Panthers pull clear after a sluggish start
SAFFERY PANTHERS opened their away account for the season with an hard-fought 46-37 victory against league newbies Royals on Sunday.
After travelling to Windsor for their second South Division Three clash of the season and the first of four consecutive matches on the road, Panthers’ strength in the second quarter allowed them to establish a decisive lead.
The two sides fought out a very even first 15 minutes and entered the break tied at 10-10.
After making a few changes to their squad and putting Abbie Greening on at wing-attack, a strong defensive performance allowed the Greens to pull clear.
Panthers put sufficient pressure on the opposition to force a series of errors on the centre pass and convert the turnovers into five unanswered goals.
Circle defenders Abby McCracken and Ella Staples further increased the pressure and sharpened attack from Clare Henry and the proven Greening allowed Panthers to hit half-time 26-17 up.
In the third quarter, Panthers lost a little bit of ground but some impressive conversions from Greening and Henry in the shooting circle allowed them to maintain their lead, then 37-29 to the good.
Royals came out fighting in the final stanza but with some defensive interceptions mid-court and the return of Lorna Hall as goalkeeper, the veteran working tirelessly to defend a new shooting combination, Panthers won by nine goals.
Captain Tiff Gervaise-Brazier took the opposition’s player-of-the-match nomination, playing well in both centre and wing-defence, and noted that there is no room for complacency.
‘We are really pleased to get the win, but we made it quite hard for ourselves as we took a while to settle into the game,’ she said.
‘Despite the win, we will go back to training and work on the timing of our movements in order to make the ball flow easier into the attacking third ahead of our next game.’
Panthers are hoping that this away win will set the tone for their encounter against the relegated Trinity on 13 October.
Joint-captain Charlotte Hill added regarding the challenge of away games: ‘They are obviously different to our home games and it’s really important for us to keep focused throughout the day and be ready to step on court.’