Omega travel to Norwich for their penultimate East Region game against Norfolk Utd, the team promoted with them from division 3 at the end of last season. The build up to the game has presented nerves as they are missing their regular shooter, but both Hannah Brown and Emma Faulkner step up from the 2nd team, to fill the shooting position and give options for mid court coverage. After a long journey, the team arrive fairly relaxed and warm up.
They take the court with Hannah Brown filling the GS position to start and Omega have the first centre pass of the game, swiftly taking the opening goal of the game. The Omega team start with control and skill and with the defence putting pressure on the opposition’s shooters, they force Norfolk to error their first two centre passes within the shooting circle, allowing Omega to score the first 5 consecutive goals of the game. The tight defence by Phoebe Gillen (GK), Hannah Sell (GD) and Claire Daws (WD) continues through the opening half of this quarter, which forces the Norfolk attack to error on several occasions, turning over the possession of play to Omega’s advantage on several occasions and the attack players Sophie Cockrill (WA) and Lucy Andrews (C) demonstrating great control of the ball, seeking out the shooters, who’s accuracy is on fire! With both teams in the same colour kit, some confusion is evident as Emma Maidment (GA), sees the blue on the edge of the circle and thinking it is her team member, she passes the ball to Norfolk’s centre and they quickly take the ball down court to goal. The determination and desire to win is evident in both teams, resulting in the umpires having words with players on both teams and a player on each team being cautioned (Omega for persistent offence and Norfolk for dissent on umpire’s decision). The opening quarter ends with Omega holding the lead with a score of 15-8.
Some praise for the great display of netball during the quarter and the team being told to continue the play as they’ve started. The same team take the court once more, but Norfolk make changes to both their circle ends, replacing their GK and GS in an attempt to keep the scores close. The first centre pass goes to Norfolk this time and the quarter doesn’t start so well for Omega with Norfolk fighting back, stealing the first 3 goals of the quarter. Hannah Sell’s tight marking wins Omega the opportunity to claw back a goal as the Norfolk GA contacts as she attempts to position herself for a goal line pass, but the ball is quickly returned to Norfolk. The sea of blue on the court is seeming to cause problems for the Omega team this quarter and they loose the ball on a couple of occasions, throwing the ball to their opposition in error as a result. Omega’s WD, Claire Daw picks up a warning for persistent obstruction around the circle in an attempt to pressure the Norfolk attack. This quarter, the Norfolk GK puts on the pressure and Omega struggle to find their shooter, forcing Emma Maidment to work harder to dominate the shooting circle. Likewise, the Norfolk GS appears to have given their GA confidence and the accuracy of both players is now spot on. These changes allow Norfolk to claw back the goals, winning the 2nd quarter 13 -11, ending the first half with a score of 26-21 to Omega.
A tactical change to the team, with Emma Faulkner replacing Hannah Brown as GS and Sam Abbott replacing Claire Daw at WD. The team are told to settle back and maintain control of the ball, checking the player they are throwing to, to avoid further passing direct to the opposition. Once again, the quarter starts with Norfolk fighting back hard and taking the first three goals of the quarter in the early minutes, but a swift change as this time it’s Norfolk’s turn to get confused with the colours as they pass the ball directly to Omega. Another caution is given, this time to Omega’s WA, Sophie Cockrill for dissent towards the umpire’s decision, which sees the possession awarded to Norfolk. Omega are not moving onto the pass this quarter and Norfolk are quick to read the pass and steal it on several occasions. The Omega defence continues to be strong and tight, forcing Norfolk attack to error, but having gained the possession, Omega return the ball straight back to their opposition. An error with a foot on the line at a side-line throw in proves costly for Omega as Norfolk hold onto possession and gain an equaliser bringing the score to 32-32 with only a minute to the end of the quarter. Omega fight back to regain a lead to end the quarter 34-32.
The final quarter and players are told to take back control and move on to the pass. A slight change with Sam Abbott taking the WD and Hannah Sell returning to GD and the team take the court. Norfolk GS misses the first shot of the quarter and goes for the rebound, but contacts Omega defence, allowing Omega to take the first 2 goals of the quarter. The colours look to be proving difficult for both teams in the opening minutes, as each player appears to be really thinking about their pass before releasing the ball. Determined to maintain control and the lead, Omega attack display skill in controlling and linking the passes and perfection in the inter-passing within the shooting circle. This, coupled with some superb interceptions by Omega’s defence, allows Omega to increase their lead to 5 goals, but an error on a centre pass sees Norfolk pick up the next 2 goals, reducing the lead once more. Omega settle again and their discipline in ball control throughout the whole court, pays dividends as they re-open up the lead. Desire to win ever present, sees Omega’s WD, Sam Abbott cautioned for deliberate contact in the final minutes. Lucy Andrews intercepts the ball in the final 30 seconds but immediately returns the ball to Norfolk who punish with a goal. The final centre pass is Norfolk’s, but the team continues to the pressure to the bitter end, with Hannah Sell intercepting the ball and the team take it to the shooters, but there is not enough time to convert a final goal. The game ends with a final score of 45-40, limiting Norfolk to a single point for the table. The win sees Omega sitting 1 point behind top of the table, Thoroughbreds who have played all of their games and Omega having one more game in hand, hence the potential to take the top spot.
Player of the Match for Omega went to Emma Maidment and for Norfolk, to their GD.
An excellent display of competitive netball from both teams as is usually the case when the two teams meet and a game controlled well by both umpires. Omega meet Cranfield for their final re-arranged game, which is a home game on Saturday 7th April, when they hope to secure the top spot and promotion for the 3rd year running, this time to Division 1 of the East Region League.