Courtside Comments – Prem Round 17
The latest from the Prem league from 10th March 2019
Oldham were looking to secure their seventh title out of the last eight seasons (Academy being the other winners in that time) with a home game against fourth placed Grangetown. As to be expected with a job to do the home side got off to a flyer and assumed a 20-11 first quarter lead. They continued in the same vein in the second quarter and at half time had extended their lead to 40-20. Mid way through the third quarter conditions changed for the worse as a leaking roof caused water on the court. Step forward Head Coach Debbie Hallas with the ever reliable blue roll to clear things up. It was only temporary however as the leak continued to drip water onto the court and, following another blue roll mop up the decision was made to change courts. Once back on dry land the game continued and at the end of a rather stop start splish splash quarter the soon to be crowned Champions held a 55-32 lead. Despite Grangetown’s best efforts Oldham were on fire and they roared through the final period to claim the match 75-40. Huge congratulations to Oldham on another fantastic season. They really are the benchmark to aim for and the dedication of players, coaches, volunteers and everyone connected to the club show just what can be achieved with hard work and dedication is a fantastic example.
New Cambell were on the road to already relegated Worcester Reds knowing a victory would secure runners up spot for them. A tight first period saw Worcester lead 12-11 and the match continued to be nip and tuck throughout the second quarter, half time it was level at 24-24. In what sounds like a fantastic game the two evenly matched sides continued to trade blows and they went into the final spell all square still at 42-42. The final quarter belonged to Reds however as they edged away from New Cambell to take a surprising (on paper anyway) 61-54 win. A great boost for Worcester after a disappointing season but they have been in this position before and bounced straight back the following year. It would be a surprise not to see them pushing for that again next season. Third place Viper 10 Blades welcomed Academy to the south coast. An end to end first half saw the home side lead by one, 36-35 but the third quarter saw Blades pull away with a fantastic 21 goal haul to lead 57-43. Both sides fielded a number of young players and the fourth quarter, whilst closer, went with Blades and they emerged winners 76-58. This leaves the battle for that runners up spot open. New Cambell hold the upper hand over Blades by three points. Their final match is home to Turnford, never easy, whilst Viper 10 Blades make the trip to the West Country to face Premier Romans.
In the other games Leeds Athletic travelled to Turnford for a seventh v eighth clash. A close first half saw the home side with a two point 28-26 lead, score info courtesy of budding Sky Netball pundit Adam Fisher, ahem (a twitter joke, you have to be there J). The match continued to be a close affair but Turnford eventually came out with the victory by 60-53. Tameside entertained Premier Romans and it wasn’t an easy trip as the North West club posted a convincing 71-42 victory. Romans must be counting the days until the end of this season so they can regroup and come back strong next year, another side who have done just that in the past. It’s incredible really that after 17 matches fifth down to eighth are only separated by six points so league placings are almost certain to change in the final round of matches.
The chase for that second promotion spot took a definitive, deciding turn this weekend. Second place Cumberland played hosts to sixth place Telstars in what began as a close game with the home side leading 13-12 at the first break. Cumberland had gently extended their lead at half time 26-22 but Telstars battled away in a close third and closed the gap slightly to 36-33. Cumberland saved their best until last and a fantastic fifteen minute spell saw them take the win 56-41. This meant Linden had to win to take the tension to the final weekend where they face each other. Linden were away to Clan who have picked up some form of late especially with last weeks excellent draw away to Hucclecote. Once again Clan produced the goods and won a tight looking match 48-45 and in doing so completed a League double over Linden. So congratulations to Cumberland who will be playing Premier League 1 Netball next season, fitting for London’s biggest Netball club with thirteen senior teams and five juniors (that’s what their Twitter header says J) Sympathies to Linden who have enjoyed a great run of late but just two bad results when they least needed them have cost them. Definitely one of the teams to watch in League 2 next season I’m sure.
Seventh placed The Downs had a home match against fourth in the table Ryland and in a tight and entertaining sounding match the home side came away with the spoils, 60-56. That win secures their place in League 2, eliminating any slight doubts that they could get caught up in trouble on the last day. The rest of those lower placings are anything like clear cut however. With Clan pulling off their excellent win the pressure was on Oaksway and Essex Open. Oaksway entertained Team Bath Toucans and probably pulled out their performance of the season with a mighty 75-42 victory. Essex Open meanwhile drew the short straw with a trip to Hucclecote but they made one hell of a fight of it and only went down 52-50. That one point gained could prove vital. So the bottom of the table sees Oaksway bottom on 35 points but they have two matches to play – away to Telstars on 24 March then home to The Downs on 31 March. Ninth are Clan on 37 points and eighth are Essex Open also on 37 points but with a better goal average by 0.08 – it’s that close. The final match sees Clan at home to Essex Open. The losers of that tie are relegated. The winners could be safe but if Oaksway win both their matches then they will be safe and Clan and Essex Open both go down. It may resolve itself next week…..or it might not, Oaksway’s result will be key !!
Only one match in League 3 had nothing riding on it and it saw sixth placed TFC entertain and eventually overcome third placed Charnwood in a close and exciting encounter 42-38.
Sadly Kent County are already guaranteed bottom spot and play-off tension so a home game against high flying YWCA Bury wouldn’t have been on their most wanted list. The North West side who confirmed promotion last week ran out comfortable 64-42 winners. This didn’t keep them in with a chance of winning the league however as Sussex Thunder made it seventeen out of seventeen with a home win, albeit hard fought against Team Jets from Jersey by 57-44. That defeat keeps Jets in ninth place. Eighth in the table Billericay travelled to fourth place Leyton knowing a win would prove invaluable at this stage of the season. It was a tight, fairly low scoring affair and whilst they didn’t come away with the win they did earn a draw which would see them leapfrog Hertford Hornets if things didn’t go their way on their travels to Norfolk United. And so it turned out, Norfolk held the upper hand for virtually the whole match and despite a spirited effort in the final quarter when Hornets scores six times without reply they just couldn’t maintain that head of steam and Norfolk took the win 48-41. So what does that mean for the league table and those bids to remain out of the play-offs? Well Billericay are currently seventh and safe. They are one point ahead of Hertford Hornets BUT as regular readers will already know Hornets are home to Billericay in that final match on 24th March. It is literally winner takes all and the victors are assured of Premier League Netball next season. The only way Team Jets can save themselves is if they record a fairly big win away to TFC and hope that the Hertford v Billericay game is drawn. There have been a fair few draws in the past few weeks so while there’s a chance there is still hope in the Channel Islands albeit feint.
Roll on 24 March……