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Gibraltar netball finish fourth after defeat against hosts IOM

Gibraltar found hosts Isle
Of Man too hot to handle this Sunday as they toppled to finish fourth in the Europe Netball Open Challenge.
A string of errors, intense pressure from the hosts who had something to proof and some dubious decisions in the first quarter saw Gibraltar give away an eleven point gap which was to set the tone for the rest of the match.
The IOM, with a vociferous crowd behind them and playing on home soil against a team who was ranked ten places below but had beaten them on Thursday came out in fighting spirit.
Gibraltar, after an intense late battle against UAE the previous night and hampered by injuries Looked nervy from the start and succumbing to the pressure.
Although Amy Pozo was back on the bench even though she had bruised ribs from a knock during the match against Cayman Islands, Sarah Payas opted to start with Mae Truman-Davies, a testament to the young players performances In previous matches. She was, alongside Megan Martinez with all eyes on the two players as Gibraltar bid for a third place finish against the Isle of Man. The two shooters although performing well not seeing the opportunities as everyone had hoped to make a difference as Gibraltar succumbed to the pressure from IOM.
Gibraltar had beaten the hosts last Thursday by three points in a thriller. This however, became one of the big obstacles as the host were already rattled by Gibraltar and would not be willing to see a repeat of the result in front of their home crowd.
It was not the start Gibraltar wanted losing possession from the first second and seeing the host take the first point.
Unlike Thursday the Isle of Man were 4-0 up within minutes.
Megan Martinez was to get Gibraltar on the scoreboard with four minutes gone.
A rampant IOM maintained their lead before Gibraltar struck again via Truman-Davies to make it 5-2.
In a reversal of Thursdays start Gibraltar we’re behind 7-2 after five minutes.
Gibraltar upped their game, Moreno pushing her team forward with Macquisten producing a good intercept to provide the play for Gibraltar’s third, but just as quickly IOM struck their ninth.
Megan Martinez kept her head to give Gibraltar a response keeping the score at the 5 to 6 points gap momentarily.
Pushed by a home crowd the hosts opened the gap to a 13-5 with five minutes remaining for the first quarter.
With the pressure from IOM high Gibraltar lost ground as they ended the first quarter facing a 19-8 first quarter deficit. Gibraltar’s first quarter seeing a string of mistakes which hampered their progress.
Gibraltar started to find their game in the second quarter going point to point and the defence winning rebounds to bring the score to 21-12.
With Gibraltar getting past the mistakes in the first quarter the match became a tight high octane battle which saw the score at 22-13 halfway through the quarter. A major reduction in the IOM’s scoring rate in comparison to the first quarter.
The IOM picked up their game as they entered the final five minutes before halftime and regained their eleven point difference.
A good response from Gibraltar with a long pass and some good screening ensured they kept the IOM from going ahead going point for point initially. The IOM, however took advantage of a couple mistakes and stepped ahead to 28-14 with a minute left for halftime. Gibraltar scoring the final point in the half to bring it to 28-15.
Gibraltar brought on Megan Ruiz and Chloe Hernandez as they aimed to change the way the match was going.
Ruiz scoring on her first attempt as she partnered with Truman-Davies.
Although unable to find the way to get into the game to cut the deficit Gibraltar kept battling on even as they saw the host increase their lead further. Halfway through the quarter IOM ahead by 34-17.
Gibraltar’s defence getting a battering at the same time. Ocana walking off after getting injured and Macquisten colliding against the post but somehow maintaining herself in the game. The match although based on no-contact certainly seeing many moments which see players nursing their bruises.
Gibraltar brought on Pozo and Martinez. Pozo who was herself just coming back after getting injured against Cayman Islands and found herself in a bruising contest in the circle. Martinez at one time finding herself crashing into the post from the pressure from IOM’s defence. The duo nevertheless adding to Gibraltar’s points but seeing the IOM going to 38-22 with just over minute of the quarter to go.
The IOM finished the quarter 40-22 ahead with the host steaming ahead highlighting how they had no intent on letting up after having lost their first encounter in front of their home crowd.
Gibraltar on the other hand found the intense pressure a step to far on the day with the physicality of the match, the decisions going against them and some of the unforced errors piling the pressure further on them as they found themselves 40-22 behind.
The hosts maintained their pressure into the final quarter going 48-26 ahead by halfway into the final quarter. Gibraltar, with a twelve point deficit and playing against the host already looked to have accepted they would be no big comeback. However, in true Campion style they fought for every ball and looked to halt the IOM from going too far ahead.
As Europe Netball commentators claimed “Gibraltarians don’t know how to give up,” to the last play Gibraltar’s Campions contesting every ball as they fell 53-31.
Captain Joelle Moreno was later to admit that the team had started badly with too many errors. The Gibraltar captain also highlighting that the lack of matches prior to tournaments to play at this level was among one of the crucial factors affecting their progress.
Gibraltar finished fourth in this years Europe Netball Open Challenge.
Although having faced defeat against the IOM and UAE, Gibraltar’s initial success at the start of the tournament against the IOM (23) who are better ranked than Gibraltar, and both Cayman Islands (26) and Switzerland (not yet ranked) should see Gibraltar’s ranking increase from its present 33rd position.

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