Newcastle travelled to Manchester this weekend to compete at their first BUCS National Plate just six months after being formed and essentially, smashed it.
After being drawn against Keele 1, Nottingham 4 and Hallam 2 in the group stages, Nighthawks managed to navigate their way through after 3 wins from 3 with the 14-7 win against Keele being the highlight.
Marching on to the quarter finals, what started off as a tight game against Edinburgh Uni 2s ended 10-6 to Newcastle. At 6-6 it seemed Newcastle were in for a real fight but their maturity and composure helped beat an aggressive side quite comfortably in the end, the deadlock being broken by Harry Waterman’s well timed first goal for the club. Our victory here took Nighthawk’s winning streak to four and saw Newcastle see out the day as the only unbeaten side left in the competition.
Entering day two, one win is all that would be needed to guarantee a medal was coming back to the north east. The question being, what colour would that medal be? UEA 2s were the next opponent who had come into the tournaments as favourites to many. There was nothing to fear though as momentum from the previous day and a continuation of calm and mature play led to an impressive 13-8 victory that was seen as quite the upset.
All that was left was the prospect of national silverware in the final. Hallam 2 would be the opponent after they beat Lancaster in the quarter finals and won a penalty shootout in the semis against Birmingham 3s. If Newcastle could make it 6 wins in 6 not only would it be a fantastic achievement of finishing unbeaten but would also see an unprecedented feat of winning a first trophy in the club's first season that no other university side has achieved.
Following a fast paced first half the scores were even at 5-5 heading into half time but the upper hand was with us. The score continued to go backwards and forwards with Newcastle always managing to stay in front and the score was 9-8 going into the dying minutes. The noise from the crowd was ramping up, Hallam supporters going mad at everything and Newcastle's recruited support from Birmingham, Lancaster, Kent and just about every other team still there making it a real occasion. However, a penalty to Hallam meant the game finished 9-9 and it would be down to penalties to decided who was to win the National Plate. Would Hallam retain it or would Nighthawks finish what most believed unthinkable the previous morning.
Captain Lottie Rhodes won the toss and elected to go first with John Bagnall taking the first penalty and the ball falling agonisingly close after bouncing around the rim. Hallam responded by scoring there first leaving some pressure on Kerry Bray to help keep Newcastle in it. Unfortunately, she couldn't convert and with Hallam scoring their second it was all over.
Despite missing out on the plate, this a performance that the team can be immensely proud of as they finished unbeaten in match play across the weekend and taking home the silver in their debut season is a phenomenal achievement and a real statement of intent as to what is to come from this talented team.
It was also a successful tournament for korfball in the north east as a whole as three of the four individual awards went to Newcastle or Northumbria. Newcastle's Kerry Bray bagging MVP for the girls, John Bagnall top scoring for the guys and Northumbria's Bethan Williams top scoring for girls.
The team would like to thank everyone who has been part of the squad this season and everyone who has come along and supported.