Grangetown Netball Club faced the London-based Cumberland in a crucial Mizuno Premier League 3 clash today.
The teams went into the fixture in second and third place respectively, separated by just one point and with identical records of seven wins and five defeats from their twelve league matches.
Grangetown coach Gel Williams was able to call on the services of Team Northumbria’s Jaydene Robinson and Brie Grierson; Ireland defender Gen Slater was also available, and the twelve-strong squad captained by Vicky Rees included no less than eight players aged under 21.
Abbie le Brocq opened the scoring, but the visitors had much the better of the opening quarter. Grangetown lost possession from their second centre pass, and Cumberland took full advantage to take the lead. A tremendous interception from goal keeper Em Donovan offered Cumberland the opportunity to go further in front, and their starting seven looked a yard quicker right across the court in the early stages.
Katie Walton, the second of Grangetown’s two Ireland internationals, claimed a rebound to secure the possession from which Ria Small and Brie Grierson set up Abbie le Brocq. Another good feed into the circle from Brie at goal attack allowed Abbie to reduce the arrears to a single goal, but the visitors responded with five unanswered goals, as Grangetown made a series of unforced errors.
Good movement from Abbie attracted the attention of both Cumberland defenders, leaving Brie free inside the circle to get Grangetown back on the scoresheet. The home side continued to be wasteful with possession, but fought tenaciously to regain lost ball, and ended the period with two further goals, Abbie’s excellent long shot right on the hooter leaving Grangetown just three goals adrift.
The second quarter got off to a scrappy start, with Abbie finally breaking the deadlock after almost four minutes when she netted from what was Grangetown’s fifth set of possession.
Soon after, Cumberland were penalised from their centre pass, and Grangetown levelled the scores, only to relinquish the ball from their own centre pass. A three-second infringement handed possession back to the hosts; Vicky Rees somehow managed to retain enough balance at the edge of the court to find Jaydene Robinson with a superb pass, Jaydene fed her Team Northumbria team mate Brie, who set up Abbie to put Grangetown in front for the first time since the game’s opening goal.
Cumberland maintained their pressure though, and had plenty of possession thanks to a combination of some well-timed interceptions and several missed attempts from the Grangetown shooters. However, Katie Walton and Gen Slater were making life just as difficult for the opposing shooters, turning over possession on four occasions in the closing minutes of the half.
Ria Small produced a couple of telling passes, which were duly converted, but whenever Grangetown took the lead, their advantage was almost immediately cancelled out, and the teams were locked at 18-18 at half time.
Gel Williams brought on Tasha Grylls at goal attack, with Brie Grierson switching to wing attack and Jaydene Robinson to centre, and the new combination made an instant impact, with Tasha taking a great catch under pressure and finding the net, either side of two more goals for Abbie.
The momentum was halted by yet another fine interception from Em Donovan, but the home side steadily began to assert themselves, and the youthful attacking quartet showed some excellent handling skills; Abbie superbly held onto a bullet pass from Brie and scored at the second attempt to widen the gap to four goals. That advantage was quickly increased to eight, but Cumberland closed the quarter with three goals of their own, and at 30-25, the result was still very much in the balance going into the final fifteen minutes.
Jaydene picked off a pass deep in her defensive third, and quickly fed the ball down the Grangetown left for Brie to set up Abbie for a shot from under the post. A series of goals against the centre pass then followed, but Grangetown were able to retain their composure and gradually draw away from a very competitive Cumberland side.
Jaydene was now dominating the edge of the attacking circle and with Vicky, Katie and Gen all doing some great work to keep turning over possession, the advantage reached double figures. Abbie netted the game’s final goal, to give Grangetown a hard-fought, well-earned and hugely important victory—the final score being 42-31.
Much of the game was played at a frenetic pace, and this may have led to the number of errors made by both sides. That said there was some tremendous skill on show; it was a hugely entertaining game, played in an excellent spirit between two very good teams. Em Donovan produced a fine performance for the visitors, but it was Jaydene Robinson who was deservedly named as the Mizuno Player of the Match.