UWE victorious in Varsity Netball



Nicky Withers reports on the first ever standalone Varsity Netball match, which saw UWE edge a hard-fought encounter.

Sunday 11th February saw the debut of Varsity netball as standalone event, with an alumni match closely followed by Bristol and UWE’s first teams. In the last five matches, only fifteen goals separated the two sides, so the expectation was heaped on it being a very close contest.

The alumni match started quickly but it took both sides a little while to get used to playing together again, with lots of mistakes. UWE were the first to settle and find their feet, pulling away with a 5-2 lead. The Bristol goal keeper had a brilliant game, despite what the scoreline ultimately suggested; preventing UWE storming ahead in more dramatic style. By the end of the first quarter, it was 19-10 to UWE.

Despite their best efforts and some great play, the Bristol team couldn’t gain control of the centre court and found many of their passes intercepted. The UWE wing attack stood out, both receiving and making some incredible passes and showing great control. By half time UWE pulled away to a 37-15 lead.

The second half didn’t get any better for Bristol, who fought hard to try and close down the gap. The deficit proved too much and the match finished with a 68-35 win for UWE alumni.

With the tunes blasting, the first teams began warming up. The crowd grew drastically during this time and the atmosphere started to build. Both teams were introduced and the match was underway. The pace was immediately set incredibly high, but neither team scored for a couple of minutes.

It was UWE who drew first blood, but Bristol retaliated instantly to make it 1-1. The first casualty of the afternoon was the Nuffield Health advertising board, clattered by a UWE player going all out to keep the ball in play. Meeting all expectations, the first quarter was end to end stuff and finished with UWE two goals ahead, 10-8.

The second quarter was a difficult one for Bristol, in a match this close the first team to falter were going to struggle and after a couple of missed opportunities to score for Bristol, UWE began to pull away. Kate Skuse displayed a masterclass of one handed catches right on the backline at goal shooter, but it wasn’t enough to pull it back before half time, 21-14.

Defensively both sides were impressive in the third quarter and it took a few minutes for the first goal to be scored. The crowd were getting louder by this point, with each interception met by a roar from each side’s respective fans. Still end to end, the match remained close, with another equal quarter, but this wasn’t enough for Bristol who still trailed by seven goals, with the score now 30-23.

UWE supporters were considerably more vocal now and a seven goal deficit was certainly no easy task for the Bristol team. For a short while it looked like the comeback was on, Bristol came out fighting and narrowed the gap to five goals, then four and the once complacent UWE fans were getting nervous, but it wasn’t to be. Two crucial shots missed by Bristol opened the gate for UWE who took advantage and regained their more comfortable lead.

There was late drama just minutes before full time, however, as two UWE players collided head first, leaving one of them on the ground, unmoving. The crowd fell silent as she received treatment, but thankfully she walked off court, without any serious damage.

The game restarted and Bristol threw everything at it, but that second quarter deficit was just too much to overcome. Final score- 36-30 to UWE.

Featured image: Bristol SU / Facebook

The next event in the Varsity Series is The Big Varsity Colour Run on March 3rd.

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