UNIVERSITY OF YORK FIRSTS 43
UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD SECONDS 23
BUCS League 4B – Wednesday 24th February
The old sporting adage ‘too good to go down’ is often trotted out in a futile attempt to save face and reputation. In the case of the netball firsts, however, it is absolutely on the money.
They battered Sheffield University, a team who have won twice as many league matches as them this season, this afternoon with an exhibition of attacking netball, the 20-point margin of victory telling you everything you need to know about this encounter.
When Sarah Fisher hobbled off the court five minutes into the second quarter, many suspected that York’s chance to lift themselves off the bottom of League 4B has passed. Fortunately, they had a ready-made replacement on the sidelines in Kay Masterson who stepped into the breach and, in tandem with the irrepressible Claire Dinan, produced a compelling shooting display.
And how important those 43 baskets might prove in the context of the season’s business end. With Newcastle University thirds, the side immediately above them, having a day off it was imperative that York gained something in the Tent, a venue which mysteriously seems to bring out the best in them. They duly delivered, and the boost to their points difference, which was already superior to Newcastle’s, definitely gives York the all-important psychological advantage at this crunch time.
The thought of playing their netball in League 5B next season serving as the best form of pre-match motivation, York made an enterprising start with Dinan quickly establishing the fluid rhythm which tormented the Sheffield defence throughout the entire game. It’s remarkable that Cesc a Dessain has time for netball these days but she buzzed around in characteristic style, linking with the impressive Liz Cowell to produce consistently accurate feeds into the shooting zone.
Claire Dinan, York’s Goal Shooter, unleashes another attempt during today’s match. She contributed the bulk of her team’s points in the 43-23 success. Photograph by Peter Iveson.
Sheffield’s conversion rate was equally good during the opening quarter as they took advantage of occasional York infringements to register five points. Their lively start made it impossible to imagine that the initial 15 would be by far the busiest Jenni Williams and Sarah Smith, the home Goal Keeper and Goal Defence respectively, would experience all afternoon.
Dinan’s flawless shooting had extended York’s lead early in the second before her partner Fisher crumpled to the floor clutching her knee. As she nursed the injury on the sidelines, Masterson immediately attuned to the flow of the match, which was becoming increasingly one-directional. After missing with a couple of early sighters, the substitute found her range and her points stretched the score to 19-12 at half-time.
The visiting defence struggled to contain the fluid movements stemming from the York midfield and, when the ball bobbled loose off the hoop, rarely won the battle for the rebound. Masterson’s height was key in this regard, with at least one option instantly available for the offload in a dangerous position.
Cesca Dessain takes on defensive duties as she attempts to block Sheffield out in this afternoon’s League 4B match. York have two matches remaining to preserve their status in this division. Photograph by Peter Iveson.
The third quarter emphasised these points as York gradually, assuredly wore their promotion-chasing opponents down. By the end of this part of the game, they were pretty much assured of victory and, playing with a smile and an exuberance which defied their poor record this season, concentrated on boosting their points tally with relentless enthusiasm.
Dinan’s shots in the final stages seemed to loop in from ever-increasing distances, with Masterson complimenting this impudence with deadly short-range finishing. York won the fourth 14-5 as their opponents, by this point well-beaten and knowing it, resorted to an unnecessarily physical approach which, in handing York’s defenders possession, only heightened their frustration.
The shooters excelled in what was, by the end, a routine win but every facet of York’s game seemed well-polished today, leaving the small knot of boisterous spectators searching for an answer to the quandary of why they haven’t replicated this form week-in, week-out. With two games remaining to ensure their survival, not to mention Sunday’s Varsity clash with St. John, today’s result and performance couldn’t have come at a better time.
York Line-up: GK – Jenni Williams, GD – Sarah Smith, WD – Becki O’Dwyer, C – Liz Cowell, WA – Cesca Dessain, GA – Sarah Fisher (Kay Masterson), GS – Claire Dinan