Hallam snatch Varsity korfball glory

UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD FIRSTS 6 SHEFFIELD HALLAM FIRSTS 8

UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD SECONDS 4 SHEFFIELD HALLAM SECONDS 4

Hallam took the spoils in Sunday evening’s Varsity Korfball following two thrill-a-minute encounters. They fended off a spirited Sheffield challenge in the first team match to win 8-6, having earlier salvaged a last-gasp draw in the second team game.

The point keeps Hallam in touch in the overall standings and offered some comfort after Sheffield dominated the badminton events in the adjacent hall at the English Institute of Sport to extend their advantage to 15-12 entering the final three days of competition.

The first team match exploded after half-time, with no less than 12 points scored in the second-half as the momentum swung backwards and forwards between two committed and talented teams.

The omens for an engrossing contest were there from the first whistle, as both teams went close to scoring inside the first minute, before Sheffield’s Tim McLoughlin opened the black and gold account with an unerring penalty throw.

McLoughlin, linking seamlessly with Dan Brooks and Helen Muir, chanced his arm from all segments of the court and was often unlucky to see his efforts ricochet off the basket. At the other end, Hallam were also restricted to long-range shots, as the defensive quartet of Jane Sherring, Craig Allison, Kerry Brookes and Tom Rockingham kept them at bay.

They broke through on just one occasion and converted to ensure parity at half-time. The cagey nature of the opening 30 minutes gave way to a crazy spell immediately after the changearound. Two minutes in, Hallam hit the front for the first time, only for Rockingham’s cool penalty to level within a minute.

Any notion of defence was by this time disregarded and McLoughlin again hauled Sheffield level at 3-3 with a characteristically assured finish from range. Hallam had plenty of ability and established what would prove to be a crucial three-point lead at 6-3, courtesy of some clinical shot selection.

Despite the best attacking efforts of McLoughlin, who ended up with four baskets in the game, and Rockingham, with two, Sheffield never regained parity and each Hallam score sparked jubilant scenes of relief among their vocal supporters.

One close-range McLaughlin finish narrowed the gap to 7-6 but one last Hallam point and a ticking clock condemned Sheffield to defeat.

Though featuring fewer baskets, the second team game was equally captivating as Sheffield, who led 3-1 and 4-2, conspired to allow Hallam a draw.

Sheffield took the lead after three minutes as Lizzy Melville, having seen a couple of earlier shots bounce out, made no mistake from the right hand side. It was just reward for an enterprising start for Sheffield, who had been working good positions through some snappy passing and had peppered the basket.

Hallam had barely seen the ball, but eventually equalised on 18 minutes, though the over-zealous celebration only handed Sheffield another reason to redouble their efforts. The response came from the outstanding Alex Forrest, who traded passes with Abi Ward and finished adroitly to hand Sheffield the half-time lead.

Captain Alex Crampton looked the most likely to score at the start of the second-half but it would be Claire Hampson who made it 3-1 with an excellent basket from 15 yards out.

Sheffield looked on course for victory but a moment of fortune allowed Hallam a route back into the game. The odds on this particular speculative shot from the right touchline going in were slim, but that’s exactly what happened and it was game on again.

Oliver Jarvis missed a penalty throw as Sheffield battled on, but Abi Wallace made no mistake when a second opportunity arrived to make it 4-2.

However, Sheffield switched off in the final ten minutes and were caught out twice, the equaliser coming with barely a minute remaining on the clock as Hallam’s never-say-die attitude paid off.

UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD TEAMS

First Team: 2. Kate Davis (c), 9. Helen Muir, 8. Kerry Brookes, 4. Jane Sherring, 1. Craig Allison, 6. Dan Brooks, 00. Tim McLoughlin, 15. Tom Rockingham

Second Team: 13. Alex Crampton (c), 7. Oliver Jarvis (vc), 18. Alex Forrest, 12. Shun Sekine, 2. Jerome Francis, 3. Lizzy Melville, 21. Claire Hampson, 23. Laura Flight, 24. Maria Diggle, 11. Abi Ward, 5. Abi Wallace

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