Saturday’s home fixture saw Newcastle Eagles Academy 16’s complete their back to back fixtures with the Magic having previously faced Trafford in a somewhat low-scoring affair this was anything but for both sides. The opening quarter proved to be the decisive one as it was clear that the young Eagles, missing Lewis and Cox today, struggled to handle Manchester’s early press as they fell behind 33-10 in the first quarter. Manchester were helped on their way by a solo 8-0 run from stand-out Bradburn-Lewis.
The second quarter saw the Eagles adjust and pick up their scoring as they began to work out the vaunted Magic press. Great patience from the Eagles guards led by Sloan began to break down Manchester’s defence and once the game translated to the half court it was clear that both teams were more evenly matched than the 1st quarter showed. Sheeran showed clearly that he could provide plenty of offensive punch as he scored 8 of the team’s 21 points in the second quarter. Manchester however did still pull away in the quarter with the final score in the quarter 30-21 in favour of the visitors. This left the score at the half 60 – 31 in Manchester’s favour.
Following the break, Newcastle came out with a clear confidence and continued to work well against the strong Manchester defence. With some slick passing by Hansom and Hunt helping to continue to break the press Newcastle began to redress the balance with scoring load being shared around Leperrier was first amongst equals in the quarter with 8 of the Eagles 22 points. The Eagles also tightened up on the defensive end thanks to some improved defence from Jones and Clark at the top of the Eagles zone defence; leading to a tied quarter 22-22.
The fourth quarter saw the Eagles continue their great efforts from the third as they worked to again tighten up on the defensive end; however a lack of defensive rebounding, which has plagued the side all season, led to all 18 of Manchester’s points in the quarter. The Eagles continued their solid work on the offensive side of the ball as they equalled Manchester with 18 points of their own coming from some terrific ball movement on the offensive side. Finally, a nice moment for team captain Jerrard in the fourth quarter as he provided 4 quality minutes showcasing great communication and leadership on his return from what was initially feared to be a long-term injury.
Eagles Academy Coach David Sayers said “We struggled in the first quarter today and honestly looked a little shell-shocked early on but as the game continued, we proved that we can compete with any team in the country when we hit our stride. More to come as we often say but big improvements mentally today from certain players and we had a lot of resilience as a team which is a great quality to see.”
Top scorers for the Eagles were Sheeran with 16 he was supported by Jones’s 11; while Leperrier and Sloan both added 10. The Magic were led by Bradburn-Lewis’s 21, Iwediebo and Adonry followed with 15 and 13 points respectively
The Eagles Academy 16’s next match-up sees the youngsters visit Leeds on December 1st looking to get back to winning ways.