Rezzers’ strength in depth excites Gervaise-Brazier

A COMPETITIVE thriller is virtually guaranteed whenever Rezzers Green face long-term rivals Blaze A.

While the reigning champions triumphed 53-45 on Tuesday night in the first meeting between the Premier Division powerhouses this season, Blaze overcame injury issues to keep their opponents battling from the opening centre pass.

It sets an intriguing scene for future head-to-heads – and there are another three of those due this campaign.

Indeed, Blaze came out of the blocks stronger at the Grammar School.

Following last week’s loss against Lightning A, plus injuries to stalwarts Hannah Blondel and Amy Fallaize, Nena Copperwaite’s side were operating slickly and led initially.

In particular, GK Roxanne Wylie commanded the defensive circle with numerous turnovers and teenager Lillie Cochrane showed her maturity at C, as shooters GA Abbie Greening and GS Zola Saunders fired away precisely.

Rezzers could be excused for some early rustiness, an easier win three weeks ago being their only prior outing this season, but they soon settled and won the quarter 13-11.

Their influential captain, Tiff Gervaise-Brazier, worked towards a player-of-the-match performance at C, despite this being her first full 4x15min. game since January.

Rezzers showed strongly on either side too, especially their proven circle partnerships – defensively GK Abby McCracken and GD Gemma Batiste, on attack GA Verona Tomlin and GS Clare Henry.

But although they made numerous turnovers, they were not always able to convert them and suffered a few unforced errors.

That let Blaze rally past in quarter two with a swift injection of goals – converted from both centre passes and turnovers – as Greening and eventual ‘POM’ Saunders moved and shot impressively in the circle.

Even after Rezzers hit their own run and reached half-time leading 23-21, there was much to play for.

Gervaise-Brazier’s side seemed to profit from moving their centre court and introducing Anna Trump at WA for quarter three.

They started to bring the ball through better to attack, where they shot sharply, while injury to WA Jaymee-Leigh Weysom unsettled Blaze.

Rezzers opened up the scoreline critically by netting 18 goals to 12.

Blaze’s Cochrane also missed the final stanza due to feeling ill, as fellow youngster Emily Mourant stepped in, and the deficit could not be overcome.

The win left Gervaise-Brazier in high spirits for another big test next Tuesday against Lightning A.

‘We are pleased with the win and the close score was a reflection on how competitive the game was,’ she said.

‘It was a really good game from both sides and one of our first of the season, so we will be looking to convert our turnovers more efficiently and make less unforced errors over the next few games.

‘We are lucky to have really good depth in all three squads [Rezzers Green, Black and White] at the moment and that gives us plenty of options to play different combinations and opportunities for players to take to court, which is exciting.’

There was no shame in losing for Copperwaite.

Nena Copperwaite is quickly on the move after making a pass. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 30080060)

The Blaze captain now hopes they can maintain their patient approach through future games, especially as they tire later on.

‘We lost, but we came off and we were really pleased,’ she said.

‘Hannah’s out for six weeks, Amy’s out for another week or two, so everyone really stepped up today.

‘Chuffed to bits – know it sounds stupid because we lost. We feel better than last week.

‘We just really enjoyed that game and we were just saying that we’ve got to play them and [Lightning] three more times yet, so we’re looking forward to three matches. We can only build on today.’

In the second match slot, Blaze B put in a hot start against Rezzers Black and trailed only narrowly in a tight first quarter – again 13-11.

But Black, a solid mix of experienced and developing players, pulled away steadily to beat their U18 rivals 63-46.

In-form Rezzers GS Emma Sykes shared POM honours with Blaze GA Georgia Gray.

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