Image Credit: LUKE SNELL
JCNC faced a tough ask against St Hild and St Bede. They came out on top in a nail biting match, winning by just two goals.
The crowd were eager for the game to start and with James capitalising on the first centre to score first, the spectators erupted into applause. This atmosphere continued throughout the game and no doubt spurred the girls on to maintain pace of play.
The James attackers were patient around the circle edge and fed the ball between themselves before into the shooters which allowed them to get close to the post and limit the chance of missed shots. The Durham shooters equally used every opportunity to shoot from long range which made the opening quarter a goal for goal chase.
One turnover from an athletic James defender was all that was needed to secure a two goal lead. James successfully used well timed drives to take the ball all the way up court, negating good communication from SHSB.
The final 30 seconds of the quarter were intense. In a dramatic passage of play that saw both teams fail to capitalise on intercepted balls, the quarter ended evenly, nine all. Durham were the the first to score in the second quarter but James quickly equalised. A tactical position change saw Grace Kneller in at GD and Charlotte Holleran in the mid-court, who both tenaciously defended and kept the pressure on Durham's shooters.
James moved away from man on man marking to zoning which forced the opposition to play lateral balls that James defenders intercepted. Their height advantage in the circle also allowed James' defenders to pick up crucial rebounds. This defensive effort, combined with Grace Rider’s clinical efficiency in the shooting circle saw James storm ahead.
The third quarter started with a comfortable lead for James but Durham managed to narrow the gap to 21-16 after just five minutes of play. This was not down to complacency on James’ part, but Durham's new tactic which utilised the defence as back-up options on the third line, allowed their shooters to reposition and get closer to the post to shoot.
The Durham GA had grown in confidence as the game went on and especially stepped up in this quarter by shooting from long range. Her newfound confidence seemed to spur her teammates on and after a series of long-balls, the score was back to a nail biting one goal difference with less than a minute to go.
It looked as though James might just hold onto the lead when defender Grace Kneller intercepted on the diagonal, but one misjudged ball as James tried in haste to move up court to goal gave Durham the chance to turnover play, and the quarter ended with the score tied.
The tension in the final quarter was tangible from the crowd as every pass and interception became paramount to the final score. No one would have envied the pressure the shooters from both teams must have felt as every shot mattered.
James ensured every pass was kept safe - in such a close scoring game possession is key. Despite the Durham defenders proving game aware and picking up on the shooters passing the ball around the circle, the time was not in their favour and their chances of clawing back a win diminished as the clock ticked down.
The final whistle sounded to confirm James as winners, 34-32.
Player of the Match: Charlotte Holleran.
Congratulations to all team players - what a way to end the season with a winning weekend!