In their last home game of the season, the Newcastle Eagles were taking on the undefeated first place Manchester Mystics team. After a great performance last week, the Eagles went into the game with confidence and were further boosted by the news that the Mystics were missing some key players.
In the first quarter, the Mystics struck first with the Eagles attempting to respond with some good give and goes but were unable to finish. The Mystics were being more clinical with their opportunities in the early stages and were leading 6-4 after 5 minutes. In the second part of the period, Mystics started to pull away and had easy opportunities on the offensive end. The Eagles were quite frankly being out-muscled on offence and looked weary in the face of a physical Manchester defence. With the Eagles struggling to score, their confidence dropped, and the away team capitalised with easy scores of their own. After the first quarter the Eagles were down 23-10.
In the second quarter, the Eagles were again making unforced errors and lacking the intensity on the defensive end which has reaped so many rewards this year. Against a team of this quality, they were made to pay dearly, and the Mystics further extended their lead to 48-16 at the half.
After a stern half time talk, the Eagles came out in the second half looking to put in a performance they could be proud of. They started the quarter well with two quick scores and were making things more difficult for the Mystics on the defensive end with much improved help and rebounding. They were still struggling to score, however, and the Mystics finished the quarter strong with a 6-0 run to take a 61-24 lead into the last 10 minutes.
In the fourth quarter, the Eagles managed to carve out more offensive opportunities against the Mystics, but they were unable to convert. On the defensive end, they were being more disruptive but again Manchester were very clinical with their opportunities and further stretched out the lead to finish the game 77-31.
It was a game of two halves for the Eagles this week. They were playing a weakened Manchester Mystics team, but Manchester showed why they are the best team in the league with great depth, aggressive defence and clinical finishing. The first half was a very disappointing performance by the Eagles standard. They lacked intensity and really didn’t compete. The second half was a different story and they played hard and more importantly their defence improved and made things more difficult for the Mystics. They may have lost the second half 29-16 but at least they competed. It shows, however, great progression by the Eagles that they can be disappointed in this performance against a team of this calibre.
Next week, the Eagles are taking on Tameside Royals White in their penultimate game of the season. They are looking to finish off the season with two wins in order to get the best playoff position possible.
Scorers: Olivia Weymes – 8 points, Izzy Jonas – 7 points, Esra Kandemir – 6 points