SATURDAY MORNING SAW two of the most competitive college netball fixtures of the year take place. An excellent performance from Halifax’s prolific GS Annie Murphy and a defensive masterclass from GK Lauren Tew was enough to overcome a strong Derwent line-up, with Halifax claiming a 38-17 victory.
As important as the league tables were to both teams, the pinnacle of college sport is the opportunity to represent the University at varsity, and this semi-final fixture would decide who that may be. e magnitude of the match was palpable with over 70 in attendance including students and parents, and the atmosphere was arguable the best varsity qualifier yet.
And it’s safe to say the match lived up to its hype. Halifax were favourites going into the game. They won the first division in term 1 whilst Derwent finished fourth. However, Derwent eased through the varsity qualifiers in 2020 to verse Dur- ham, with many of the players on Saturday having played in the varsity edition two years prior, giving them a unique experience that Halifax didn’t have.
e game began with Derwent’s centre pass from skipper Amy Owens. It didn’t take long for Derwent’s energetic press to be rewarded via GS Phillipa Wid- dows, but shortly after Halifax equalised after a foul from Derwent’s Annie Hollis.
The rest of the rest quarter saw end to end action with the score 5-3 to Halifax going into the second phase of play. Derwent had more chances, but Halifax’s front line looked much more prolific and it wasn’t telling that Halifax would go on to win by a 21 goal margin. The second quarter told a different story from the first. Halifax scored from centre play, and then need three more before Derwent managed to enter the attacking third again. e goal of the match came in the 5th minute of the quarter from Derwent’s Eve Hasler, scoring from the edge of the goal circle to the applause of the crowd.
Derwent looked to be making a come-back with Widdows scoring shortly after. However, Halifax’s attack proved too strong for Derwent as six goals followed in the last ve minutes of the quarter to Derwent’s one, widening Halifax’s lead to 6 goals going into the halfway point of the match with a scoreline of 15-9.
Derwent was forced to defend all the way down the court in the third quarter. Halifax capitalised on
Derwent mistakes to create chances in the attacking third and stepped up their defensive tactics and tightly marked Derwent’s WA Rose Sara-Kelly and GA Eve Hasler, making it difficult for Derwent to and attacking options. Halifax also played a series of ambitious long balls to nd Player of the Match Annie Murphy, who need most of Halifax’s goals in the game.
Derwent looked defeated as Halifax bolstered their attacking threat with a substitution in midfield. Halifax scored 12 in the third quarter and there looked to be no way back for Derwent in the last quarter. The last phase of play saw Derwent’s efforts efficiently squandered by Halifax’s GK Lauren Tew. Tew’s interception during a 2v 1 Derwent counter-attack was met with applause from the crowd and it was clear that this was the story of the match for Derwent - when key chances presented themselves, Halifax’s defence was quick to intercept any danger.
Halifax scored a further 11 goals in the final quarter compared to Derwent’s 3 to give a final score of 38-17 to Halifax.
It was a consistently strong performance from Halifax. When they took the lead from Derwent in the middle of the first quarter, they defended solidly and proved di cult to defend against. e scoreline is perhaps a li le too harsh on Derwent. Solid performances from GD Mia Hammond and GS Phillipa Widdows put Derwent in a good position to capitalise on any possession won in the middle, and the arm-up de- fending tactic in a series of turnovers in the third quarter was an effective defensive approach to win back possession. But Halifax proved to be a team that made few mistakes and placed huge pressure on Derwent to play long-balls throughout the game which were swiftly intercepted by Lauren Tew.
Halifax captain Emily NG described the performance as a “rocky start in the first quarter but we pulled ahead in the 2nd and kept our heads”. GC Annie Murphy was voted Player of the Match by Halifax, although a series of players could have pitched a claim for it. Derwent’s player of the match was arguably Mia Hammond who was effective in shutting down a series of Halifax chances in the first quarter that prevented Halifax from gaining an early lead. GS Phillippa Widdows was equally effective at the other end of the pitch. Alcuin v Langwith, the other varsity final in York, saw Alcuin score 43 to Langwith’s 36. It was an unexpected win for Alcuin, who finished behind Langiwith in the league tables in term 1. Halifax
play Alcuin on Sunday 13 Feb in the final varsity qualifier to decide who will be the top seed for varsity in March.