Gibraltar netball head into play-offs unbeaten after a 62-26 victory
Gibraltar booked their place in the play-offs for Sunday’s final after demolishing the Cayman Islands in a similar fashion as they had done against Switzerland earlier in the day.
Another impressive performance provided Gibraltar with a victory which keeps them unbeaten in the group stage. They will now face a strong UAE side in the semi-finals which will decide who heads into the finals on Sunday.
Gibraltar lined up with a strong team on court against Cayman Islands. Megan Martinez opened the scoring after an intense minute of play in which Ocana’s intercept provided the opportunity to score. Gibraltar scoring their second immediately before Cayman Island scored.
The intensity of the match was evident from the start with Gibraltar needing to adapt to the height of Cayman Island defence.
Gibraltar nevertheless opened a lead going to 4-1 with some patient, composed play and sharpshooting.
A great turnover and some points without response saw Gibraltar open their lead further to 7-2.
Once again Gibraltar’s defensive response was turning over balls as they read the game well. However, Cayman Island were still showing they could produce the goods scoring when they received even though Gibraltar had already gone to a 9-3 lead halfway through the first quarter.
Gibraltar stretched their lead to 11-4 with five minutes of the first quarter to play. Forcing Cayman Islands to hurry and play on taking advantage of mistakes. Gibraltar’s pressure dictating the gameplay in Gibraltar’s favour through some shrewd gameplay.
With the sharpshooters for Gibraltar, both Pozo and Martinez, then Ruiz, on top form Gibraltar finished the first quarter leading 4-17.
Pozo had to be replaced towards the last minute after taking a tumble with Ruiz coming in.
An impressive first quarter provided evidence that the Campions focus on ensuring they remained unbeaten had not waned even though favourites to win the group already before the start.
Knowing that a win would take them against a physically strong UAE, Gibraltar knew that injuries could prove crucial. This was not to play a part in the lineup for the second period with Gibraltar keeping the same players they finished the first period with. However, Sarah Payas used the next quarters to test new player combinations.
The Caymans started the second period scoring the first two points before Gibraltar responded.
Cayman were dealt a blow with Logan walking off injured.
This allowed Gibraltar to return to the momentum they had set in the first quarter as they notched the points and went to a 21-6 lead, stalling Cayman Islands. The latter was to score a brilliant distance seventh point but saw Gibraltar respond with a quick point themselves.
With some well created feeding of the ball supported by a fluidity which was finding a passage through to the shooters Gibraltar kept their pace to make it 9-25 with five minutes before half time.
Although Gibraltar’s scoring rate had been slowed they continued to dominate with their presence on the court.
Cayman Islands who came into the match with some injuries from their morning match saw further injuries before half time.
The score line was running away from Cayman Island as Gibraltar took their lead to 10-30 as they reached the halfway stage. Providing Gibraltar breathing space which they used to introduce players such as Chloe Hernandez, Janice Moreno and Truman-Davies.
The latter scoring two consecutive points quickly with Ruiz adding a third and fourth within the first three minutes of the third quarter.
The changes did little to slow Gibraltar down with Janice Moreno seeing a lot of the ball as Gibraltar continued to deliver fluidity in their play. The quick passing leaving the Cayman Islands struggling as Gibraltar steamed to a 10-40 lead at the halfway stage of the third quarter.
Even reaching the 10-42 and with Cayman Islands not providing any real challenge under the hoop calls from the bench continued calling for the Campions to keep their momentum.
The Caymans finally scored with six minutes left of the quarter. With little of a challenge on the court the passage towards a high scoring margin seemed set down as Gibraltar flew to reach the fifty point mark before the end of the third quarter.
Gibraltar finishing with a 15-51 lead at the end of third quarter.
Sarah Payas made changes for the fourth quarter with Ferrer coming on but leaving Truman-Davies and Ruiz, now as wing attack on the court as the formation was switched around.
The unusual formation provided a further opportunity for Sarah Payas to test her options during a competitive match rather than just on the practice court.
The new option was to prove just as effective against a now demoralised Cayman Island who continued to be met with some very effective defensive play and a continuous stream of goals.
With nine minutes still left Gibraltar were already 19-56 ahead and looking capable of repeating the high scores seen in the morning session.
The Caymans Islands did find the net more than their earlier quarter as they chased for the 25 points.
Gibraltar although easing their pace somewhat did keep up the pressure with Cayman Island getting their 25 points one minute towards the end. Gibraltar already at 62 points.
Gibraltar winning 62-26 and now due to face the UAE at 4pm Gibraltar time.
Images courtesy of GNA