I’m AT Match Editor Richard Grange and over the next few days I’ll be reporting from this years World Championships in Italy as Drennan Team England go in search of yet more glory on foreign soil.

Saturday September 6, Canal Navigable, Spinadesco

Day one of the World Championships

Mark Downes is beaming from ear to ear clutching a scrap of paper that tells the story of World Champs day one – Drennan Team England’s dominance.

Scoring an amazing 22 points, the lads have put themselves 16 clear of San Marino and 31 ahead of the Czechs in third – but the surprises haven’t stopped there! Italy, a no brainer for the title many thought find themselves in eighth, level with of all teams, perennial World Champs whipping boys South Africa.

France fared even worse with a 108 point score that puts them miles away from any respectability and Daiwa Scotland supplied more British success with fifth spot overall – as Downesey said, it’s a funny venue and anything can happen.

“I’m flabbergasted that we’ve won let alone scored such a low tally,” Mark said. “With an hour to go we were looking at an average finish but the lads have turned in a blinding performance to catch late. Sean Ashby, Alan Scotthorne and Steve Gardener have all pulled it out of the bag while William and Des have caught early and kept the pressure on all day.”

Of that 22 point tally, William earned a section win after a ding dong battle with Italian Gianluigi Sorti next door while Des took second in his section with the help of a couple of 1.5kg asp taken on England’s sec ret method of fishing short on the canal’s marginal slope.

Sean enjoyed a late run of fish to haul himself into eighth, Alan scoring similarly and rueing the loss of two large carp, one of which snapped 0.16mm line – any one of those fish would have won him the section and put the team even further ahead.

Steve Gardener though, perhaps turned in performance of the day in E section. On a peg that produced just grams the day before, Steve, in his 21st World Champs, weighed in over 7 kilos to take third in section, 80% of that weight coming from his short line in the closing stages.

“My only worry now is that everyone will cotton onto that short line and fish it tomorrow,” Mark said. “The fish are there though and we’ll certainly be using it. A more pressing issue is the lack of fish we caught long. There’s an issue there somewhere with feeding that we’ll sort out in tonight’s meeting but you can’t talk negatives after a performance like that – it was just awesome.”

For the first time all week the canal had a strong wind blowing down it and that ruled out the waggler and also made fishing long difficult to achieve decent presentation.

“That played into our hands a bit as it made the shorter line the only place to present a bait properly,” Mark continued. “The wind also meant that bad anglers caught fish because they were fishing heavier floats – in fact doing everything opposite to our approach. However, I’m scratching my head at the moment thinking about what to change as every angler out there has turned in the best performance I’ve ever seen from them in an England shirt.”

“We won’t go celebrating just yet though because it is easy enough to claw points back on a venue like this,” he warned. “It’s only half time but we are exactly where we want to be. We had half a draw today and vastly exceeded expectations so hopefully we’ll have more of the same tomorrow. I can honestly say I don’t know who to drop tomorrow – why should you change a team that’s turned in that sort of performance?”

So what happened to Italy? Did the peginess of the venue take its toll or did the windy conditions catch them out? Either way, excuses should be hard to come by in the home camp this evening. To be level with South Africa is nothing to shout about and the hosts will need a cracking draw and to have their anglers firing on all cylinders to even get on the podium.

England are in a more comfortable position and individual medals may even be in the offing with William Raison showing just why he is considered one of the best in the world with a section and outright match win in B section.

Drawing peg 18 in front of the massive metal works on the banks of the canal, William weighed in 13-270 to edge out Italian Sorti on the next peg and the Hungarian angler to his right. Drawing an area with fish helps of course but they still need catching and there are few better than William.

Fishing double maggot slightly overdepth at 13m, William caught bigger fish early on, including carp to 5lb and carrassio to 2lb and was neck and neck with Sorti. As the bigger fish faded, smaller carp and carrassio averaging 10oz became the targets and William really turned up the heat to pull away and out himself in with a shout tomorrow. His Dorking team mates Des Shipp and Steve Gardener might also be in contention with two and three points respectively.

And what about Daiwa Scotland? Fifth place – that wasn’t supposed to happen was it? According to their man Jamie Masson, they should have finished a little big higher up.

“We fished as we have all week and it’s worked out really well,” he said. “To come to a venue like this, fishing this way when it is so peggy and have that result is brilliant. We’ve well within striking distance of bronze and I think the points between us and San Marino in second is catchable in just one section. We know we’ve got that performance in us.”

The news wasn’t quite as good for Shimano Team Wales, who would have been looking to build on fourth spot last year. They ended up in sixteenth spot on 84 points but like Jamie, Welsh boss Eric Humphreys knows a lot of points can be made up on this venue.

“Twenty less points would have got us in the top six and that’s perfectly gettable,” he said. “We’ve had some good results but a couple of bad ones so we’ll go away, have a meeting and iron out the issues. If we can get top ten I’ll be satisfied, top five and I’ll be delighted.”

Tubertini Ireland also suffered a day to forget, finishing 25th just behind France, despite the best efforts of Willie Wheeler who turned in a fine performance in A section. With 109 points, catching up will be hard and respectability will be their mission for Sunday.

How did they do?

England’s scores and the pegs they had them off:
A section: Sean Ashby, peg 32 – 5KG 470GR – eighth in section
B section: William Raison, peg 18 – 13KG 270GR – first in section
C section: Alan Scotthorne, peg 25 – 4KG 170GR – eighth in section
D section: Des Shipp, peg 9 – 7KG 450GR – second in section
E section: Steve Gardener, peg 3 – 7KG 510GR – third in section

For a complete listing of the overall resutls for day one, click HERE.