Durham Netball 3s vs York 1s – 32-33
DU Netball 3s pulled off one of the shocks of the season with an extraordinary win against York 1s in the Northern Conference Cup. The victory was sealed with the final throw of the game, as the imperious Charlotte Drury held her nerve to score a penalty, triggering jubilant cheers that raised the roof at Maiden Castle.
Going into the game, Durham were the clear underdogs as they sat two divisions below their opponents. Furthermore, Durham 2s had lost the previous week to the same York team 42-39. However with a huge proportion of the DU Netball squad on the sidelines vociferously cheering on the 3s, confidence was instilled that an upset was possible.
The first quarter was a fairly even affair but York vindicated their reputation as favourites, playing some clinical netball to edge into the lead. Nevertheless, Durham responded well to going behind and prevented York pulling away, consistently responding with goals from Earwalker and Drury up front. By the halfway point, the scores were level at 16-16.
It was the action in the second half of this game which made it a classic. The lead changed hands several times as York were rattled by Durham’s free scoring forwards. At 21-21, York seemed to stabilise and managed to go 23-21 ahead. Yet in another act of defiance that was typical of the superb performance by the 3s, Durham refused to collapse. Not only did they level the scores, the Palatinates ended the third quarter in the lead 24-23. Maiden Castle dared to believe a giantkilling was on the cards.
The final quarter was a chaotic blur of point scoring from both teams. Within minutes, the scores were even at 27 apiece. At this point, Durham dug deep to produce a heroic final flourish and sneak into a 30-28 lead.
This provoked York to throw the kitchen sink at the underdogs as they attempted to salvage the game. Against waves of relentless attacking pressure, the Palatinates stood strong, with Bryrony Freer exceptionally neutralising at least three York attacks in the space of a minute.
With minutes to go, there was major controversy. In a scramble by the Durham goal, the referee blew her whistle to signal there had been footwork by a York player, meaning Durham should have been returned the ball. In the melee, a Durham player had been injured and required treatment. Following the subsequent delay, the call had been forgotten and York were allowed to continue in possession, to the outrage of the Durham bench.
However, befitting of the Palatinates wonderful performance, they had one last trick up their sleeves. Durham surged forward and levelled the scores. 32-32 with one minute to go. The tension in the room could have been cut with a knife.
With five seconds, York clumsily gave away a penalty. The undisputed player of the match, Charlotte Drury stepped up. Many on the sidelines could not watch but the GS showed no sign of nerves. She slotted the penalty home to ecstatic scenes, as she was mobbed by the DU Netball squad.
A truly momentous victory and a huge scalp for the 3s. The victory was also made that much sweeter due to the return of Sophie Bingham, who was playing her first game in two years following an ACL injury. A fantastic day all around for DU Netball. Roll on the next round.
Photograph: Kathyrn McCloskey