Fencing: Epic encounter to end epee

Graham Payne (left) and Brett Davis battle it out in the epee final of the New Zealand fencing...
Graham Payne (left) and Brett Davis battle it out in the epee final of the New Zealand fencing championships at the Lion Foundation Arena in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Shocked. That was how Brett Davis felt when he eliminated the favourite to reach the final of the epee at the national fencing championships in Dunedin this weekend.

The lanky 30-year-old was still trying to digest his surprise 15-2 win against New Zealand No 1 Kyle Macdonald when approached by the Otago Daily Times shortly before last night's final.

The pair last met "about five years" ago and Macdonald was a comfortable winner on that occasion.

"I was as surprised as anyone," Davis said.

"He beat me 15-7 last time, so I was expecting something similar."

Davis was stumped when asked how he managed to turn the tables on Macdonald.

"I just had a few little things which I knew he could take advantage of and I tried not to do those. Everything else just fell into place somehow."

The 1.98m Cantabrian used his reach advantage to lean in and strike his opponent and quickly built an unassailable lead. In 15 years of fencing, Davis' best result was a third equal at the nationals about 10 years ago.

But it was a weak field that year, he said, adding this was his best result to date.

Davis' upset win left the championship wide open.

His opponent in the final was experienced campaigner Graham Payne, who also spoke briefly to the Otago Daily Times before yesterday's duel.

"I've had a lot of second and thirds", the 56-year-old left-hander said, adding he hoped his experience and agility would help address in imbalance.

And so it proved. In a keenly-fought contest, Payne prevailed 15-14.

The final of the women's foil proved to be one-way traffic, with Commonwealth No 1 Yuan Ping thrashing Sally McCance 15-0.

In the women's sabre final, Hannah Ramsay beat Nancy Liu 15-11.

On Saturday, Francoise Herren beat Liu 15-12 in the women's epee final.

The men's sabre final was a tight battle between Luke Robertson and Luke Crozier with Robertson edging his opponent 15-14.

The men's foil proved just as entertaining with Arthur Gatland beating Hamish Clarke 15-14.

The championships conclude with the team events today.


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