Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Netball: Newcomers taste premier league success

It was a night for the newcomers in the third week of the Spar Premier league at City of Lisburn Racquets club with both teams successful in their games.

Larkfield club from Lisburn had centre court player and Under 21 international player Michelle Drayne in their line-up as the first year Sports Science student intends to fly back regularly from Loughborough university for the matches and international training.

Laganside, also a Lisburn team, had lost by a close margin 40-35 against Graduates 3 in their debut in the opening match two weeks ago and were outgunned last week 65-28 against the holders Graduates, but came good this week against Bangor.

The seasiders were missing their main shooters Christina McNamara and Victoria McAuley, with Vicky having picked up an injury in the Great North run, and their team was down by nine goals at half time.

A late rally in the third quarter reduced Laganside's lead to three and their captain Nadine Thompson, relieved to have Dawn Rodgers back from injury, introduced coach and veteran international Regina Millen who came on to help clinch a narrow victory, 46-44.

Larkfield II were buoyed up from their performance against Belfast Ladies last week where they showed no fear of the former champions.

Although the end result of that game was defeat the 73-49 scoreline was something to be proud off when the Lisburn team's age range does not exceed 18 years, especially when they were up against one of most experienced teams in the league.

The same approach was taken early in the game by the Larkfield youngsters who gave a solid performance in the first quarter against some fantastic defending by Belfast Ladies II.

However, poor feeding by the Belfast side into their own attacking circle meant they failed to capitalise on their own scoring opportunities and allowed Larkfield to gain an early lead going into the second quarter 14-6.

Belfast Ladies chances were damaged further by the loss of Goal Defence Finnuala Toner just after the restart, who fell hard and had to come off with a head injury.

She was replaced in the circle by Australian Amanda Patterson. They clawed their way back to a six-goal deficit by the midway break, 23-17.

Larkfield Coach Denise Prue made some changes to her attack in the second half, moving Michelle Drayne from Wing Attack to Centre and moving Laura Mason into Wing Attack.

This was the impetus schoolgirl shooter Caroline Davis needed to stretch her side's lead to 39-24 by the end of the third quarter and they ran out 48-36 winners at full time.

They now enjoy a two-week break before coming back to meet their own Premier side in a Home Derby on November 2 at the Friday Night Games.

Spar Premier division one results: Bangor I 44 vs. Laganside I 46, Graduates I 75 vs. Graduates III 23, Belfast Ladies I 75 vs. Graduates II 27, Larkfield II 48 v Belfast Ladies II