England take bronze at the European Championships on Slovenia's River Sava

It’s not often that Drennan Team England miss a trick, but manager Mark mDownes thinks they did just that at these championships, costing them gold.

All week the team had dominated practice, so much so that their main rivals had admitted they couldn’t be beaten ¬ but confidence plummeted as the river ran clear and team plans and weights took a tumble, leaving them with a lot of work to do on Day 2.

After much soul-searching on Saturday night, England returned to find the river back in coloured condition and the race for a medal was back on. A stunning 12 points saw them win the day comfortably and power back up the list into third a mere 1.5 points behind Belgium in second and eight points shy of the winning Hungarian outfit.

“It’s annoying when you practise all week and have got things off to such a fine art that you get caught out by something like that,” Mark said. “We mixed our groundbait up in E section on Saturday morning and the river was still coloured, but what we didn’t know was that at the other end of the length it was starting to clear.”

That clear water rendered England’s short-pole small-fish approach defunct as more and more big fish showed further out. The men in those early sections struggled and the damage was done, despite Steve Hemingray’s section win.

“This sort of thing does happen ¬ we had it in Italy on the Euros a couple of years ago and you can’t always have the rub of the green,” Mark added.

“Bronze is a great recovery, but we didn’t see the change coming. Even on Friday night the river was chocolate and there was a huge thunderstorm overnight. It’s strange, but you learn from these sorts of things!”

England’s plan was to fish at 6m for roach and vimba using bloodworm under rigs between 2g and 4g, feeding small regular balls of Sensas Gros Gardons, Lake and Terre de Riviere packed with joker, dead maggots and dead pinkies, upping those rigs to a 10g flat float for the faster water out at 11m.

For Steve Hemingray, his golden weekend kicked off on C section where he had planned to fish short, but with the river on the clear side he had to move further out to 11m, fishing a 2g float and feeding a small ball of groundbait packed with joker, dead pinkies and dead maggots. Vimba and roach responded, with 64 fish giving him the section by over 800g.

Day 2 put the Daiwa Dorking star on D section, and with the river back to normal he had aimed to fish at 6m, but just minutes after the baiting whistle the river stopped flowing. Adding an extra section, Steve soon found the fish and enjoyed a busy match, fishing a 2.5g rig over groundbait to catch 126 little fish for 5-930 and the title.

“It’s a team event, so first job is to win the section I suppose,” Steve said.

“If the river had been coloured all weekend we’d have won it ¬ no doubt about that - so we were pretty pleased to see it coloured on Sunday morning after the condition it was in 24 hours earlier!”

1 Hungary, 27pts
2 Belgium, 33pts
3 Drennan Team England, 35.5pts
4 Holland, 44pts
5 Italy, 45pts
6 Russia, 53pts
7 France, 59pts
8 Poland, 63pts
9 Portugal, 64.5pts
10 Luxembourg, 65pts
11 Germany, 65pts
12 Shimano Team Wales, 66pts
13 Czech Republic, 67.5pts
14 Croatia, 72pts
15 Slovenia, 72pts

1 S Hemingray, Drennan Team England, 2pts
2 J Varga, Hungary, 3pts (14-450)
3 R Stronck, Luxembourg, 3pts (13-520)
4 G Sorti, Italy, 3pts (12-870)
5 J Konopasek, Czech Republic, 3pts (10-130)
6 S Altena, Holland, 4pts