The last 10+ weeks had been leading up to this day; our first match of the 2015/16 season. We faced the newly promoted Riverside in the England Netball Premier League 3 league. After a hectic last minute change to the venue both squads arrived for an 11am warm up, with the match start at 11.30am.
As the spectators started filling the sidelines, there were a lot of nerves about the squad. With two of our squad members returning from having babies last season and 3 returning from serious injuries, we needed to focus and look after each other on court. Coach Sarah Tomlinson provided some last minute encouragement and the starting seven was chosen:
GS – Rosie Bailey
GA – Hannah Alexander
WA – Rachel Towell
C – Sam Thomas
WD – Siobhán Gibbons
GD – Rebekah Airey
GK – Charlotte Fairclough
Riverside took the first centre pass which was quickly pressurised by the Dominoes defence and turned over. However, only 15 seconds into the game and the Dominoes GD, called a blood timeout for a nose bleed; after getting back on court the ball swiftly moved up the court, but for some nervous shooting by Dominoes attack, Riverside took advantage and drew first blood (pardon the pun).
The first quarter went goal for goal with both teams forcing errors, turning over ball and taking advantage of some sloppy passing. Dominoes took the lead during last few minutes and at quarter time the score was 10-8 to the home side.
Going into the 2nd quarter both teams kept their starting line ups, keen to make an impact after a nervous first quarter. With a calmer atmosphere, Dominoes took first centre pass and immediately scored to take the score out to 11-8. Riverside responded straight away with their GS closing the gap back to 2 goals. Both teams continued to score from their respective centre pass until the Dominoes circle defence turned over a Riverside centre pass which was converted by Dominoes’ GS to take the score out to 15-11 – Dominoes Centre pass. With some high intensity defensive pressure from Dominoes, and bodies being laid on the line (literally!), the next 5 goals went Dominoes way with GS scoring 5 out of the 6 attempts. At 20-11 Riverside called an injury timeout and a few changes were made at their shooting end. At half time Dominoes had extended their lead to 21-13; an 8 goal advantage going into the 3rd quarter.
Coach Sarah T made changes at half time to the mid-court with Rachel Towell moving to Centre and Lauren Millar & Jemma Smith coming on at WA and WD, respectively. Riverside who also made changes to their mid court for the start of the 3rd quarter took the first centre pass. This was quickly turned over by Dominoes who then scored the next 5 goals in quick succession stretching their lead further to 26-13. An injury timeout was called by Dominoes GS who went down uncontested with a twisted knee. After a slightly extended timeout both teams resumed back on court for the remaining 11 minutes of the quarter, with Emily Cowell taking the GS bib from the injured Rosie Bailey. Dominoes carried on where they left off scoring 9 out of the next 11 goals and taking the third quarter 14-2! Going into the final quarter of the game the score was 35-15.
Final quarter – Final push! A few more changes were made, with Samantha Brown coming on in GS and Robyn Rashford on at WD, Siobhán also returned to the court with Rachel Towell taking a well-deserved rest. The final quarter got under way with a Dominoes centre pass which was quickly converted. However, a few errors in the Dominoes attacking end allowed Riverside to capitalise and take the lead 4-2 in the final quarter with 10 minutes remaining. However, undeterred the Dominoes attacking end quickly re-focussed scoring the next 6 goals on the bounce, with the help of some vital turnovers in defence. The final whistle sounded and the Final score: 44-21
Overall the game was a great marker for our pre-season, fitness and teamwork. We still have a lot to work on as a team and individuals; however, the match was well contested by Riverside, a great squad effort, with all players taking to the court.
Thank you again to the umpires Christina Davidson & Emma Pike and to Riverside for a great match.