A crushing win by Birmingham’s Netball 1s yesterday at Intercept see the Lions straight through to the National Championship Final.
In front of a home crowd, Birmingham never looked like losing. Right from the first centre pass, the Lions kept Exeter out, piling on the defensive pressure and forcing Exeter to make riskier passes. Goal Defence Kate Henshall’s incredible interception early on in the first quarter set the tone as Birmingham looked to start strong. The defence continued to make Exeter’s life difficult, forcing many errors and allowing the Lions to start pulling away. By the end of the first quarter, Birmingham were leading the way 14-3.
Into the second quarter, Goal Shooter Kat Short was still going strong. Birmingham looked firmly in control and starting to settle into their rhythm. Some fantastic plays in centre court from Ruth Hughes (Centre) and Captain Jessie Ducker (Wing Attack) kept the Birmingham shooters well fed. Hughes and Ducker’s partnership was unmatched by the Exeter defence who couldn’t seem to keep up with the pair in mid-court. After Goal Attack Sophie Jackson’s interception stopped Exeter from gaining another goal, Birmingham finished the second quarter 26-7.
The half-time show once again saw an incredible performance from the Birmingham Pussycats cheer squad. The crowd in Munrow Arena was thoroughly entertained by the Pussycats who have really made their mark at the Super Series this year. Even Rory the Lion got involved!
The beginning of the third quarter after half time saw one change for Birmingham with Rosie Gray coming on at Wing Defence. She immediately made an impact by forcing a turnover just as Exeter were trying to make a strong start to the second half of the game. President Lottie Robinson continued to force the Exeter Goal Shooter out of the circle, keeping Exeter’s score down as the third quarter continued. Once again, Short stayed calm and collected, maintaining her shooting to the highest possible level. Even Exeter’s change in Goal Keeper couldn’t keep her out of the circle for long. The end of the third quarter ended 41-16 and a tired looking Exeter side trudged back to their dugout, seemingly demoralised.
Quarter four unfortunately started with an injury for Birmingham with Georgia Pexton taking a nasty fall. After a brief pause in proceedings to help Pexton off the court to assess her knee injury, the game resumed with Exeter coming out of the gates strong. It took a little while for Birmingham to find their stride again, no doubt shaken from Pexton’s injury, but the Lions soon settled back into their usual rhythm. Birmingham made several other changes throughout the last quarter, seeming to rotate their squad nicely to give everyone some court time. Exeter did manage to find some traction throughout this quarter, pulling their score up from their disappointing first three quarters. However, it wasn’t enough to stop Birmingham who finished the match 58-31.
Next up for the Lions, they face Hertfordshire 1s in the National Championship Final on Wednesday 23 March. Hertfordshire, who took everyone by surprise by beating Loughborough in their semi-final, were undefeated in their league and so will be tough competition for the Lions heading into the final. Make sure you catch it!