in B section, sector 1, next to Des Shipps’ day one conqueror, Russian Igor Potapov, could lightening strike twice? Sector 2 saw Belgium's Frans Schoubban matched against France's Didier Delannoy, Germany's 2008 European Champion Gunter Horler and the Czech Republic's Euro big-fish expert Jan Heidenreich. Slovakian Marian Rybnikar was also in this group. Sector 3 had Italy's Jacopo Falsini against Dutchman Arjan Klop, as well as a newcomer to the event from New Zealand, Stuart Stevenson. He would find it tough going!

C sections' sector 1 looked a breeze for Czech star Ladislav Konopasek, but Scotland's commercial king, Jamie Masson, would not give him an easy ride. Will Raison was in sector 2, close to where Denmark's Simon Jensen had won the section the previous day with two bream. There was also a couple of other bream caught in the area, so things were looking okay for a good match, although Will would not necessarily have things his own way.

Belgium's Hans Slegers was keen to add another section win to the one from day one and Holland's Jo Adriola would keep Will 'honest'! The final sector 3 was a real tough nut to crack. Their were three on 1pt, Denmark's Simon Jensen, Slovakia's Igor Holecek and Russian Ilya Yakushin. Include the likes of Frenchman Benoit Pellegrino, Hungarian Ambrus Tibor and Italy's Stefano Defendi and you can see why.

The final two sections contained Alan Scotthorne and Steve Gardener respectively and these sectors had shown signs that they could prove tough. Sector 1 in D section pitted Frances' Alain Dewimille, Germany's Marco Beck (1pt) against Belgium's most senior and respected angler, Guido Nullens. As if to confirm his status, many Belgian's had traveled north to watch him and a large crowd was in attendance at the end of his 13m pole! But this would become a battle of the three early pegs, who would ultimately occupy the first three places in the sector. One of them was Slovakia's Rastislav Dudr, would had scored 1pt the day before. He would narrowly miss the podium by inches, or should we say grams!!! Sector 2 had Alan Scotthorne drawn on peg 24. On Saturday's performance the area around this number seemed a little restricted in fish numbers. The omens did not look good for a SIX TIMER! He did have the day one Russian winner Viacheslav Borisov for company two pegs away, but he would eventually fare even worse than Alan. Sector 3 looked to favour the late numbers with Wales' Darren Frost ideally positioned on peg 37 to gain good points in what looked to be a below strength sector.

Section E had not been too brilliant on day one, but things would get even worse. England's Steve Gardener had drawn peg 10 in sector 1, nine peg away from his day one sector winning peg. He had Italy's Gianluigi Sorti nearby, but yet again, the early pegs looked to be the form ones. Sector 2 looked an easy passage for top Frenchman Diego Da Silva, but for Polish master Piotr Lorenc and Germany's Ralf Herdlitschke. The final sector of the whole match length again favoured a high number, just like on day one. Ultimately, the first five places in the sector would be divided up between the last five pegs! And it would be a good battle. Even Hungary's Szilard Magyar and Belgian Bart Helsen couldn't stop that from where they were.

All the talk really centred around whether England, France, Holland or Belgium could overhaul Russia and Slovakia to take the title, this was what it had come down to. Would the draw system work for, or against, any of them again?

Section-by-Section – A brief summary

Des Shipp had been well up with small roach and perch, but as the first hour had drawn to a close, the Russian and Italian anglers had started to catch better quality roach on big maggot and caster. Des was still looking good for a top 4 place, but with the team result in the balance, key decisions had to be made. An win in A section may help secure a team gold for England, but with the sections divided into three sectors it was hard to keep track on the scores. Des, along with Alan in D2 and Steve in E1, would concentrate on catching a bream in the later part of the match. If one angler caught one, the others could go back to small fish to consolidate points. As the match drew to a conclusion, it was clear this wasn’t going to happen.

Come the weigh in, Des ended 6th with 2,050kg. What made it even worse, was the fact that another 130gr (7oz) would have seen him 3rd in the section, pushing the Slovakian down a point in the process. It seems easy looking back now, but it shows the massive pressure the management are under to make big tactical decisions.

Stu Conroy had also started well in B section's sector 1, and was well ahead on fish count by the halfway stage. Although Russia's Igor Potapov had caught an early bream, which put him at the head of the section, Stu was nevertheless second and going well, but really needed to overhaul the Russian. With half the match gone, Igor added his second bream and began to look good for his second sector win, and the possibility of becoming World Individual Champion. The only glimmer of hope for Stu was that Potapov was not catching many bits short, whereas Stu was. This could end up close, so long as Stu got a bream and the Russian didn’t get a third! The dilemma was whether Stu should consolidate his position in the sector with roach, or continue looking for a bream. At the time it seemed logical to look for a bream as the roach had slowed to a crawl, even though they were still of a good average size. With the Sky Sports cameras in attendance, it was looked like this might be the place where a gold medal could be decided. In fact, the overall team outcome would rest more heavily on the final two sections. Des in A section would also play a role in the days outcome.

Towards the end, Stu eventually foul-hooked his first bream, after a number of liners. Unfortunately it came off, so now seemed the obvious time to go for them. Right on cue, with 35 minutes to go, he hooked one. Having carefully played it into the waiting net, you could see there was visible relief on Stu's face. All of a sudden Igor, on the next peg, began to look a bit worried! With fifteen minutes left on the clock, the Russian hooked another bream and after a short tense battle, safely netted it. This would make him World Champion and his coach knew it too!!!

Stu knew there was another bream there for the taking, but couldn’t get a bite in time. Just as the final hooter sounded his float disappeared and Stu latched into a fish... it was a couple of minutes too late to land in time, for if it's not clear of the water on the bell, it doesn't count! Stu finished almost 2kg short of the Russian... a breams' length away!

Sector 2 saw Belgian Frans Schoubban nearly one and a half kilos ahead of Czech big fish star, Jan Heidenreich, with Frances' Didier Delannoy in third. Germany's 2008 European Champion Gunter Horler was having a torrid time. Even his poor first day result didn't get better and he matched that 9th place! This would be one match he would wish to forget, much like his team.

At the other end of the section, in sector 3, Mark Green of the USA was playing his second bream at just past the halfway stage and was looking good for a high placing. He would go on to weigh 5,987kg and come second, beaten by Poland's Wiktor Walczak by the narrowest of margins... 102g, with Italy's Jacopo Falsini in third.

Almost from the off, Will Raison was into a 100g roach, and as he was netting his second, it became apparent that he was having a fantastic start, because no one around him had had a bite! Interestingly, Will began loose feeding pinkies straight away and was fishing with a pinkie on the hook. This was an adjustment to the team plan from the previous day as Alan had been the only one to really do that. Gradually a few other people started to catch, but Will was flying. It was also good news for England as Will was on a peg that would actually have a bearing on not only his sector, but the last one!

Because of the imbalance in team numbers, due to Bosnia Herzegovenia not attending, the final sector consisted of only twelve teams. This meant that the end peg in every second sector of a section, peg 26, would count purely as a points buffer in sector 3, to balance the numbers back to 13. Will’s weight would therefore count in sector 3. This means he could affect the Russian, Slovakian, French, Italian and Hungarian's sector points if he did well in his own sector. For instance, he could take points away from them... but they couldn't take points off him… NICE ONE!!!

As the match progressed Jamie Masson in sector 2, was once again starting to catch quality roach, just like the day before. He then added that all-important bream which would give him another second in sector 1 with an excellent 3,554kg. He would take a well deserved individual sixth placing overall for his 4pts.

Towards the later stages, Will already had three bream in the net and Mark Downes was  jokingly implying over the radio, that the runners could all go and have a cup of copy in C section!!! With Will comfortably winning his sector by some margin, a quick call around confirmed that Igor Potapov, next to Stu Conroy, was the only first day section winner likely to win his sector again, so Will might be in line for a podium slot.

In the final sector, Frenchman Benoit Pellegrino, on C33, had also started well and was catching fish very quickly from the off, in the third sector but he dropped off the pace as the match progressed. Going extremely well was Denmark's Simon Jensen on C36, who was beating all around him. Simon had drawn nearby the previous day so was quite confident of reasonable result as his two bream had shot him to the front of his section. He started well and gradually crept up the section with some good roach, along with the Slovakian and Hungary's Tibor Ambrus. A bream well into the match, ultimately sealed his section dominance and with Will Raison posting a massive 8kgs+, Simon knew he would be on the podium or there abouts.


The large Belgian crowd that had gathered behind Guido Nullens, were enjoying some early action from their hero, but like some other sectors, fish seemed to be congregated in the very early pegs. These were occupied by a Dane, Slovak and Austrian and that's how the sectors top three would be divided up. Guido would end in fourth place. As you moved towards sector 2, you could feel catch rates slowing up.

Things were looking progressively worse as you arrived in sector 2, although the massive crowd behind England's Alan Scotthorne seemed expectant of some 'magical' moment. Alan had been set in a poor part of his sector on D24 and as we found out too late, the plan would have been better served if small fish had been the target. But then hindsight is a wonderful thing, as we all know. Fish were coming at a slower rate in other parts of the venue and of a smaller size. This was a little difficult to understand as the previous day this particular sector had produced weights to 4 kilos in the lower numbers, and it's also worth noting that Alan's peg had produced just 382g... OMINOUS! In fact Alan pulled out of a bream with just 15 minutes to go.

Arriving at the end of the section after a disappointing and unproductive photo journey, it was plain to see the imbalanced areas. Fish had vanished from what was an average section the day before, especially the roach. Many were now concentrating on picking up a bream, including Alan and the last part of the match would make or break many a teams' dream, including England.

Walking into E section, sector 1 was producing fish regularly to the first four pegs. Here, Channel Islander, Greig Brown was enjoying good sport from some quality roach on peg 2. He would help his team to a superb overall 18th place with a clear sector win of 3,368kg. His coach, Thierry Theaudin, was over the moon at such a performance. Both Greig and his team produced one of their best results in the competitions history. But as we walked higher you could see a dip in sport. England looked in some trouble as Steve Gardener was on peg 10 and although picking up the odd fish, it was clear that the first four pegs were running away with it. A revue of the sector weights at the end, would confirm that it got worse towards the middle, before improving at the end! Almost a carbon copy of D section.

The middle sector 2 had Poland's Piotr Lorenc and Frances' Diego Da Silva dividing up what fish there where in the area. This was becoming poor and unexplainable. The end pegs of sector 3 was definitely the place to be. Plenty of fish here, and good quality as well. Scotland's Davy Concoran was having a great 'Celtic' battle with Ireland's Mark Lichtenburg. Some good catch shots would be purchased here at the end no doubt!

Bream triumph

Once again, late bream had made a difference, but Igor and Stu couldn't have realised the significance of Igor's final 2kg plus fish. At the weigh in, Stu had 5,177kg to Igor's 7,116kg, three bream against one! If circumstances had been different with Igor losing that last fish  then the world crown would have been sitting on a certain someone else's head… Will Raison, who took Silver with another brilliant performance on the big stage. Denmark's Simon Jensen took a well deserved Bronze medal, having won sector 2, section C, on day one, and then was pushed into a second in sector by Will's peg 26 points. His brother Rikard, who was running the bank for him, was nevertheless over-joyed with him.

Mind The Gap!

Looking at the five section overall, why should the end two have suffered such poor returns on day two, when the early three did not? I am sure that what did not help was the policy of leaving massive gaps between the sections. This happened in the Czech Republic last year and created TEN end pegs. More to the point, if fish move away from the centre, they tend to congregate around early and late pegs in a section because of the space left! This looked to be what was happening here. There use to be a FIPSed policy of pegging straight through a venue, but of late this seems to have been relaxed, WHY?

One Bridge Too Many?
The problem could also have been something to do with a lack of wind, which had been evident for most of the preceding week? E, D, and to some extent C sections, where on the straight part of the venue where the wind was not running down. A and B sections bore left and into the path of the wind. But again, why should the fish congregate at each sections end? Maybe the heavy bankside pressure from the thousands of visitors? Maybe a culmination of all these factors combined? Whatever the reasons, from England's point of view and perhaps others on the day, the bridge at the end of C section was clearly one bridge too many for some!

Team wise
Slovakia claimed their first win, no doubt helped by a kind day one draw. They did enough on day two to stay ahead of France and Belgium by the narrowest of margins, a consequence of the new system. England were fifth, just 3.5 points away from a win, so this showed how close the match had become. Unfortunately for the team, both Steve and Alan couldn't get high enough in their respective sections to assist the team, and Des was agonisingly 130 grams short of a third in sector. With an improvement in any of these results, England could have secured silver, or even gold. As it was, the event was fished under a new points system, which Slovakia benefited greatly from.

The old system would have seen them in 8th place with Belgium holding gold, something I am sure will stick in their throat! Perhaps when we look back and analyse the result, we'll be able to assess whether this year's current approach has produced an even and balanced result, or whether it need to be re-assessed in a format that will arrive at a more acceptable outcome. We shall be looking more closely at the new system later in our coverage, and putting forward an alternative way to produce a more dynamic, fair and balanced draw structure, to the benefit of ALL teams competing. Despite whatever future outcome arises, Slovakia will always remain the 2009 World Champions!