The first Winter League Tuesday night of 2021 saw Resolution IT Black, with plenty of years of netball between them, use that experience to beat Blaze B 42-34 at Les Beaucamps.
But they needed a suitable amount of resolution to stub out a strong under-18 side who were leading with 15 minutes left.
That same evening, champions Rezzers Green made a real game out of their ‘friendly’ versus the Island Men, losing by just four, and T&T Purple beat Liberte NGT A convincingly, leaders Blaze A doing likewise against T&T Blue.
The cobwebs of over a month’s match inactivity definitely showed early into the headline B team battle.
Both teams started slowly, with a few dropped balls and easy turnovers each way, but the game soon settled and the natural rhythm of goals followed.
It was even-stevens for 10min. and solid defence in Rezzers’ circle picked up any Blaze mistakes.
Blaze shot with greater precision but Rezzers dug in as shooters Keeleigh Le Tissier and Kristy Webber found their feet to win quarter one 9-6.
Rezzers’ narrow lead continued through to half-time, and reached 16-13, even with Blaze bringing on Vicky Yabsley, who made an impact in their shooting circle.
Rezzers in turn introduced Anna Trump and Liz Mills at half-time. This did not play to their advantage and Blaze took hold of quarter three, firing themselves ahead to 29-27.
Blaze’s defending, not least from GK Codie Ford, added to Rezzers’ troubles.
The final stanza was where Rezzers really put a foot on the pedal as some experienced players rallied their less-seasoned teammates.
Their circle defence of Lois Batiste and Claire Green finally clicked and proved the difference with multiple turnovers and finally – after some chops and changes – centre-court players Savannah Goddard and Lauren Coutanche stepped up and fed the shooters nicely.
Starting Rezzers WA Goddard and Blaze GS Yabsley earned player-of-the-match nominations.
Victorious captain Batiste, after a disappointing start, was ‘really pleased’ by another strong finish showing that squad rotation can really pay.
‘I think at that point, our desire to win really came in,’ Batiste said.
‘I’m optimistic, especially for after the league split [next month], which will have some really close games. It should be an exciting second half of the season.’
Blaze coach Nena Copperwaite said her girls ‘gave a good account of themselves’ throughout the narrow loss.
‘Credit to Resolution – they know how to see a game out and we haven’t learned that yet.’
Afterwards, Rezzers Green held the men 38-42 in a nearly goal-for-goal encounter.
GD Luke Penney earned ‘POM’ for a men’s side who led 16-13 at half-time as step-up shooter Trump took Rezzers’ honours.
Mobile GS Trump, replacing an illness-stricken Clare Henry, produced some great circle work with GA Verona Tomlin that contributed to them snatching the final stanza by two.
At the Grammar School, T&T Purple’s 60-34 win over Liberte did not tell the entire story.
Liberte presented some key resistance in winning quarter two, capping T&T’s half-time lead to 22-15, but subsequent periods of 18 and 20 from the favourites blew out their victory margin.
WD Nat Cavanagh and young WA Amy Le Tocq shared ‘POM’ for T&T as university-based GD Lauren Smeed took Liberte’s honours.
Blaze A then continued their unimpeded winning run by trumping T&T Blue 63-35.
U18 Lillie Cochrane again impressed at the centre of a solid team win built off a 30-13 lead at half-time, with opposing GD Sophie Cowley making it six ‘POM’ nominations from eight this developing season. Injury to Blaze attacker Chloe Khaira was the sole dampener.
But Blaze cannot be complacent.
Next Tuesday they face second-placed Rezzers Green, who hope to avenge a one-goal defeat last October, for the first ‘big three’ clash of 2021.