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Courtside Comments Round 17

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Round 17 – 8 March 2020
League 1
There was a good chance that the Champions would be crowned at the conclusion of this round of matches; less certain was whether the relegation places would also be decided.

Oldham welcomed New Cambell for a match that two weeks ago looked like it would be crucial but thanks to near neighbours Tameside pulling off a tremendous 60-56 away win in the last round New Cambell’s chances of pushing Oldham all the way had gone. Only Academy were left with a small chance of taking the title from the table toppers. The visitors were not at full strength whilst the hosts had a mix of young players and experienced heads. The first quarter started closely but Oldham soon found their rhythm to lead 22-13 at the first quarter’s end. A superb second period from Oldham, they took it 23-9 left them with more than one hand on the title as they led 45-24 at half time. A much more even and calmer third quarter was taken narrowly by the home side, 14-12, before New Cambell showed great fight in taking the final period 14-11 but Oldham took the match 70-50. Once again Oldham are crowned Champions, their eighth title in the past nine seasons. It’s a wonderful achievement and full credit to the coaches, players and everyone associated with the club. Their mix of youth and experience signals that they will be the team to match and catch for a good few years yet. Many congratulations Oldham.

Second placed Academy made the long trip to the North East to face a Grangetown side who had won four of their last five, that defeat being at Oldham, and were sat in fourth place. The sides started evenly before a run of eight consecutive goals put Academy well in command as they took the first quarter 17-9. The second period continued in much the same vein as Academy showed plenty of pace and power to lead at half time 31-15. The all important third quarter started to change the complexion of the match as Grangetown came out and forced Academy into errors whilst taking their chances as they came up. By the end of the third period Grangetown had pulled the deficit back from sixteen to nine, taking the quarter 16-9. It would still take a major effort from the hosts to get anything from this game but that’s exactly what they gave it. Grangetown continued to chip away as the Academy lead began to reduce, incredibly after being so far down the hosts took the lead towards the end of the match. Academy rallied and as the final whistle went on a quite extraordinary hour of Netball the game was tied 46-46. The points cement Academy in the runners up spot after an excellent season for them.
You can read Richard Kirby’s match report here

Hucclecote who were fifth travelled to seventh placed Weston Park Blades who were hosting their charity showcase match. The fact they had secured the Premier League 1 status last week meant they could enjoy the day which attracted an attendance of 500 in raising money for the YUYO Charity, a superb effort. The match didn’t disappoint either as a great first quarter saw Hucclecote emerge with a slim lead, 12-11. A change in fortunes in the second quarter saw the hosts put in a strong fifteen minutes to take a half time lead, 24-20. Blades edged the third as well, once again a point separated the sides, 11-10 which meant the hosts went into the final period with a 35-30 lead. Hucclecote were far from out of this match and they put in a solid performance to take the fourth quarter 14-12, not quite enough to turn the match around as Blades took the game in front of their very enthusiastic support by 47-44. Blades stay seventh whilst Hucclecote drop to sixth.
There was a huge match at the bottom of the table as Cumberland entered the last chance saloon in an effort to save their League 1 status as they welcomed Turnford who were sat in eighth place. With the visitors having a last day trip to Oldham to look forward to they also knew anything other than a win today could spell relegation. It was a tight, high scoring game which saw Turnford emerge with the much cherished five points after a 62-56 win. That result unfortunately condemns Cumberland to League 2 Netball next season but they showed enough fight and quality to suggest they will be pushing hard for a return to the top flight next year. For Turnford, all eyes were on Manchester where

Tameside played host to a Leeds Athletic side who also needed a win to stand any chance of survival. The home side powered into a 29-18 half time lead and while Leeds battled hard by the final whistle Tameside had extended their advantage to take the match 53-38. That win moves Tameside up to fourth, a point ahead of Grangetown in fifth. Leeds mean whilst stay ninth but cannot catch Turnford meaning they too are relegated and end their stay in League 1, albeit, I’m sure, temporarily.

League 2
The only thing left for YWCA Bury this season with promotion having being secured a long time ago was to go through the campaign with a 100% record. The latest team trying to upset that particular applecart was Worcester Reds who hosted the North West side that once again could call on England legend Jade Clarke to lend experience and guidance to a young, flourishing squad. Worcester started well, very well and took the first quarter 12-11. The second period saw Bury get into their stride and by half time they had turned things round and opened up a useful five point lead, 26-21. They doubled that advantage in the third quarter to lead 39-29 before ending the match with a very convincing 21-10 score to take the match 60-39. That defeat leaves Worcester Reds in seventh, but more of that later…..

Second place Linden welcomed bottom side Sussex Thunder in a match that both teams were desperate to win but for very different reasons. The visitors knew they had to win to stand any chance of staying in League 2 whilst the hosts were looking to secure that promotion spot that they had been occupying all season. Linden came out all guns blazing and took a six point lead into the second period but Thunder knew they had to respond, and they did, a great fight back to tie the quarter 11-11 and still be in with a chance in the second half. Linden were too strong in the third period however as they eased themselves to promotion with a 18-9 win, fifteen points in front going into the final fifteen. Great commitment and fight again from Thunder saw them claw back Linden’s advantage, they took the quarter 15-9 but it was Linden’s match, and their day, as the 54-45 victory secures League 1 Netball next season. Congratulations Linden!

Three wins in a row had edged The Downs away from real trouble at the foot of the table to a position of near safety as the travelled west to face mid table Team Bath Toucans. This sounded like a great game that saw the visitors emerge with a one point victory, 51-50. More importantly for The Downs those five points secure their place in League 2 as Premier Romans and Telstars have to face each other in a re-arranged match.

Premier Romans made the trip to Bromsgrove knowing a win against Ryland would be vital as other results could lead to them having too much to do to avoid relegation. For their part the hosts knew a win and a defeat for Linden would mean that second promotion spot would be a last day nerve tingler. Of course they weren’t to know that Linden were getting their job done elsewhere and it was just as well really as Premier Romans pulled off the result of the day in League 2 with a fantastic 49-44 away win. Telstars meanwhile had made the very long trip to Oaksway who were sitting in fourth knowing the situation below them in the league had gotten a whole lot more tense as far as they were concerned. A win would pull them to near safety and as the match neared its end it looked like that would happen as the visitors held a four point lead in the final quarter. Unfortunately for Telstars they were unable to keep hold of it as Oaksway emerged 54-51 winners.

So whilst YWCA Bury and Linden are promoted the relegation battle is anything but settled. Sussex Thunder sadly are relegated, that’s the one thing we do know. They battled hard all the way but having to regroup during the close season meant they were learning and growing as the season progressed. They will be among the top sides battling to get back next season without a doubt. The final relegation place looked to be decided a few weeks ago but Premier Romans two wins in their last four have given them a fighting chance. They are still ninth but just one point behind eighth placed Telstars with two games to play. Telstars also have two to play, one of them is a rearranged fixture next week at home to……Premier Romans. Not safe yet are Worcester Reds. They only have one game left, home to Ryland, and while it’s very unlikely they will be overtaken by both Romans and Telstars it is still possible.

League 3
Charnwood are already promoted, as Champions, that’s done and dusted. TFC Leicester and Essex Open are preparing for the play-offs, that too is already known. That final play-off spot and the second promotion spot are what this League is all about currently…..
Charnwood can still have a significant say in who joins them in League 2 next season. Their final match is at home to Thoroughbreds who were going into this round in second place. This match was no less important as Charnwood were on the road to Kent to face Eclipse who were fourth and just three points off of second spot. The visitors have only lost two matches in what has been a pretty dominant season and so it was that their form continued as they recorded a 57-47 win, a result that could end Eclipse’s promotion hopes depending on other results.
Thoroughbreds in second were due to host Leyton who are desperately trying to fend off that last play-off spot. Due to health issues that match had to be postponed by Leyton. The rearranged fixture is still going to have a major impact on both ends of the table.

That meant third placed Exeter and fifth place Norfolk United could both leapfrog Thoroughbreds with wins. Exeter welcomed the young squad of Essex Open and there were no shock results coming out of Devon as the home side recorded a superb 72-22 win that means their Goal Average is second only to Charnwood, that could prove to be crucial the way this battle is going. That win puts Exeter into second place with their final match away to Eclipse who, because of the Exeter result are out of the promotion race. Despite that they have had a tremendous first season in the Premier League and can be rightly proud of their achievements.

Norfolk United hosted their final home match of the campaign with a visit from Clan. Again both ends of the table were impacted by this match as the visitors occupied eighth, just two points adrift of Leyton and three behind Billericay. A high scoring first quarter saw United take a 19-15 lead into the second period. By half time that lead had grown to seven points, 36-29. Norfolk took the third period 14-10 to give them an eleven point cushion going into the final quarter but there was no sitting back as they stormed it 21-10 to take the match 71-49. Norfolk up to third with an away match at Essex Open to finish off their season….

BSV Billericay welcomed TFC Leicester to Basildon knowing anything less than a win could still see them joining their visitors in play-off action. They were also hosting a charity event with donations to MacMillan Cancer Support. Despite great resistance from TFC it was Billericay who not only took the win by 53-45 but also, with the Clan defeat, secured their League 3 status for next season.

So, this means the final play-off spot of eighth is between Clan and Leyton. The second promotion spot is now between Thoroughbreds, Exeter and Norfolk United. There’s going to be some nervous moments up and down the country in two weeks time when Round 18 matches take centre stage.

Until then….
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