Netball - Gibraltar show grit against Northern Ireland
There was little doubt that Gibraltar was going to allow Northern a Ireland another free run to victory as had been seen on Friday.
Having learnt from their first encounter Gibraltar did the initial bidding keeping the NI Warriors to a 2-2 within the first five minutes and only starting to see Northern Ireland open a gap in points after eight minutes play as they went to 2-8 in the lead before Gibraltar responded in the final three minutes of the quarter with their own two to put the score at 4-8.
This was a chance for some of the young guns in the squad to shine with Truman-Davies starting upfront alongside Pozo. In defence McQuisten replacing an injured Rovegno the young defender putting in a superb first quarter to close down Northern Ireland and keep them to just the thirteen goals.
As a ranking match between the eleventh ranked against the 32nd ranked side in the world netball rankings there had been little expectation of a surprise result.
This was, for Gibraltar, an opportunity to play one of the top teams as part of their development and challenge themselves on court against top class opposition.
Gibraltar was playing a tighter game with some gritty defending and running through the middle. However, facing an experienced defence which responded with quick transition into attack Gibraltar stalled at six goals. Gibraltar, nevertheless, also reduced Northern Ireland to 22 goals with seven minutes of the second quarter left.
Pozo was to score Gibraltar’s next, matched immediately by Northern Ireland to make it 7-23 with six minutes left to half time.
Patient netball and a very determined display ensured that Gibraltar challenged Northern Ireland on the court Gibraltar reducing Northern Ireland to head into halftime with just a 10-27 lead.
Although facing defeat Gibraltar’s crowd celebrated at halftime with volunteers, including the Gibraltar Netball Association President dancing.
Even Maggie Jackson joined in the celebrations at halftime as Gibraltar netball association joined by the teams preparing for the afternoon presentation celebrated in the festive spirit Gibraltar had been known for when hosting international netball events.
The celebrations had to be put on halt for a short while as the Gibraltar v Northern Ireland match entered into its third quarter.
The intensity on court was such that a usually calm Courtney Ferrer on winning ground to score gave a rare Yelp as Gibraltar scored its first of the quarter. With half the quarter ticking by fast Northern Ireland were 34-12 ahead but facing a very determined Gibraltar.
Courtney was to produce some creative movements which opened ground for Joelle Moreno to find Pozo for the fourteenth goal as Gibraltar entered into a period of flowing passes. Northern Ireland regained possession but found Mcquisten equal in defence to deny them. A superb feed from Moreno to Courtney Ferrer providing Gibraltar’s fifteenth. Northern Ireland responded as the score went to 15-37 with two and a half minutes left for the end of the quarter.
The third quarter was to finish Gibraltar 16-39 Northern Ireland. Positive play and an opportunity to try out their tactical play against opposition such as Northern Ireland who required the ranking points to secure a place in the Commonwealth Games provided some very positive moments for Gibraltar.
The emergence of players such as Mcquisten in defence alongside Gillingwater both during the tournament and in the match against Northern Ireland would have also provided further confidence for Gibraltar into the future. With Gibraltar also likely to see Lindsay Ocana return Gibraltar’s match against Northern Ireland was already part of the rebuilding into the future.
In the first eight minutes of the final quarter only four goals were scored sharing two each. Highlighting the high calibre of defensive play seen during the match.
With just two minutes left Gillingwater had to be replaced by Ruiz after sustaining an injury. Her contribution in defence throughout the six matches since Thursday praised by many.
Gibraltar although facing a 20-51 defeat would have walked away with their heads held high having bettered from their performance on Thursday against Northern Ireland. Reducing the score by nineteen points against that seen last Thursday after playing five competition matches within the two days between both matches Gibraltar could only feel proud for their effort and performance.