Hucclecote were always going to be up against a tough challenge in their match against Bath who were fielding ex Hucclecote and England International GA Pam Cookey after England had given permission for Cookey to gain court time after missing the recent test in NZ and Australia due to work commitments. Paired with her Super League Team mate for the last two seasons, Hucclecote knew the would need to work hard to keep this duo away from the goal post.
It was Hucclecote’s own poor standards however that let them down in the first 5 minutes as they made poor decisions and gave away 6 unforced errors from mid court into the attacking third. This had a knock on effect as Bath were on song, and they converted goal after goal in the first 5 minutes leaving Hucclecote standing and having little opportunity as the ball just never reached the shooting circle. By comparison Cookey was on fire and netted 9 out of 9 attempts, and with her Super League Shooting Partner Asha Tett in at GS netting 6/8, Hucclecote defence worked tireslessly to contain them although their superiority in conversion rates showed.
When Hucclecote did get ball to the shooters, both Beveridge and Brennan scored well, it was just the lack of opportunity and frantic play that Hucclecote needed to control. Down by 15-8 at quarter time, changes were made with Laura Smith taking Nic James bib at WA and Kerry Walsh taking the Centre bib to add some control .This she did well , and produced a great performance as well as turning over 2 balls. Brennan took the WA role on superbly and added the control and
Vision needed to create further opportunities for her team mates.
The second quarter saw a much improved performance with Sam Perry at GD clearing 3 clean intercepts, and taking control at the back with Pretorius reducing Baths attempts to 13 from 17 in the first quarter. However the attempts through to goal were still not sufficient for Hucclecote to close the gap and although this was a much better performance, Hucclecote lost the quarter by a just 2 goals leaving the score at 27-18 down at half time.
Youngster Lydia Hallbrook took on the GS bib at half time with Beveridge and Brennan moving up the unit to GA and WA respectively. This created the opportunities that Hucclecote needed and with some great play through court, Hucclecote kept on clawing back at the lead and at one stage closed it to within 3 goals before Bath went on a counter attack which helped them take the lead back to the 7 goals again. Hallbrook and Beveridge played well, and Beveridge also stole two balls through mid court from the opposition. This quarter saw some moments of brilliant play and with Bath’s changes of McKinley to GS replacing Tett who moved to WA saw Hucclecote reduce Baths shooting opportunities once more to 13 . By comparison Hucclecotes opportunities had increased to 16 goals with Hallbrook netting confidentially and scoring 9/12 in this period.
The back trio which included Captain Jack Gabriel playing at WD, Perry and Pretorius saw them work throughout to contain a strong Bath attacking line up, and whilst Hucclecote did have numerous occasions to take the ball to goal, too many errors let them down and combined with tired legs Hucclecote found it difficult to penetrate the circle edge.
Whilst the final whistle saw them lose by 9 goals, 47 – 38, Hucclecote’s second half performance was encouraging as they had managed to draw during this 30 minute period and need to take credit for making that happen. Hucclecote just need to focus on reducing their error rate through court in order to start converting these close losses into wins. With Bath potentially minus Pam Cookey on the return match, Hucclecote will go back to the drawing board to work on taking care of the ball, as the return match is certainly one they know they can win.
Squad:- O Beveridge, N. Brennan, N. James, L. Smith. J Gabriel (Capt), S. Perry (Player of the Match) R. Pretorius, K. Walsh, (Half Time Sub) L. Hallbrook (Half Time Sub) , M. Iffil, H. Thompson, H. Jeavons,
Bench: Coach Gilly Salter, Assistant Coach, Carl Hallbrook , Sue Wainwrigh Team Manager, Jo Lambert Physio, Barb Warburton Scorer with Les Thomas.