A tense finish for Gibraltar U17s on final match of tournament
Gibraltar Netball u17s lived a tense Sunday morning as they awaited for their final match of the Europe Netball U17 Challenge, the last match of the tournament itself.
They faced the Isle of Man who although with a better scoring record had been defeated by the same teams and beaten the same teams as Gibraltar.
The nerves and tensions were apparent from the warm-up with the Isle of Man on court whilst Gibraltar came on and off with their sessions. With a tense, nervous looking side as the crowds gathered.
Gibraltar started positively securing their first goal in their first attempt to open the scoring.
A tense tight contest was to start as the visitors levelled and took the lead.
Two misses under the basket with two intercepts returning possession ignited the drums in the stands.
Five minutes into the match and the score was static at 1-2 for IOM who only increased the points tally into the sixth minute.
It was not until they entered the eighth minute that Gibraltar scored their next. However, the score still at 2-3.
The IOM added a further point before Gibraltar added their third. With six minutes left in the quarter Gibraltar levelled to the roar of the crowd. Turning over play they tried to spread the distribution but were well intercepted in defence.
The visitors took advantage and produced their fifth but Gibraltar’s response was to level immediately at 5-5 with four minutes left.
Gibraltar and the IOM matches each other point for point again before the visitors opened a narrow lead and web 6-9 ahead.
Some quick thinking passes provided Gibraltar with the open space for a seventh. This provided them with the confidence to push for a quick eighth as they narrowed the distance to just the one point as they entered the first short break.
Europe Netball U17 Challenge - first quarter - Gibraltar 8-9 Isle of Man
After some dancing in the stands by Gibraltar supporters it was chants and play. Gibraltar levelling at 9-9 in the first attempt.
The Isle of Man responded with a quick delivery of their tenth. Again Gibraltar levelled at 10-10.
But again Gibraltar lost a chance to go ahead with errors giving the IOM the ball back.
This became costly moments as the IOM found their two point lead and then a three point lead after five minutes into the second quarter.
The IOM protected their three point lead and secured a five point lead as they stopped Gibraltar in their tracks momentarily to go 11-16 ahead at the midway stage of the quarter before Gibraltar responded.
The Isle of Man grew in confidence as they kept their lead finishing for the halftime break leading by seven points at 14-21, this now a blow to a Gibraltar’s confidence.
Europe Netball U17 Challenge - Half Time - Gibraltar 14-21 Isle of Man
It was the Isle of Man who were to increase their lead further from the start of the third quarter going to a 14-26 lead inside the first three minutes.
Struggling to reach the other end Gibraltar failed to convert their one chance within the first five minutes of the third quarter.
Instead they saw the visitors increase the distance between them to 14-28 before responding seven minutes into the quarter.
The next point for Gibraltar was a stunning throw which saw applause from the crowd. With another great goal Gibraltar closed the gap to a 17-29 but found how the visitors delivered two consecutive goals to cancel out their efforts.
More movement through the centre and increased momentum in finding space through the middle saw Gibraltar pressing on the visitors in the latter part of the quarter.
With four minutes left the visitors still led with a 19-31 scoreline in their favour.
Yet a combative Gibraltar was not raising a flag of surrender and kept searching to find a way back into the game. The third quarter finishing 19-32 in favour of the Isle of Man, the stands now totally filled by fans and the visiting teams awaiting the final traditional reception.
Europe Netball U17 Challenge - third quarter - Gibraltar 19-32 Isle of Man
The last fifteen minutes of the Europe Netball U17 tournament was Gibraltar U17s chance to show that they were on par with other teams at their level and looking to keep to a respectable final result.
Off the court Gibraltar Netball had shown it was up to the challenge of continuing to host big international events and better the experience on each occasion.
On the court, from the start of the final quarter, Gibraltar put their energies into delivering up to the final seconds of play. . Even though they knew it was inevitably going to end in defeat given the margin of difference on the scoreboard a combative Gibraltar kept pushing and pressing.
With the tournament providing a clear picture on the both the physical differences as well as the development differences between teams the U17 tournament acted as a gauging point for Gibraltar as it looks to develop into the future.
Tough lessons once again learnt with tough experiences in front of a home crowd.
Gibraltar was to face a final 27-44 defeat.
Europe Netball U17 Challenge - full time - Gibraltar 27-44 Isle of Man