Having overcome a determined Cumberland squad the previous week, Grangetown went into the Dominoes match without Jaydene Robinson and Brie Grierson, who were both unavailable due to their Super league commitments with Team Northumbria; but Ireland defender Gen Slater travelled over from Dublin to take her place alongside fellow international Katie Walton for the opening quarter.
Dominoes scored first, before Abbie le Brocq cleverly drew a contact foul to net with her first shot of the game. The teams traded goals until a neat pass from Gen Slater to Ria Small, gave the centre the opportunity to bounce a pass to teenage goal attack Tasha Grylls, who put the home side in front for the first time.
A stroke of luck saw Grangetown extend their lead after possession was retained when an overthrown pass hit the post and ricocheted out of play off the visiting goal keeper. Dominoes recovered quickly, and a lovely long ball into the circle was converted by the goal shooter to make the score 6-4 to Grangetown.
However, a poor pass immediately gifted possession back to Grangetown, and instead of shooting, Tasha cleverly passed to Abbie who restored the three-goal advantage.
Katie Walton’s second interception of the quarter went unrewarded as the subsequent pass into the Dominoes circle was overthrown. Kate Hill at wing attack then neatly fed Tasha who calmly netted from distance.
Some excellent interplay between the visiting wing attack and shooter should have brought Dominoes to within one goal, but the shot was missed; Katie Walton grabbed the rebound, and the ball was moved quickly down court for Abbie to score the first of three quick goals. The second of those came from more good work from Dominoes, but another missed attempt was gathered by Gen; and the third came from a fortunate rebound fell to Tasha, and Abbie netted at the second attempt.
A goal right on the hooter brought the advantage back to five, and Grangetown’s 13-8 lead was a fair reflection of the balance of play in the first fifteen minutes.
Head coach Gel Williams brought on Jenny Mrozik in place of Katie Walton for the second quarter, and after an early miss from Grangetown, Dominoes made the most of the umpires missing a ball caught out of play to score against Grangetown’s centre pass.
After Jenny was on the wrong end of another incorrect call when she was ruled to have taken the ball out of play, Dominoes netted again; and a couple of minutes later after their goal attack did extremely well to hang onto a long pass, her successful shot put Dominoes into a lead that had looked so unlikely at the end of the previous period.
Abbie restored parity, then Gen’s interception saw Grangetown’s 6’2” shooter score with a long-range effort that bounced in off the front of the hoop. Tasha’s next goal, following an interception from Ria and excellent work from captain Vicky Rees opened the gap to two; but some scrappy play and a series of misses allowed the Manchester side–who went into the game six places below their hosts–to regain the lead again.
The teams were tied at 18-18 with just over a minute remaining, but three goals in those final moments, the third from a spectacular interception from Tasha, saw Grangetown leave the court with a half-time advantage that didn’t really represent how well Dominoes had played.
Hannah Raine was introduced in place of Kate Hill for the third period; some welcome court time for the sixteen-year old who has recently recovered from a knee injury.
Tasha drew a contact foul to open the scoring, before two more goals from Abbie (one from a very good feed from Hannah Raine) meant that Grangetown had scored six without reply. Dominoes quickly halved the arrears, but the next three goals again came from Grangetown, with one turnover being brilliant secured by Gen’s shot block.
At 27-21, Vicky was very unlucky not to secure possession with some great defensive play, but the visiting wing defence was equally unfortunate when she did superbly well to keep the ball in play; only for the umpire to rule she had gone out of court. She then completed an excellent interception, but Dominoes missed their subsequent shot and Abbie converted at the second attempt to maintain Grangetown’s six-goal lead.
Gen Slater brilliantly claimed possession and a lovely move down the Grangetown right freed Abbie to score against the Dominoes centre pass, but the visitors rallied and two late goals left the score at 32-26 at three-quarter time.
If there was any thought that the six-goal lead was decisive, Dominoes certainly had other ideas, and they capitalised on a string of Grangetown errors to bring the visitors to within one goal. Moments later it was 33-33, and when a telegraphed diagonal pass was easily intercepted by the goal defence, the Dominoes shooter took an impressive one-handed catch and scored the goal that put the visitors in front
With under five minutes remaining, and with the scores level, Kate Hill returned to the court in place of Hannah Raine, and her first involvement was to set up Abbie to edge Grangetown back in front. Dominoes equalised but Tasha (twice) and Abbie both found the net under intense pressure, and when Jenny Mrozik forced a shooting error to turnover possession, the victory was finally secured.
Two more goals, one each from both the Grangetown shooters, made the final score 41-36.
It was a tense, but nevertheless enjoyable game and ultimately the differences between the sides were arguably Grangetown’s superior fitness, and the fact that over recent weeks, they have simply become used to winning. The players will probably agree that this was not their best performance of the season; but this is a talented squad, Vicky Rees and her players lack nothing in belief and determination, and this hugely important win consolidates their position behind runaway leaders Sussex Thunder.
Player of the Match – Gen Slater (below)