Wednesday 11 October brought the start of the BUCS netball season and both the first and second team supporters were in for an afternoon of action. Both teams were playing at home with the second team kicking things off with their match against York St Johns University’s first team.
The second team Starting 7 included captain Chloe Tindale at Centre, with Rachael Lickorish and Seriya Vao heading up the rest of the centre court. The attacking circle included shooter Beth McVie and goal attack Catherine Thompson, while defence was lead by Lora Hunt and Molly Cooper.
Despite going 0-2 down within the first 30 seconds of the game, Newcastle dominated the first quarter, scoring ten goals with no response to go 10-2 ahead and then continuing some slick through-court play to allow McVie and Thompson to convert, putting Newcastle 16-3 ahead at quarter time.
"Strong defensive pressure and through-court play allowed Newcastle to score six on the bounce"
There were no changes in the second quarter as the team pulled even further ahead, with flying intercepts from both Hunt and Cooper preventing York from scoring a single goal for the first eight minutes of the quarter. Skilful shooting from McVie and Thompson extended Newcastle’s lead to 33-4 at half time.
A mix-up in the third quarter saw Emily Heppenstall come on in defence to partner Hunt, while Mia Day took over at wing defence, Katie Isbister came on at wing attack and Lucie Bultitude moved into the shooting circle.
Skilful interceptions from Heppenstall, Hunt and Day meant that the ball was being converted regularly and Newcastle reached the 50-goal mark with ease as the third quarter finished 54-13. There was a flying start to the last quarter from both teams, but strong defensive pressure and through-court play from Isbister and Bultitude allowed the shooters to score six on the bounce. The Newcastle seconds kicked off their season with a 68-23 victory.
The first team then had the challenge of taking on Manchester Met, who finished one place above them in the Northern 1A league last season. The first’s Starting 7 included three new faces in the team, with Laurie Elder, Hannah Gorman and Jo Gledhill making their first team debuts at wing attack, centre and goal defence respectively.
Kiera Mchattie joined Gledhill in defence, Kate Hill completed the centre court line up at wing defence and the attacking circle was made up of goal attack Hollie Joyce and goal hhooter Heloise Wormleighton.
"Newcastle refused to let the game get away from them"
Manchester brought a strong side, but Newcastle were raring to go. The first quarter was intense, with both teams scoring from their first centre passes. A fantastic interception by Gorman led to a long-range goal from Joyce, the hosts one goal ahead halfway through the quarter. A few errors through the court led to Manchester scoring four on the bounce, but Newcastle soon got their rhythm back thanks to defensive pressure from Hill, Gledhill and Mchattie and consistent shooting from Joyce and Wormleighton, meaning the quarter ended 14-12 to the away side.
A tip on the Manchester centre pass gave Newcastle possession and two goals in a row from the shooters levelled the score within the first minute. An ankle injury to Mchattie forced an injury time-out and Lauren Wolstenholme came on to replace her as goal keeper. A few mistakes from Newcastle allowed Manchester to capitalise and use their tall shooter to their advantage, extending their lead to 26-16 at half time. Newcastle refused to let the game get away from them and a few changes saw Beth Marron move to goal shooter and Lucy Johnson take the wing attack bib.
Marron made an instant impact in the shooting circle, holding space behind the Manchester goal keeper and slotting home almost every time. Some dependable feeds from Johnson and further shooting from Newcastle brought the score to 35-24.
The final quarter saw Lydia Keeley come on at goal defence and consistent defensive pressure allowed her to win ball after ball in the final third. Passing errors in the centre court prevented Newcastle from capitalising on all the turnovers, but their persistent efforts ensured the game finished 53-41 to Manchester.