Grangetown’s final home fixture in Prem 1 ended in a 50-68 defeat at the hands of Viper 10 Blades.
The Blades went into the game in third position, one place and six points ahead of a Grangetown side that had lost just once in six games, but were missing influential wing defence Claudia Heath through injury, and Ash Neal, Brie Grierson and Tuaine Keenan due to Super League commitments.
Viper 10 Blades were without a couple of players who had featured for Surrey Storm the previous evening, but travelled north having produced one of the results of the season to defeat New Cambell in their most recent away game.
Grangetown Head coach Gel Williams was able to hand a first start to Ireland international Fran Duffy, and she was the pick of a Grangetown side that produced a battling performance, but were beaten by a well-organised Blades squad that capitalised on any errors and shot confidently and accurately throughout the game.
Jenny Mrozik and Hannah Raine played from the start and both made telling contributions, as did Sophie McFarlane and Nicole Malloy when brought on from the bench.
It is a hard task for a Premier League coach to guarantee consistent opportunities and regular court time, but it says a lot about the depth and spirit within this Grangetown squad that every player can make a positive impact whenever a chance is presented.
Grangetown’s home campaign ended with five wins and four defeats, but after a season-opening loss against a strong Academy side, the only teams to have travelled to Grangetown and won are the three above them in the table: Oldham, New Cambell and Viper 10 Blades.
To those five home wins, Grangetown have added a further four on their travels. With three further away games still to be played, there is a possibility that the club’s away record could match the results at home, which would a rare and notable achievement at this level.
Vicky Rees and Ria Small, captain and vice-captain respectively, have set the highest standards and led by example all season. They will have their sights set on a top-five finish, but whatever happens between now and the end of the campaign, Grangetown have exceeded all expectations and enjoyed an outstanding debut year in the top flight of English club netball.
All photos by Sarah Raine