SportsReach Netball League
Cup and Plate Finals
The final night of the 2016/17 season and two matches of fantastic quality graced the evening as the Plate and Cup finals were played out on a beautiful spring evening at Ripley with the sun casting long shadows across the courts.
First up was the Plate final between Chipping MereCats and Lancaster Royals. Royals had gone the season unbeaten, gaining their second promotion in two seasons and they look certain to provide tough opposition in Division one next season. MereCats had finished their season on a high, flying up the table in the second half of the season to claim third in division two and they were in no mood to stand and watch the game pass them by as their namesakes may be known for! Although Royals looked favourites for the throne, MereCats would prove to be worthy contenders. Both teams battled hard in the first quarter and there was nothing between them with the score tied at 8 – 8 at the break. Royals then began to show their class and produced a regal performance over the next two quarters to stretch their lead to 20 – 15 and then to 31 – 23 with one quarter to go. Their GS and GA missed nothing in those quarters and stood out in a match which was a very high scoring affair, with all the shooters being on great form. MereCats fought back in the last quarter but couldn’t claw back enough to prevent Royals from claiming the crown! Royals 40 – 32 MereCats.
In the Cup Final that followed, another unbeaten team Garstang Diamonds were slight favourites against Chipping TopCats. First and second in division one had battled against each other all season for the top spot in the league and were set to do so again in a much anticipated final. And it certainly lived up to all expectations!
In the Plate it was the attacks that were on top, but in the cup, TopCats defence were resolute as they held Diamonds to just one goal in the first quarter. The twin attack of TopCats managed to score seven goals to lead 7 – 1 at the end of the first quarter. They had pounced on a slow start from Diamonds and the second quarter continued in a similar way with a total shut out from TopCats defence! Diamonds were thankful that their defence of Megan and Anna managed to restrict Ruth and Sarah to just three goals also in that quarter. 10 – 1 at half time. Diamonds showed their quality in the next quarter though and really turned up the heat producing the form that had seen them win the league, as Gill drove them on from centre, Laura and Freya beginning to find the net scored several without reply and it began to look as if they were going to turn the game on its head! Jayno and Sue, excellent in defence, responded and steadied the ship for TopCats and although Diamonds won the quarter 7 – 3, TopCats still had a five-goal lead (13 – 8) to take into the last quarter. If Diamonds could keep up the scintillating form in the last quarter though, it was going to be a very close end to the match. However, TopCats rallied and matched everything Diamonds threw at them in the last quarter with both teams playing on the top of their game, scoring alternately until finally the extra effort Diamonds had put in in the third quarter began to tell and TopCats calmed the play down keeping possession with Lottie, Rosanna and Jen constantly moving to always provide an option for the person in possession. TopCats deservedly on the night took the Cup for the third year running winning 18 – 13.
It was a tremendous game to end a brilliant season and whets the appetite for the tournament in June and for the league next season. Well done to the managers, Sue and Katie, and to both teams who gave everything in front of a good crowd of spectators and a huge thanks to the umpires who did a great job too.
In between the two finals, Andrew Towers from Carnforth, who has been involved with SportsReach for many years, gave a great Gospel message. As a frustrated Everton fan growing up in the eighties (nothings changed for Everton fans since!) he eagerly followed the sports news on Ceefax (a sort of newspaper on TV prior to Google J). It would give info on team news, with tantalising headlines such as “Everton linked with Brazilian striker” and invited viewers to call a club line to find out more. Andrew often called this number, without his parent’s knowledge, until he realised that BT did itemised bills! Sadly he only realised BT did itemised bills when his dad was stood in front of him with a sheet of paper questioning him about a rather substantial bill with a lot of calls made to the same number, which it turned out to be, was the Everton club-line! He had run up a huge debt without realising it! A debt he certainly couldn’t pay. Andrew shared how we also have run up a debt, a debt the Bible calls sin, and most of us are unaware of the consequences of it. We all have sinned and know when we have done wrong as our consciences tell us. It is a huge debt we can’t possibly pay either. But there is good news. Andrew’s dad paid his debt because he loved his son, and God paid our debt when His son Jesus died on the cross because He loves us. Have we accepted that we have a debt and have we received that forgiveness that is available to us through Jesus if we only seek Him?