Netball: three out of four UKC wins

Match report by Kiro Evans

When all is said and done, both teams can be very proud of themselves. Christ Church may be celebrating the win and, even more so, the all-important bragging rights, but this was a spectacle that trumped all petty rivalries. A high-octane encounter which really could have gone either way, fans would have left the CCCU sports centre with a big smile on their collective faces, with both teams demonstrating a wealth of speed, teamwork and battle-hardened spirit. This was a proper Varsity game, one where any sort of eventual university degree appears only an afterthought when compared to the highs of a sporting win. UKC’s Kelly Read, the goal scorer, was the early impressive performer of the game, netting 5 of her team’s first 6 goals and refusing to miss any opportunities her hard-working teammates laid on a plate for her. Unfortunately for the away side, CCCU were just as impressive going forward, and the game’s frantic pace saw one side go and score and the other side immediately respond. This spell was broken with a couple of misses by Anke Krogh, who was otherwise very effective, while Fiona Page worked the left side of the court habitually to create chances. The first quarter ended with CCCU’s second team having a deserved 12- 10 lead.

The home side began the second quarter with an impressive range of passing that was matched only by UKC’s gravity-defying athletics as they refused to be outran or, crucially, out jumped by their opponents. Read kept up her goal- scoring exploits while Caoimhe Brady was becoming increasingly involved in attacking moves. A pattern was emerging into play – CCCU confidently taking a 4- goal lead before UKC pegged them back. They would end the second quarter 23- 20 behind, with coach Fran Plom harsh but fair in her team talk that the team were “making silly mistakes”.

With the smell of Red Bull dancing through the room, the sides came onto the court for the 3 rd quarter, where UKC had several chances to be level but blew them. But CCCU did not make the same mistakes, soon making it 24-21, with the away left to rue their profligacy. But then, as though awoken by their mistakes, the University of Kent second team came roaring back from nowhere, with Krogh narrowly missing an opportunity to make it 25-25.

The game then entered a tense two and a half minute spell no one scores, almost as though, like two machines becoming sentient, they were beginning to become equipped to defend themselves. With the game of the knife-edge, quality was needed, and arguably the best attacking move of the match made it 27-26 to CCCU. It got worse for Kent: the quarter ended 31-27 – the home side took their chances, the away side didn’t.

A recovery was desperately needed but it didn’t materialise. Despite battling, it was soon 37-30 halfway into the fourth quarter as Christ Church build up a furious head of steam and a near insurmountable lead. The game was to end 43-

35, with the CCCU end of the room exploding into a wall of noise at the full time- whistle. For Kent, only frustrated and disappointed faces. “I think consistency was what let us down,” the straight-talking coach Plom told Inquire at the end. “We had sparks of real brilliant play but we didn’t necessarily keep that for the whole game and when we didn’t keep it Christ Church were able to capitalise on it. We’ve got some really positive points to take away from it. We’re still in a position to win the [BUCS] league so we’re going to focus on that from now.”

Sharp-shooting UKC Netball 1s win confidently at CCCU by 54-47. It was deftly executed from Kent’s Netball first team, deftly-executed and deadly. They had a clear game plan, stuck to it, and overwhelmed their opponents from the first minute till the very end. If a Canterbury-based scholar were to write a detailed guideline on how to achieve at Varsity, than this evening’s match should serve as a blueprint for how to produce the most assertive and effective of performances. Their competitors Christ Church, for the most part, were disappointingly dysfunctional – almost dysfunctional, perhaps, as the sports centre’s scoreboard, which abruptly stopped working at the end of the first quarter and refused to confirm UKC’s 11 th and 12 th goals.

This problem, after the away support whipped up a livid furore, quickly resolved itself, but even if it had not, the margin of victory for UKC was so convincing and dominant they could have afforded two goals not being allowed in their favour. The final margin of 54-47 maybe even flatters the hosts somewhat, who put in a decent perform but where ultimately outdone.

“It’s one of our best games so I’m really proud of the girls,” the captain Abbie Weaire said at the end. When asked who the best performer from the team was, she said: “I can’t pick. We’re a team. Everyone performs for each other.” Coming out the mouth of anybody else, this may seem a clichéd, safe answer, but indeed one defining attribute of this netball’s first team performance was the collective hard-working element of the team, with no player standing out but each equally impressive.

This teamwork was on display as soon as the game began, with UKC racing into a 0-3 lead against a clearly bamboozled CCCU team. They clawed their way back into the contest with impressive passing moves, before UKC strengthened their command of the match with a 2-7 lead, with the Kent defence, even more so than the attack, remarkable, repelling opponents and lead determinedly by the intractable spirit of goalkeeper Rose Smith. But Christ Church finally began to show their teeth and fight harder in defence, and left the first quarter behind by only 7-10.

Or at least that’s what the scoreboard said. In reality it was 7-12, and the mix of anger and bemusement from the away crowd seemed almost to stir the faulty

technology back into life, finally giving way to the correct score line before the second quarter began. But it was almost as if the controversy caused Kent to lose their heads – within a few minutes, it was 11-12, before great interplay by Megan Weston and Tamika Quartey saw UKC peak back clear ahead in the liveliest period of the game.

They managed to get the score to 13-17, and at least re-establish the pretence of control on a match that briefly looked like it could swing wildly into the opposition’s favour. The second quarter ended 21-27, with UKC pulling away in the final few seconds in an otherwise tit-for-tat 15 minutes.

After an initial struggle, UKC blew their opponents away by the end of the third quarter, opening up a 9-goal gap at one stage, before it was reduced to 33-40. The aim for the fourth quarter was to not get complacent and assume the win was in the bag, and thankfully for the visiting faithful, cheering their team on relentlessly, they didn’t. At 35-45, it was increasingly clear who would be walking away with victory, and the faintness of the CCCU celebrations when they got what was now mere consolation goals seemed to confirm what everyone was thinking.

"It was tense and we were kept on the edge of our seats for the entire game."

Opinion piece on the Netball Varsity

By Katinka Pim

UKC’s performance in Netball today was of the highest standard, with their teamwork, perseverance and determination visible from the start. The day began with an amazing victory from the 4s, a team so competent website sports editor Meg Warwick and I agreed they could have been mistaken for the first team.

Although maintaining a solid lead throughout, the team were relentless in their hardwork, and definitely have greatness ahead of them. I was particularly impressed by the Goal attack and Goal shooter, who managed to score every time they made a shot, bar about three times throughout the whole game. The 3s began with a very close game, with each team alternating in scoring after the other. The competition was fierce, however they finished with a well deserved win, almost 10 goals ahead of CCU. The 2s although a loss, was the most enjoyable game to watch. It was tense and we were kept on the edge of our seats for the entire game. The girls provided probably the most determination and strong-will than any of the others, giving sweat, blood and sadly tears at the end. The half time scores were incredible - with an amazing last minute goal bringing the score to 25-25.

Honestly the game could have gone either way, but more than anything the 2s showcased the kind of perseverance and passion that UKC students bring. After a long day of netball, the excitement and adrenaline in the room had peaked when the first team were called out to play. With the biggest crowd of the day, the noises were booming from every corner, whether they were cheers or boos. (CCU were particularly vocal, but that didn’t sway the game in their favour in the end did it). With probably the most pressure above all the other teams, UKC played well with consistency and skill, despite the shouts and noises of the crowd. They managed to keep up a solid lead almost throughout the entire game, and the team worked incredibly hard throughout, leading them to their very well-deserved win.

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