Netball firsts conquer Newcastle to ease relegation nerves

York’s impressive 35-28 win against Newcastle thirds on Wednesday lifted them off the foot of BUCS League 4B

Photograph by Peter Iveson

Photograph by Peter Iveson

UNIVERSITY OF YORK FIRSTS 35
UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE THIRDS 28

BUCS League 4B – Wednesday 9th December

A storming performance earned York’s netball firsts a second BUCS League win of the season and eased their niggling relegation worries on Wednesday afternoon. The 35-28 win over Newcastle lifts the team from the bottom of the table and was built on a lightning-fast opening quarter, which left the North-East visitors with too much to do.

There were a number of virtuoso displays: Kay Masterson was exceptional at Goal Shooter, her height utilised to great effect during build-up play and her shooting infallible. It was testament to her superb form that she was reintroduced into the heat of the action during the fourth quarter, following a brief cameo from Claire Dinan. In defence, Jenni Williams, voted woman-of-the-match by her teammates, also shone – her defensive lean forcing mistakes from the Newcastle shooters time after time.

Club President Liz Cowell accredited the victory to confidence gained from Saturday’s thrilling 31-30 success against Durham University firsts, who compete three BUCS Leagues above York, in the Northern Universities Netball League. The sight of dumbstruck Durham players, silenced by the unfamiliar sensation of defeat, at the final whistle obviously inspired the team on to further glory here.

With four fixtures remaining in the New Year, York’s three point cushion from Northumbria and superior points difference leaves them on the brink of safety, though a couple more wins are needed to make absolutely certain. The away fixture with Northumbria on February 17th looks set to be pivotal.

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Kay Masterson, with the ball, was in excellent form on Wednesday, contributing the bulk of York’s points. Photograph by Peter Iveson.

As though still riding on the momentum of Saturday’s unexpected triumph, York stormed out of the blocks here, rapidly constructing a useful lead. Masterson was quickly into her rhythm, sinking several early efforts, and capitalising on the mistakes made by the Newcastle defence. In the middle third, Cesca Dessain was flying around as standard, linking telepathically with Centre Becki O’Dwyer to feed the shooters.

Newcastle, who had beaten York in the return fixture last week, struggled to gain a foothold in the game, committed stupid errors and left plenty of space for their opponents to exploit – little wonder the home side ended the first quarter 12-6 up.

The second quarter followed the same pattern, though Newcastle matched York point-for-point. Whenever in possession, York’s attacking excellence continued, the ball frequently being intercepted by O’Dwyer or Sarah Smith in the middle and hustled to Masterson or Goal Attack Sarah Fisher in an instant. The shooters had confidence to attempt shots from long range, eliminating the need to over-elaborate in moves around the goal circle.

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Goal Attack Sarah Fisher scored points at crucial junctures in the tight final quarter to secure York’s 35-28 victory. Photograph by Peter Iveson.

Entering the second-half with a healthy six-point advantage, York had to guard against complacency as Newcastle sought a route back into contention. The energetic Dinan found plenty of space in which to operate as Newcastle’s build-up continued to be staid and predictable. Their cause wasn’t helped by an injured player, though York showed little remorse and continued to boss proceedings, entering the final 15 minutes ahead by 24-18.

All York needed to do was maintain their composure, but a shaky five minute spell almost let Newcastle back into the game as they chipped the lead down to a flimsy three points. However, with Masterson back in the game, the attacking threat was always there and crucial scores in the last few minutes from the Goal Shooter and Fisher settled the contest.

This was a game York needed to win and they passed the test with flying colours. Harnessing the optimism generated by Saturday’s result, they delivered a sparkling attacking display and combined it with defensive resilience, forcing Newcastle’s attack to crumble again and again. In fact, all things considered, you had to wonder why they were bottom of the league in the first place.

York Line-up: GK – Jenni Williams, GD – Grace Marsden, WD – Sarah Smith, C – Becky O’Dwyer (Liz Cowell), WA – Cesca Dessain, GA – Sarah Fisher (c), GS – Kay Masterson (Claire Dinan)

Woman-of-the-match: Jenni Williams

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