Princesses are kings of the court

Two intramural heavyweights locked horns as an understrength SHOoters side took on an improving Polo Princesses team

James Sproston
12th December 2016
Misfire: the in-form Jade Holden punished SHOoters to give Polo the advantage. Image: James Sproston

This week’s netball offering was a tasty affair, with the water polo girls coming out on top.

In their previous fixture, Princesses lost 24-7 to another team of medics, and were looking to bounce back. In contrast, Shooters beat league-leaders NTM 17-12, and were the only team to do so going into this match.

Princesses’ preparation wasn’t ideal leading up to the match. Ellie Rogers and Bethany Lumborg pulled out in the early hours, so Polo were forced to draft in freshers Rowena Moores and Sydney Isaacs, and there were several players putting on bibs who were still feeling delicate from the night before.

However, it was Princesses that started brightest. After narrowly missing moments earlier, Polo goal attack, Jade Holden, converted the first goal of the day from outside the circle. Holden then doubled her team’s lead, following a neat one-two with wing attack Megan Lord.

Though Polo had the early advantage, Shooters responded well. From Grace Anderson, centre Kiran Keshvara, goal attack Venetia Miller and wing attack Ellie Tittle combined well to find goal shooter Anderson in a good position. Both Anderson and Miller then had a couple of attempts each before the Miller finally scored her team’s first goal of the match.

But just as the medics pulled level, the water polo players again edged back in front

The medics then looked to capitalise on their momentum. From the restart they pressed forward, and the ball was worked from Victoria Bell at wing defence to Ellie Tittle. However, Tittle was only able to find Princesses goal defence Rowena Moores, releasing to Lord, who in turn played a swift one-two with Marie Warren to give goal shooter Charlotte Duff a shot at goal. The rebound fell to Holden, who made no mistake from three yards away.

Again, Shooters responded quickly. After three waves of attack, Miller found some space, converting another of her chances. But just as the medics pulled level, the water polo players again edged back in front.

Warren found Holden in the middle third, who looked for the give-and-go with Lord. The wing attack instead opted for a powerful bounce pass, picking out Moores, who was able to find Holden in acres of space inside the circle. Despite the Shooters defence closing her down quickly, Holden kept her nerve and scored another.

At half time, Shooters were limited to just seven players, so their team remained somewhat similar. However, Princesses had the luxury of having an extra two players, replacing their goal keeper and wing defence, and shifting several positions about. Sarah Poyntz moved up to goal shooter, whilst Megan Lord filled the vacant centre position, prepared to do some running despite her face turning a shade of red that resembled a squashed tomato.

After the restart, Polo once again asserted their dominance. Having intercepted the ball, Moores laid the ball off to Holden, who released to Lord. Following a one-two with Poyntz, Lord again picked out Holden in the circle, who made the score 6-2.

Lord and Holden utilised low bounce passing that often helped unlock the opposition defence

Another interception, this time by Duff, put Princesses on the attack again. Holden picked the ball up deep, before passing to Lord. The centre gave the ball to Poyntz, whose shot rebounded to Holden, and unsurprisingly ended in another Polo goal.

Shooters fought back; with Anderson scoring twice in quick succession from two Tittle passes, whilst Holden scored another for the water polo girls. After a Shooters attack broke down, both Lord and Bell jumped on the ball, leading to an impromptu wrestling match. Though Shooters got the referee’s decision, they were unable to capitalise on the opportunity.

Following a spate of missed chances, Holden scored from four yards out, and Poyntz netted two more, assisted by Lord and Duff.

As the game progressed, Lord and Holden’s link-up play made the match more comfortable. Having played together at club level, the chemistry between the two was evident. Standing at 5' 2" and 5' 4" respectively, Lord and Holden utilise accurate, low bounce passing that often helped unlock the opposition defence.

It was this chemistry that finished Shooters off. Despite Miller grabbing a goal, Holden and Poyntz scored another one each to increase the team’s lead and finish up the game at 13-7.

On this occasion, Polo seemed to click, and the medics did not. Having seen their previous results, it’s clear that Shooters can be a team to be reckoned with, but they came up against a Polo Princesses side that were on top of their game, and never looked likely to lose.

POTM: Jade Holden

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