SHETLAND convincingly reclaimed the Stuart Cup on Friday with a comfortable win in the pool over Orkney’s junior inter-county swimmers.
The isles lost the trophy for the first time since the early 1990s in Kirkwall last year, but a huge turnaround in fortunes saw them claim victory this year by some 69 points. Victory in the pool events by 58 points to 36 gave Shetland an overall victory of 236-167.
Having lost 4-1 in the hockey, the hosts recovered with a barnstorming 5-1 win over Orkney’s footballers last Wednesday. They then triumphed 119-75 in the rain-sodden athletics programme on Thursday afternoon before going down 31-29 in netball that evening.
Shetland 29, Orkney 31
THE GAME took place at Clickimin in front of a hall packed with spectators eager to see these two teams do battle following an unforgettable draw in Orkney last year.
Shetland won the toss and started confidently with Lynne Strachan (GS) quickly scoring the first goal. Orkney equalised from their centre pass then intercepted the Shetland attack to take the lead.
Another goal from Orkney saw a two-goal lead emerge before Shetland got under way, scoring the next two goals to level at 3-3.
Orkney, playing a confident passing game and defending tightly, went on to score the next three goals putting Shetland on the back foot. Shetland responded with Kristen Jeromson (GD) making an excellent interception and Marianne Williamson (GA) converting to a goal. However, Orkney’s defence stepped up a gear putting pressure on the Shetland attack.
The first quarter saw Orkney’s GA Kari Taylor score with 100 per cent accuracy helping the visitors take a 10-6 lead, with the Shetland team looking unsettled and disjointed as they left the court.
Surprisingly no changes were made to the Shetland line-up at the start of the second quarter and with Orkney now brimming with confidence, passing with ease and working well in defence to stop the Shetland attack reaching the shooting circle, the determined team scored a run of seven goals.
Strachan, in an attempt to break Orkney’s dominance, began to move out of the circle to aid the mid-court players, but more often than not the final pass into the circle was rushed and possession lost.
Credit must go the Shetland defence who remained focused during this quarter with Margaret Johnston (GK), playing in her first county match, making several interceptions and moving the ball out of defence ably assisted by Jeromson (GD), but at half-time Shetland were losing 21-9.
With nothing to lose, changes were made to the Shetland line-up. Christine Jamieson replaced Marianne Williamson as GA and Emma Leask replaced Lisa Haining as WD. This had an immediate effect on the team and at the first centre they took full advantage with a Jeromson pass from centre third to Jamieson in the shooting circle. Despite an attempt to intercept by Inga Kemp (GD), the loose ball was snatched by Kylie Wood (C) and passed to Strachan to mark the start of the Shetland comeback.
Orkney’s defence seemed unsettled following the change in Shetland’s shooting circle and they seemed unable to close down their energetic opponents. Five goals in a row followed for Shetland with Lauren Smith (WA), Wood, Jamieson and Strachan now finding form.
Shetland’s defence of Leask, Johnston and Jeromson continued to work hard, making several key interceptions and marking tightly breaking down the fluent play seen in the first half by the Orcadian shooting pairing of Hannah Nixon (GS) and Kari Taylor (GA). The score stood at 26-18 to Orkney going into the final quarter.
Another change to the Shetland line-up was made as Ava Sim came on to replace Lauren Smith at WA and Orkney swapped Julie Campbell (WA) with Caron Bews at centre.
With fresh legs in attack Shetland’s play went from strength to strength and the backing of a noisy home crowd seemed to spur them on. Wood worked well to link the defence and attack, with great support from Emma Leask and Jeromson. Jamieson (GA) and Strachan (GS) were controlling the shooting circle and scoring some fantastic long-range goals.
The Shetland team began to reduce the deficit in an amazing comeback. The final three minutes saw four goals scored by Shetland, bringing the score to 28-26. Orkney followed this with a run of three goals, to bring the score to 31-26 to the visitors.
Shetland remained determined and managed to notch up another three goals. Unfortunately, as the final whistle blew Orkney had won by two goals, ending 31-29 to Orkney.
This match turned out to be a game of two halves with Orkney dominating in the first and Shetland staging an inspiring fightback in the second. A relieved, exhausted and ecstatic Kari Taylor received the Hay & Company Netball Trophy on behalf of the Orkney team from Mandy Henderson.