Sitting in third place in the BUCS Netball North Conference, Lancaster University Netball 3rd team faced fourth placed Bolton 1st’s in their seventh match of the season. Having won two out of their last three games, Lancaster were high on confidence and looking to extend their recent run of good form and go within a point of league leaders Edge Hill University. With Bolton’s recent poor form of four losses out of their last five games, one would have been forgiven to think this match was a foregone conclusion.
That said, the match itself could not have been a more contrasting story. The first quarter proved to be a nervy and intense period for Lancaster with both sides very evenly matched. During the first ten minutes, both sides struggled to establish a comfortable lead: going no more than two goals ahead at a time. Bolton ended the first quarter strongly with well taken goals from both Goal Shooter, Crouch, and Goal Attack, Wright, dragging the score back from 5-3 to 6-8.
The beginning of the second quarter was a completely different story. Lancaster responded to Boltons’s two early goals, scoring on four consecutive attacks to level the scores at 10-10. While Bolton looked lackluster, Lancaster came out like a whole new team with captain Rachael Dawson leading the way with excellent goals to level the game and excellent support play for Goal shooter Carla Baylis. Having shown signs of weakness in the first quarter, Dawson’s support play inspired Baylis to turn it round with a couple important goals to make it 14-12 before half-time. This rounded off a briliant quarter for Lancaster, having scored twice as many against a tiring Bolton side.
As we headed into the second half of the match, Lancaster and Bolton tightened up their defences, in contrast to how open the game was in the second quarter. Similar to the first quarter, both sides struggled to cement a substantial lead. Bolton’s Goal shooter Crouch went close on several occasions to tie the game up, however, it was Lancaster’s attacking duo of Dawson and Baylis who managed to build a healthy three goal lead by the end of the quarter.
With the score at 20-17, the final quarter of the match was bound to be an intense and entertaining finish to the match and both sides did not disappoint. Within the first couple minutes, Bolton found new life and confidence in their team and managed to cut the lead to just one. Yet, Lancaster did not give in – captain Dawson scored a wonderful lobbed effort as well as setting up possibly the best goal of the game half way through the last quarter to retain an albeit shaky lead. With the scores level at 24-24 and with just a couple minutes to go, Baylis secured Lancaster’s third win of the season, with a well taken goal in the dying seconds.
The netball third team has responded magnificently after a disappointing start to the season and now sit within a point of the league leaders – Edge Hill University – with thirteen points in the BUCS Netball North Conference while Bolton remain in fourth now four points behind Lancaster.