In an industry reeking of male dominance, it is interesting to watch a sport in a room full of female supporters. Not only that, but to watch a team whose male counterpart does not exist, enabling the women’s team to have their chance to shine for the whole of the university instead of succeeding in the shadow of their male counterpart.
Netball is a game that isn’t very well recognised in the sporting industry, potentially due to its lack of male presence, but it is one that women seem to excel in. There’s a combination of teamwork, running, passing, and shooting with many rules that sports like football and hockey do not seem to have. Women have a particular knack for lifting each other up when the odds are stacked against them, something that is useful in a sport like netball where a team can go from winning to losing in a matter of minutes.
However, this is not a problem that the St Andrews women’s first team have faced in this season’s BUCS league. After their staggering 74-46 victory against Herriot Watt’s first team on Saturday, the girls are sitting at the top of the BUCS league on nine points, having not lost a single one of their games — towering over the rest of the table with their 75-point goal difference, whilst the rest of them teams are struggling to get out of a negative GD.
With quite a crowd gathered to watch the girls play, they did not disappoint. Starting the game strong by the end of the first quarter they were already nine points ahead, with the score at 21-12.
Heading into the second quarter Herriot Watt were reluctant to give up, scoring within the first few seconds and putting the score at 21-13. Yet, the Saints were not letting their impressive lead slip, instantly playing the ball to the other end of the court with an immediate goal, 22-13.
A throw in from the Saints only got the ball to the centre of the court where play switched over to Herriot Watt and they managed to put another past the girls, 22-14.
Again, the Saints immediately shifted into gear and some great play from the girls matched Herriot Watt’s goal, putting another in the net, 23-14. Some excellent defending by the Saints saw play move back into Herriot Watt’s half once again, where the ball went out for a Saints throw leading to another goal for the girls. 24-14. Another two in quick succession from Goal Shooter Laura Dewhurst put the girls up by 12 points with the score at 26-14.
Play began again from the centre and travelling from the Saints gave play away to Herriot Watt as they made their way into the Saints half, but with some excellent defending from goal defence Sally Sandison, the Saints managed to play the ball back down the court and into a dangerous area for Herriot Watt, and dangerous it was with the Saints bagging three goals in quick succession.
As Herriot Watt headed, once again, into the Saints half and towards the net, travelling switched play back over to the Saints and into Herriot Watt’s half. Narrowly missing two shots, Herriot Watt tried to grab the rebound without any success and the third attempt from the girls went in, 30-14.
Some great pressure from the Saints in their own semi-circle led to a penalty for Herriot Watt, but they could not quite manage to get a much-needed goal. After a great pass from wing defence Leah Allcock, play moved back up the court and another goal for the Saints made it 31-14.
Back down the court once again, Herriot Watt managed to finally put one past the Saints but a quick turnaround saw the girls back into Herriot Watt’s semi-circle managing to get another three points in quick succession once again, taking the Saints points to over double that of Herriot Watt’s at 34-15.
As play continued Herriot Watt managed to secure another penalty and after missing the shot and the rebound an eventual goal saw them trying to close the points gap. But the Saints played the ball right back up the court again to secure another point. However, Herriot Watt were not giving up and they too managed to score another two in quick succession taking the score to 36-18 as the end of the second quarter approached.
A third goal from Herriot Watt saw them itching to close the 18-point gap but a great pass from centre Anouska Nicholls moved the ball into Herriot Watt’s half, amounting to another goal for the Saints. As play continued Herriot Watt put three goals past St Andrews, putting the score at 39-22 with Saints making one last attempt to score as the buzzer sounded to mark the end of the second quarter and the half way point of the game.
As play resumed the girls looked in good spirits and they instantly made their presence known with an immediate goal. But Herriot Watt went back up the other end, also scoring almost instantly, to make it 40-23. With both teams scoring within the first few minutes the score was 43-25 and the Saints were still dominating play. Another nine points from the Saints and six from Herriot Watt and the score was 49-29, with the girls maintaining a strong 20-point lead.
A penalty for Herriot Watt that initially missed, managed to find its way in on the rebound as they attempted to close the gap, but a penalty from the Saint’s goal attack Caitlin Evans made the score 50-30.
Herriot Watt managed to put another five goals past the Saints, whilst the girls only managed three. This put the score at 53-35 as the penultimate quarter drew to a close. A great play from wing attack Lauren Coull enabled another goal from Dewhurst. Obstruction from Herriot Watt again saw a Saints goal and the third quarter finished 53-35 with the Saints firmly maintaining their lead.
The final quarter began with another strong start from the Saints; an immediate goal put the girls up 56-35. A throw in from the Saints in Herriot Watt’s third saw Evans go very close. Herriot Watt managed punish that miss, quickly scoring. But St Andrews were not willing to let their lead go, managing to score another four points.
The Saints continued to maintain their lead, putting another nine goals in the net; Herriot Watt only managed to score five. With the score sitting at 65-40, Herriot Watt moved into St Andrews’ third with some great leaning from goalkeeper Emily Males but she could not quite manage to fend off another Herriot Watt goal. Keeping the streak going, Herriot Watt managed to put another three past the Saints. The score did not remain at 65-43 for long, with the Saints scoring another three points, 68-43.
More excellent play saw the Saints getting another past Herriot Watt, quickly followed by another. But not before Herriot Watt could put one past the girls. With only 90 seconds left to play another point from Herriot Watt saw the score at 70-45 and it was clear who the winner was going to be. Another three points for the Saints, including a great pass from Evans helped Dewhurst score to put the score at 73-45. Play remained in Herriot Watt’s danger zone enabling the Saints to score a fourth, putting them 29 points ahead with 74, compared to Herriot Watt’s 45. An eventual penalty for Herriot Watt saw them scoring one final point before the buzzer sounded, marking the end of a thrilling game. Joyous celebrations from the girls on the court and the side lines marked an astounding win for the girls.
Saturday’s win sees the girls remaining comfortably at the top of the BUCS league. After only finishing third last season, their current performance marks an improvement in their ability since last year and Saturday’s game is certainly a precursor for an incredible season to come.