It was a Magnificent 7 effort today, that secured their future to go to play offs in April to retain their Division One status. Against all odds and with 5 of their regular players missing for this re-arranged fixture against The Downs, the starting line up was bare. Hucclecote had just 7 players at the start and the line up included, Gemma Gray, Flo Edwards, Olivia Beveridge, Sarah Adams, Lauren Brooks, Jack Gabriel (Capt) and Sam Cook. With their 8th player not arriving, Hucclecote called in the services of Kim Will, who kindly arrived just after the whistle had gone to secure a squad player on the bench giving confidence to the team that this was covered.

Hucclecote, who have battled on all season producing performances that have seen them have very close encounters, started more positively, and throughout the first quarter saw them take a 3 goal lead with defence captain Jack Gabriel in powerful mode. The second quarter saw Cote extend it to an 8 goal lead before The Downs struck back and fired a succession of goals in to claw it back to the same 3 goals difference 19-16 at half time.

It was Hucclecote’s 2nd half that saw them excel, and with Flo Edward’s showing great composure against England U.21 Silver Medalist Hannah Reid, and with Beveridge playing some creative netball and supporting the circle edge well, Cote began to pull away. Sarah Adams on her return to premiership following the birth of her daughter, had a great game, and played a strong supporting role linking defence through to attack. Hucclecote’s assertive drive in this period enabled Gray to dominate and she certainly got her eye in confidently netting 10 from 13 in this quarter helping Cote to a positive 34-22 lead at the end of 45 minutes play.

Cote’s target was to produce a consistent performance for 60 minutes , and with a 12 goal lead they knew they needed to stay focussed. The Downs who had the same squad as the previous encounter struggled in all areas of court as Cote kept the pressure on.

Hucclecote’s defence unit was slick, and Sam Cook, whose knowledge and understanding at the back has just come on heaps, took authority in all she did as she had an outstanding game stealing 15 balls from either interceptions or missed shots. Combined with ex International Jack Gabriel also taking flyers , The Downs just failed to penetrate and when they did conversions were less than 50% and restricted to just 37 attempts overall .

Youngster Lauren Brooks also stepped up to the challenge and showed some great dynamic movement through court and gave some fabulous quick release balls securing plenty of opportunities for the shooters .

When the final whistle went, Hucclecote’s tally of goals had secured victory and a place through to the finals play off by 47 goals to 26. This is their largest victory of the season so far and will certainly give them the boost that was needed to take them into next weeks game against Thorobreds. Player of the match for a stunning performance was awarded to Sam Cook.

Thanks to all supporters on the day, and to the table and scorers (Barb Warburton & Lesley Thomas) and the Hucclecote Bench for great support.

Squad:- Gemma Gray, Flo Edwards, Olivia Beveridge, Lauren Brooks, Sarah Adams, Jack Gabriel (Capt), Sam Cook and Kim Will.

Coaching Team: Gilly Salter & Carl Hallbrook

Team Manager: Sue Wainwright

Physio : Jo Lambert