Hucclecote Netball Club vrs The Downs 25th September 2011. Hucclecote 44 – The Downs 42
Hucclecote went into their second fixture of the season knowing that a win was needed to give the team a boost after their initial loss to Leeds.
The team arrived in Twickenham at St Mary College in their brand new sports complex, a fantastic facility in which to play against the Downs. Hucclecote arrived early with plenty of time to acclimatise and warm-up. The squad were missing Nicola James and Rosie Pretorius both of whom were playing for Wales this weekend. However the squad included Sam Cook, Jack Gabriel, Michaela Iffil, Kerry Walsh, Hannah Thompson, Laura Smith, Neala Brennan, Gemma Gray and Liv Beveridge.
Hucclecote started strongly in the first quarter at one point taking a 5 goal lead, The Downs responded well and reduced the lead to just 2 goals by the end of the first quarter. At times Hucclecote were playing such a fast fluid game that the opposition were unable to stop them and with some consistent shooting at the end of the first Quarter saw a 12-10 lead. Gemma Gray and Liv Beveridge shooting accurately throughout the first quarter.
A lack of consistency by Hucclecote with The Downs attacking the circle, saw a more evenly contested 2nd quarter. The Downs shooters were taking strong circle positions and their WA and C were finding the shooter too easily at times. Half time saw the teams level with Hucclecote having periods of great play, but being unable to sustain this quality to push home an advantage and take full control of the game. What Hucclecote did show was a strong sense of determination and grit with their defence and The Downs were having to fight in all areas of the court. Michaela Iffil put pressure on WA showing a great work rate.
The players were hoping to show more consistency and take hold of the third quarter; The Downs however had other plans and changed their shooter; opting for a holding shooter as opposed to the moving shooter previously employed. Hucclecote were still shooting well with both Liv Beveridge and Gemma Gray showing good shooting percentages and ensuring that the game was fiercely contested. Kerry Walsh went to C and worked well with Neala Brennan, who was driving onto the circle and holding her space with determination, this allowed a better feed into the shooters who were having to work hard against a tough defensive duo. The Downs showed more consistency than Hucclecote during the third quarter and turned the game in their favour taking a three goal lead into the final quarter.
The Downs supporters were sure that their team had turned the game and were going to stretch their lead and win the game. Hucclecote had other ideas. Jack Gabriel took the game by the scruff of the neck and dominated the centre third in attack whilst playing a tireless and dogged defence. Laura Smith came back on as C and with Neala Brennan drove with determination into the attacking third putting some great ball into our shooters. Sam Cook who had been surprisingly quiet during the first three quarters sprang into life taking three clean intercepts. Hucclecote pulled the lead back, levelling the game and relishing the battle ahead. The Hucclecote shooters who had been shooting great percentages through the first three quarters decided to make it interesting missing a few shots to give the opposition some hope. What was impressive though, was that when the shots really mattered in the final quarter both stepped up to the mark hitting crucial shots and taking all hope away from The Downs. Hucclecote ran out winners 44-42. Players of the match awarded jointly to Jack Gabriel with a fantastic captains performance and Gemma Gray (81%) whose shooting accuracy and team play was superb.
Squad: L. Beveridge (60%) , G. Gray (81%), N. Brennan, L. Smith, K. Walsh, M. Iffil, H. Thompson, J. Gabriel (Capt), S. Cook
Team Bench:- C. Hallbrook (Coach) S. Wainwright (Team Manager) Mrs. Brennan (Scorer)