The University of Nottingham’s (UoN) Netball Team will be looking to avenge last year’s 40-49 defeat when they meet Nottingham Trent University (NTU) on court at Clifton Campus on Sunday 7th May, in the first event of the second half of the Nottingham Varsity Series 2017.

With the score tightly poised at 5-4 overall as we resume the series, it’s all to play for the ‘Trent Army’ and the ‘Green and Gold’ between the 7th-14th May.

With UoN leading the series by just one point going into Easter, the pressure is on their Netball club, who have not won IN Varsity for three years, to ensure that NTU don’t draw level in the first event since the break. Impact Sport met with Nicole Flynn (Defence) and Daisy Herd (Midcourt), who are confident that they have got what it takes.

Head-to-head

UoN (University of Nottingham)

It’s been a mixed year in the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) leagues for UoN Netball this year. The firsts have mustered four wins and six defeats over the course of their campaign in Midlands 1A, yet finished in a respectable mid-table fourth in the division with 12 points. They made it all the way to the semi-finals of the BUCS Trophy this year, but were defeated by a strong Manchester Metropolitan University team 62-37.

An end-of-season double over Birmingham, recording 64-27 and 68-39 triumphs over their Midlands rivals in their final matches of the 2016/17 BUCS season, mean they come into Varsity in a decent run of form.

Last year’s loss will be playing on the minds of the girls in Green and Gold going into the encounter, and club president Katie Hunt is adamant that the team will edge the contest this year.

UoN Netball after last year’s encounter at Jubilee Campus

NTU (Nottingham Trent University)

The Trent Army’s Netball 1st’s finished the season second in Midlands 1A on 21 points, just three shy of Cambridge 1st’s on 24. They have won their last four matches in the league and go into the match on their home court at Clifton in top form.

However, Trent bowed out of the BUCS Trophy at the last 16 phase with a 44-40 loss to the Green and Gold over at the Lee Westwood Sports Centre back in February. Hopefully UoN Netball can retain the bragging rights and claim another away victory.

Trent have defeated UoN twice in the league this season, however, by very narrow 49-44 and 36-47 margins, so it’s set to be a very close battle between the two teams when the centre pass gets the clash underway at 5pm on Sunday.

Looking at your BUCS form, four wins and six losses… Is there a consistency issue behind that?

Nicole: “It’s been really close games all season. We’ve lost two games by one point and the other games have literally been lost by only two or three points. It’s normally in the last quarter, so I think at the beginning of the season it might have been due to fitness, but for the games where we’ve lost by one point it’s just complete bad luck. They got the goal in and then the whistle went.”

“So it’s not a major problem. I’d say we’re almost there and we don’t need to worry too much about those losses.”

 How do you make sure it’s not a case of just being ‘nearly there’ in Varsity?

Nicole: “We have to maintain a lead throughout the game, instead of gaining and dropping the lead. In the last quarter, we have to remain focused.”

Daisy: “We need to be concentrating throughout the match, from the first to the last whistle.”

“In some matches we’ve been ahead in every single quarter. In other matches, like in Cambridge, we were down by eight goals in the last quarter – but we brought it back in the last five minutes. So I think we have the ability to bring it back if we are losing.”

“The way we play in the last five minutes is the way we need to play for the whole game.”

Nicole: “It’s odd, we enjoy the last five minutes. When other teams might play at their worst, we thrive on the intensity of it.”

Will there be any major losses to the team through people graduating?

Nicole: “We’re losing four. The Captain, the President, and two fourth years.”

Daisy: “It’s going to have a big impact, but it’s been a good season with them. They’ve brought their experience to the table and helped us out. It’s just a shame that we’re losing them.”

With people leaving, has there been any new faces that have come in and impressed? Might we see them in Green and Gold?

Daisy: “The second team and below have really improved. Perhaps they have the chance to come in. There’s also the freshers and other years who haven’t done Netball before. There’s such a wide variety that could come in. At trials, there was three, maybe four hundred people, so there’s such a big pot to choose from.

How is the coach helping you prepare for Varsity?

Nicole: “During training she’ll make sure that we keep up our intensity. When we have practice matches, she’s always giving us feedback; what we can do and ways we can do it better. Even throughout the match she’s giving us positive criticisms.”

Daisy: “We have targets too. For each quarter, we try and reach a certain target. The coach has been really good this year.”

Netball is the first event after we come back from the Easter break, does that present issues in terms of fitness and sharpness?

Nicole: “I don’t think it will hold us back too much. We’re coming back early to train and we’ll all work on our own fitness as well. We have our own programmes.”

Daisy: “The main issue will be that we haven’t seen each other for three weeks, so we’ll have to gel together. But that will come back as soon as we start training.”

Nicole: “We’ve got training every day in the week before Varsity. There won’t been an issue with getting the team working again.”

In terms of tactics, are you focusing on what Trent are going to do; or is it all about yourselves?

Nicole: “Trent definitely have certain players that we need to focus on. They have playmakers that we need to completely cut out of the game. But we need to make sure that we’re not playing their game; we’re playing our game.”

Get down to Clifton for 5pm on Sunday to see if UoN Netball can help increase the green and gold’s lead in the series.

What will you focus on in those last few training sessions?

Daisy: “We will be working on intensity of defence. Normally when we play Trent they find it really hard to get past us. But also, we have to work on converting that, so if we get a turnover, we remain calm and positive to counter-attack.”

“Generally, the focus will be working as a team and not getting angry at each other. As soon as you get angry at each other it doesn’t go well. We need to work on supporting everyone throughout the whole game so that no one’s playing level drops.”

Trent have won the last three Varsity matches, if you do go down early how do you make sure heads don’t drop?

Daisy: “Our captain is really good at keeping everyone together. In between quarters and even during the game she’ll be shouting. It’s good to have that positive influence because obviously, it will be quite a hectic crowd.”

How do you look back on your season so far; fourth seems pretty good, right?

Daisy: “We should really be in the top two. It was a rocky start, we had three freshers in the team and a few injuries, so it just didn’t gel. Once everyone came back we started playing really well.”

Nicole: “Our position in the league isn’t a good reflection of how good we are. We got to the semi-final of the trophy and beat Trent, who were above us.”

Daisy: “We didn’t just beat them, we smashed them!”

Nicole: “We’ve got the momentum, all the hype is behind us; they are going to have to worry more about us than we are them.”

Tom Monks and Joe Tanner

Follow @ImpactVarsity17 on Twitter or like the Impact Sport Facebook page for updates, previews and match reports throughout the Varsity Series.

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