Hucclecote's contention for the Regional 1 title came to halt today even though they led by a 6 goal lead going into the final 15 minutes. Hucclecote Players and Bench Staff were gutted knowing the title opportunity had gone.
This top of the table clash was always going to be highly contested although Hucclecote went out guns blazing in the first 15 demonstrating some swift passing through court finding shooter Gemma Hallbrook with ease. With Hallbrook converting 9/11 goals during this period, and with the attack of Sarah Lee who initiated 2 clear intercepts and forced tips, Hucclecote looked in control. Lee was well supported by Michela Iffil WA and Carly Taylor at GA all playing some fast quick release netball, giving Hucclecote a lead of 10-5 at the end of the first quarter.
Defensively the new unit of Rosie Barrett , Sam Cook and Kerry Walsh worked hard to curtail Plymouths attacking flow and they did this well getting to many tips and intercepts. Plymouth's game went up a notch and they held the 5 goal deficit during the 2nd quarter and restricted Hucclecote shooter Hallbrook to just 9 shots leaving the score at 15-10 at half time.
With Joll switching bibs with Taylor at GA for the 2nd half, Hucclecote once again found rythm with Joll netting 3/3 during this time and Hallbrook having more opportunities scoring 6/11. The third period was also enhanced with Barrett and Cook taking some wonderful clear intercepts, the most in any quarter, and combined with Walsh sticking to the task of keeping Plymouths WA off the circle area , help to restrict Plymouths attempts to just 11.
With a 6 goal advantage, and 15 minutes to play, Hucclecotes game plan of keeping possession and minimising error rate started poorly. Plymouth demonstrated hunger for every ball on court and began to force Hucclecote wide , restricting their space. As Hucclecote began to feel the pressure more errors crept in to their play allowing Plymouth to close the gap. Whilst Hucclecote began to panic even more Plymouth saw the opening and pounced on it. Plymouth took advantage of their height in their shooting circle during this quarter with Sophie Garton and Lyn Davies demonstrating great composure. The tide turned, and with Garten netting 8/8, and Davies 5/6 everything seemed to go in their favour as Hucclecote failed to take control or find the space they needed to get through their attacking third in to the shooting circle.
With both umpires taking control of a tough game, and a clash with Hucclecote's C and Plymouths WA the game stopped for injury time. Being 2 goals down at this stage Hucclecote took the possession on the re-start and took the ball to goal leaving spectators breathless. The final minutes of the game saw one or two opportunities lost for the home team , a couple of poor passes , attackers behind defenders, defenders being blown for obstruction and contact and a short pass all culminated in Plymouth taking possesion and the lead by a goal. With only 20 seconds remaining, Hucclecote attacked but ran out of time and lost the game 31-30.
It was to be fair, a highly contested game, demonstrating outstanding netball by both teams. With neutral umpires allocated who contributed well and kept control, it was the lack of discipline and not being able to take the ball to goal under huge pressure that has for sure given Plymouth the title and the opportunity to go to play-offs.
With 2 games remaining, Hucclecote still have a medal to contest and will be back on track for their fixture next week at home at Hartpury at 2.30.
Thanks to Kayleigh Garbett Roberts, Rhianna Hallbrook and Claire Richards all of whom stepped up to the bench to support Regional 1 today and to scorer Annie Cook.
Squad: G. Hallbrook, C. Taylor, A. Joll, M. Iffil, S. Lee (Capt), K. Walsh, S Cook, R. Barrett, K. G. Roberts, R. Hallbrook. C. Richards
Scorer: Annie Cook
Umpires: J Smith and Dave Stringer