Wednesday evening saw the final matches of the season for Newcastle University Netball Club’s 2s, 3s and 4s, and I was lucky enough to watch the last match of the day: Newcastle 3s vs Durham 3s.
I am no stranger to Netball, having played it throughout school and now for an intramural team, but I have never played to the level of those on the University teams and I was excited to watch a match. The high level of play I had anticipated was certainly evident on Wednesday evening.
Unfortunately missing the first quarter, I joined the game at the end of the first quarter and the score was already 14-9, a positive start. The second quarter began with an impressive three goals in a row by Newcastle’s GS, Ellis Swift. Play was moving fast, and soon the score was 19-11. Passes were confident but smooth throughout, and it was evident that this was a tight-knit team. Newcastle’s GD, Jane Phiri, was doing an excellent job at finding space, and made a number of spectacular defensive saves. Unfortunately a clash between Newcastle’s WA Amy Bower and Durham’s WD required a substitute, bringing on Rachel Taylor, momentarily stopping the clock (and it failing to re-start), though the game was soon back in full swing.
By half-time the score was 23-23. It was still anyone’s game, and the start of the third quarter was met with loud cheers from the crowd (unsurprisingly slightly Newcastle dominated). This quarter again began with three goals bouncing off the previous, for Durham, then Newcastle, and back to Durham. Newcastle was doing an excellent job at finding space and the ball was travelling from one end of the court to the other at an impressive speed. Newcastle’s Swift and GA, Lauren Wainwright both proved reliable shooters, and the team worked hard to get the ball to them to ensure the goals. However, while the Newcastle team had skillful shooters, unfortunately so did the Durham team, and the third quarter finished at another nail-biting draw of 32-32.
The fourth and final quarter began with everything still to play for. A couple of heated clashes for the ball demonstrated again the competitiveness of both teams, which I imagine was certainly intensified by the local derby element of the match. It was not long before the goals started, with Durham taking the lead. Newcastle slipped behind to trail 34-37, though accuracy from both Swift and Wainwright brought the team back to a 39-39 draw, greeted by massive cheers from the crowd. All of the Newcastle team were giving absolutely everything; there was calling for the ball, finding space where there was none and all the while encouragement for their teammates. The team spirit was definitely evident when Newcastle’s Phiri (GD) was substituted, and a received a massive cheer from both her team-mates and the crowd. Enthusiasm and energy remained high throughout the final quarter, and the level of play never went below outstanding, however unfortunately the game ended with a final score of 41-45. Newcastle was rewarded with cheers from the crowd, and despite some heated moments during the game, all players from both teams shook hands and congratulated the other.
This was a fast-paced, dynamic and exciting game to watch; I was certainly very impressed at the standard of Netball I saw, and the team should all be very proud of themselves. While this may have perhaps been their last match of the season, I wish the Newcastle 3s and the other teams all the very best for the future, and I would encourage anyone with an interest in Netball to go and watch a game if you have the chance. You won’t be disappointed.