A fantastic second half performance from Leeds’ netball 2nd team at the Gryphon Sports Centre on Wednesday evening propelled them to a 68-53 victory against Sheffield Hallam 1s. It had been a good start to the season for the home team, with three wins out of a possible four in the league, and they went into the match in third place, with only their opponents and Leeds Beckett ahead of them.
Leeds started the brightest of the two teams, with goal shooter Chloe Vialou-Clark having plenty of opportunities in the first few minutes, using her height advantage over the Hallam goal keeper, to help put the side 4-0 up. There was a break in play after an injury left Leeds goal keeper Kate Bowman unable to continue, with Sarah Danaher coming on as her replacement. This seemed to rob Leeds of their momentum, with Sheffield beginning to find their way into the match more as the quarter neared its conclusion, getting within two points to make the scores 15-13 at the end of the quarter.
Once again, Leeds started the quarter on the attack, consolidating their lead with three quick points courtesy of Vialou-Clark and Claudia Gray. The lead swapped between four and five points for the whole quarter, with points coming thick and fast from both sides, as Danaher and her Sheffield Hallam counterpart were left powerless to stop the clinical attacks which have made these two teams the best in the league. One of the star players for Leeds during this period was wing attack Ellie Bird, who provided some excellent passes for the two goal scorers, with the half ended 33-29 to the home side.
Changes at half time saw Bird move to wing defence, with Helen Grennan replacing Zoe Phillips, and Ellen Whitehead coming on for Jess King at centre. The third quarter proved to be the decisive one in the match, as Leeds were just too good in attack and defence for the Sheffield side, with Bird and Vialou-Clark showing amazing accuracy at one end of the court, with the makeshift partnership of Danaher and Mia Richardson growing in strength at the other, as they stopped chance after chance for the Hallam team. A clever pass close to the ground from Grennan helped put the lead for the home side into double figures for the first time, and they had consolidated this into a 55-41 advantage by the end of the quarter.
Sensing a chance to make a real statement, Leeds went for the jugular in the Gray’s shooting from the edge of the area proving crucial, as she helped Leeds hit the sixty-point mark. Hallam gained a few consolation goals towards the end of the match, but in the end they were well beaten by a confident and tactically astute home side, who will have been glad to bounce back from a cruel defeat at Leeds Beckett, in their last league match a fortnight ago.
As with most of the BUCS teams, there is only one match left for the netball 2nds in 2016, as they face Newcastle 1s at the Gryphon Sports Centre next week. On this evidence, there is no reason why the side can’t improve on their fourth place finish from last season. And with a cup quarter final in February, silverware is looking like a real possibility.
Featured Image: Luke Etheridge