Blaze starters delight captain

BLAZE A’s impressively versatile roster again came up trumps on Tuesday night.

In the second match week since lockdown and with a probably-decisive test against reigning champions Resolution IT Green looming, Nena Copperwaite’s title-contending side beat Rezzers’ B team – Black – 40-23 at Les Beaucamps.

Starting the season with 12 players has given the 2018-19 Premier Division champions plenty of options, and though the sevens on court are looking markedly different to last season and even the pre-lockdown campaign, they are proving highly effective.

It was a case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ on Tuesday as Blaze kept their starting seven throughout and relegated their three subs to entertained spectators.

Converted Island GK Zola Saunders again made her mark as a holding shooter, earning player-of-the-match a second week running, while Roxanne Wylie and Amy Fallaize impressed as a newer defensive partnership.

That circle duo were on fire and claimed numerous turnovers, with Hannah Blondel at WD making some handy intercepts.

U18 Lillie Cochrane rocked the C bib and worked nicely alongside WA Jaymee-Leigh Weysom to feed their shooters – Saunders and the dependable Abbie Greening.

Blaze built on a lukewarm start and pulled further clear after leading 18-9 at half-time, but Rezzers continued to fight.

Young centre Lauren Coutanche earned ‘POM’ for a mature game with some great feeds into Rezzers’ attack, which later assumed a new look with a surprisingly successful circle switch from GD Claire Green.

Yet Black’s 10-goal final stanza was not enough to bring back the game – particularly as Blaze answered with 13.

‘We didn’t change from our seven that started, as they were doing such a great job and those of us off were enjoying watching them – they were fantastic,’ winning-captain Copperwaite said.

‘Genuinely such a pleasing overall team performance.

‘We did have a slight wobble to start – and all credit to Rezzers Black as they never make it easy to play our game and kept coming at us.’

In the latter half of a Blaze v. Rezzers double-header, Island Games basketball starlet Emma Sykes stepped into the highly-experienced team and produced a ‘POM’ performance.

Rezzers Green crammed 66 goals into the shortened format of four 12-minute quarters, bolstered by the sharp shooting of GS Sykes, as the young Blaze B side netted 22.

U18 Sykes partnered GA Verona Tomlin effectively as the leaders showed their quality through the court, leading 31-11 at half-time.

In-form GS Vicky Yabsley earned player honours for Blaze B, who have endured a tough season in the top flight but have reaped some improved results recently, last week holding T&T Blue to two goals.

Those same Blues were in action at Grammar and setting themselves up for the coming Plate contest.

The league will split after next week’s matches and the bottom four teams reset their points, thereafter deciding the outcome of the season with just three games against fellow ‘underdogs’.

While Blue’s 41-21 victory over Liberte NGT A will be lost to the split, Claire Jennings’ side gained confidence aplenty from a fine team effort.

Receiving ‘POM’ honours was another youth step-up, GS Immy Giles.

The Division One player found her feet after a quarter and excelled in a mobile shooting partnership with captain Jennings.

Proven defence from Lily Simmons and Sophie Cowley also restricted Liberte’s play into their circle, testing such experienced players as Em Mills, the opposition’s GA and ‘POM’.

‘A great confidence and morale boost ahead of the league splitting,’ Jennings said ahead of a Plate contest in which Rezzers Black will be their main rivals by form.

‘Immy had a cracking game. It’s quite a step up from Div One for a young player with limited experience in the “Prem”, but Immy showed that she has what it takes to confidently participate at that level in the local game.’

T&T Purple also gave the Island Men a great challenge, hitting half-time level at 17-17 before slipping to a 44-38 loss.

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