The Shetland county netball teams had mixed fortunes in their matches against Orkney at the weekend in Kirkwall’s Pickaquoy Centre. A large home crowd was present to witness their B team go down 49-37 to Shetland but the Orkney A team reversed the result with a 41-38 victory.
Shetland B 49, Orkney B 37
The first quarter saw both teams take time to settle with nerves on display as passes went astray before reaching the shooting circle.
Orkney opened the scoring and had a chance to go two goals up but a snatched rebound by Shetland GK Jennifer Thomson thwarted the attempt. As the ball was fed up court Dawn Manson scored the first Shetland goal and helped settle the nerves.
Shetland went ahead by three goals but too many unforced errors in mid court allowed Orkney to come back with veteran shooter Karen Burns helping her team draw level at 6-6.
Accurate shooting by Marie Clark again saw Shetland pull ahead to three goals but failed to capitalise at their centres as once again Orkney pulled back to be only one goal down at the end of the first period.
The second quarter Orkney took the lead scoring the next two goals. Shetland’s mid-court pairing of Hazel Uren and Catherine Williamson found their form and together with Clark the attack now looked relaxed as fast-flowing, accurate passing began to be established.
A few missed chances in the Orkney circle gave the Shetland shooters the chance to pull ahead and by half time they had a comfortable lead of seven goals.
The third period saw changes to Orkney’s defence as they attempted to break up the Shetland attack. However, by now the blues were in control with the third period turning out to be the deciding quarter. Defensively Shetland piled on the pressure forcing several turnovers against the Orkney attack. Louise Moar and Thomson were now in control of the circle, intercepting well and with Maree Simpson expertly feeding the ball from defence to attack the confidence in the Shetland team was now evident to all. A 15-goal lead was the margin going into the final quarter.
Simpson was replaced by junior player Inga Woods at the start of the final period and an ankle injury in the second minute to Marie Clark meant another junior Ava Sim came on – both players receiving their first cap. The Orkney team did not want the lead to increase and played their best netball of the game in this quarter. However, Shetland were not fazed, converting goals from their centre pass to win the Inga Manson Cup by a 12-goal margin.
Shetland: Dawn Manson (GS); Marie Clark (GA); Hazel Uren (WA); Catherine Williamson (C); Maree Simpson (WD); Louise Moar (GD); Jenifer Thomson (GK). Reserves: Inga Woods (WD), Marie Clark (GA) and Alison Hunter.
Shooting statistics: Dawn Manson 24/28 – 85 per cent; Marie Clark 22/27 – 81 per cent; Ava Sim 3/4 – 75 per cent.
A delighted Shetland captain Marie Clark received the cup from Orkney sponsor Bob Clouston. In a great team performance all the players deserve credit, but worthy of a special mention were Catherine Williamson and Dawn Manson.
Orkney A 41, Shetland 38
Right from the whistle the blues knew they were in for a tough game as the reds began strongly, marking tightly in all areas of the court.
Shetland struggled on their centre passes and very soon Orkney had opened up a lead. The Orkney shooters saw more of the ball and gained a seven-goal lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second period saw Christine Jamieson replace Eileen Robertson at WA due to a hand injury and slowly they began to get to grips with the power and strength of their opponents. Vicky Henderson led the attack with captain Sarah Grogan and Kirsti Leask standing up well to the physical challenges being dished out in the circle. Linda Thomson, playing her first county game, also began to settle helping to move the ball from defence into attack.
The Orkney shooting duo of Michelle Clouston and Kari Taylor were on top form, shooting from all areas of the court and proving to be tricky opponents for Shetland defenders Sarah Kay and Emma Gray. Shetland reduced the lead to five goals at half-time.
Shetland had the upper hand in the centre third in the third quarter as Henderson and Jamieson’s fitness began to play an important part over their opposite numbers. The comeback had the away support on their feet and the physical nature of the game had not only the crowd roaring but the coaches also shouting out their frustrations. Kay had a few spectacular interceptions from long passes which she read perfectly and Shetland trailed by four goals going into the final quarter.
With everything to play for the final period was a nervy affair as Shetland began the stronger with Leask taking the lead shooting role with Grogan turning provider. Their hard work paid off as Shetland came to be one goal behind at 35-36 and having the next centre pass.
Then came a howler as, in an off the ball incident, the umpire pulled up a stationary Leask for contact and awarded a penalty pass to the reds. Credit to the blues as they regrouped and maintained their focus to again get to one goal 37-38. However, it was a little too late as the Orkney team hung on to their lead to win.
Shetland: Kirsti Leask (GS); Sarah Grogan (GA); Eileen Robertson (WA); Vicki Henderson (C); Linda Thomson (WD); Emma Gray (GD); Sarah Kay (GK). Reserves: Christine Jamieson (WA), Louise Fraser and Fiona Dally Shooting statistics: Kirsti Leask 26/37 – 70 per cent; Sarah Grogan 12/16 – 75 per cent An ecstatic Orkney captain Shona Sclater received the Ernie Donaldson shield from the man himself and paid tribute to her team for playing so well in a hard-fought encounter.
Shetland coach Valerie Morrison, when asked about the lack of whistle especially concerning the footwork rule and the replayed ball rule, refused to comment. She congratulated Shona and her team for their win and paid tribute to Orkney coaches Catherine Johnson and Julie Tait.
Shetland coach Judy Fraser praised the Shetland team’s performance, saying they had remained focused throughout and kept their discipline which had been a great achievement.
A spokeswoman said Shetland Ladies Netball Association would like to thank Orkney for hosting the event and for the kind hospitality shown to the Shetland team over the weekend.