The Leeds Netball 1sts recorded a historic first ever victory over sporting giants Loughborough in a pulsating 30-25 win at the Gryphon Sports Centre.
The firsts have made an excellent start to the season, despite losing narrowly to league leaders Manchester 43-39, their win takes them to second in the table.Whilst the match took a few minutes to get going, with both teams setting up carefully not wanting to make a precious mistake, the game soon burst into life.
In a very even first half, the scoreboard ticked over consistently, Leeds would score and Loughborough would answer on the following attack. Whilst both teams had missed several opportunities to score Leeds just edged it 15 -13 at the halfway point, largely thanks to goal attack Natalie Haythorn-Thwaite who was outstanding throughout. Her accuracy and composure in the shooting circle proved to be the difference between the two sides as Loughborough failed to contain her.
In the same manner as the second half had ended, the third quarter was played at frantic pace and ferocious intensity. Leeds started the brighter, scoring two quick goals without reply. However Loughborough managed to overcome this early pressure and always remained within touching the distance, threatening a comeback at any point.
This was averted largely due to excellent defensive work by goal defence Lauren Potter who blocked the Loughborough goal attack tirelessly, limiting her to only a handful of chances. Her organisation and distribution from the back was equally impressive as she often started Leeds best moves.
Despite Leeds’ best efforts, and their admirable creativity and ambition, their final ball to the shooters didn’t always work, with Loughborough managing to capitalise on the loose balls.
The turning point came mid-way through the 3rd quarter as Shana Potgeiter took the game by the scruff of the neck. She dominated her opposite number, creating numerous opportunities which Haythorn-Thwaite put away, extending the lead to 24-19 with a quarter to go.
With a 6 point lead going into the final quarter, there was no room for complacency against a very competitive Loughborough team who were more than capable of turning the score around. Yet Leeds dug deep, their performance level was remarkable, showing few signs of tiring despite the intensity of the match. They remained solid defensively, led by Amy Potter, whilst ready to break at lightning speed, Potgieter linking well with Emily Pasquale.
With timing running out, Loughborough were struggling, taking too long from free throws with Leeds winning the majority or rebounds and second balls.
Leeds maintained the lead to record a historic win over last year’s champions, 30-25. At the final
whistle there was an almighty cheer from the Leeds players and supporters alike. They had every right to be delighted with the result as well as the performance to go with it.
Their next game is at home to Northumbria 1sts, a game they now go into as genuine title challengers.
Image courtesy of the University of Leeds