Even without the departed world stars Niklas Landin and Sander Sagosen, THW Kiel won the Handball Supercup and set a special win record.

The German champions defeated the cup winners Rhein-Neckar Löwen 4:3 in the seven-meter throw and were the first team in the 30-year history of the competition to celebrate their fourth triumph in a row. After 60 minutes it was 33:33 (16:16).

In front of 9620 spectators, backcourt player Harald Reinkind and circle runner Patrick Wiencek were the best throwers for the Kiel team with eight goals each, who had to do without four injured supports. In addition to defender Hendrik Pekeler and backcourt player Steffen Weinhold, new signings Vincent Gérard and Eduardo Gurbindo were also absent.

The most successful lion shooters were pivot Jannik Kohlbacher with seven goals and right winger Patrick Groetzki (6). But the outstanding man was goalkeeper David Späth. The U21 world champion put on a world-class performance between the posts.

In a balanced initial phase, none of the rivals was able to break away. Kiel submitted, the lions equalized. That’s how it went until 9:9. But then the Mannheimers made a few mistakes, so that the THW pulled away with a 4:0 run within a good four minutes.

Goalkeeper Tomas Mrkva played a significant part in this. The 34-year-old, who forms the Kiel goalkeeper duo with Frenchman Gérard this season, made a number of brilliant saves during this phase and advanced to the match winner in a dramatic seven-metre throw with two saved balls.

Open exchange of blows

As the season progressed, however, his opponent Späth, who became world champion with the German U21 selection in the summer, also found his form more and more. A minute before the break, the cup winner equalized again to make it 16:16.

After the change, the open exchange of blows continued. Kiel primarily sought success from the backcourt or over the circle. As usual, a lot went through director Juri Knorr for the lions, who, however, developed little goal danger from the game. Instead, Kohlbacher and Groetzki were constant trouble spots.

The two goalkeepers, who continued to come up with a number of brilliant deeds and fought a high-class long-distance duel, remained influential figures on the floor. In the middle of the second half the game was still open at 25:25 – and remained so until the dramatic final phase.

In the last minute, the events rolled over again. First the second lion keeper Joel Birlehm defused a seven-meter throw from Reinkind, then Knorr failed with a penalty throw to Mrkva. At the end, the THW cheered.