It’s been a good few years since I used to regularly watch my younger daughter Rebecca playing county junior and club netball. I used to love going along to see her play, and with my local club, Grangetown, having kindly let me make what was simultaneously my debut and farewell appearance a few weeks ago, today was my chance to go along to cheer on their Premier squad who were in action against Bristol-based Premier Romans.
Before I continue, whilst I know many of the rules (in theory at least), I am far from a netball expert – as those who saw me on court will testify – but I’ve played a lot of sport down the years, and I hope that those who know far more than me won’t mind me sharing my thoughts.
The Grangetown girls actually got off to a perfect start, scoring three times without reply. However the momentum seemed to change when a shooting chance was refused in favour of a pass that was intercepted... the visitors went down the other end of the court, scored, and quickly went into a lead they would never relinquish.
The 11-4 scoreline at quarter time didn’t really reflect the Grangetown performance. The main difference was that the Romans’ shooters were in fine form - especially the Goal Attack who never really looked like missing – whereas things just weren’t running for the home attackers. But as the visitors extended their lead, Grangetown seemed (to me) to start trying to chase the game a bit; passes were forced, possession lost, and shooting opportunities squandered.
The Romans built on their advantage in the second period, although Grangetown’s shooting success also improved (it was 26-12 at half-time). What was noticeable was that most of the 50/50 calls seemed to against Grangetown, and every bounce, ricochet or rebound started to favour the visitors: so often the case when one team is in the ascendancy in any sport.
The Bristol side continued to look dangerous in the third period. Their Goal Attack was probably their most accomplished player on court, but they had a lightning quick Wing Attack and a commanding Goal Defence as well. However the visitors’ Goal Shooter, who had looked particularly strong, was marked out of the almost the whole third quarter by Katie Walton, who had joined the game at half time. To my untrained eye, the attacker looked almost intimidated, and her shooting ability deserted her completely for those fifteen minutes.
Equally as impressive was the girls’ fourth quarter performance. With the game gone, it would have been easy to succumb to fatigue, but the whole Grangetown side showed real character and determination to lose the quarter by just a couple of goals. Faye Summerhill returned to the fray and was able to capitalise on the team’s efforts with a number of goals in what was offensively Grangetown’s best period of the game.
The final score was 48-27. You couldn’t argue with the result, the Romans are a very good side, that played with pace, strength and skill, but there’s an awful lot of ability in the Grangetown squad too. And remembering what I could be like on a cricket field, I was really impressed at how the girls never let their heads drop – especially when decisions and the bounce of the ball seemed to go against them.
I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the game – and I’ll definitely be back to see how the girls’ season progresses.
Man of the Match (if I’m allowed to pick one...) – Katie Walton.