Hartlepool Oaksway can escape drop from netball’s Premier League

CONFIDENT: Vicky Burgess
CONFIDENT: Vicky Burgess

OAKSWAY suffered their seventh defeat of the Premier League season when they went down 58-47 at the Downs in London.

But the Hartlepool netball side showed enough promise in the match at Twickenham to strengthen their confidence that they will pull away from the danger zone.

Barbara Brown’s team are too close to the bottom three for comfort – only a better goal average keeps them above New Cambell.

But Vicky Burgess believes the side will pick up enough points in 2014 to maintain their proud run in the division.

Oaksway had their moments at the Downs, who have won all 10 of their Premier League matches having won promotion last season with a 100 per cent record.

“Downs are top of the league so it was always going to be a tough game,” said Burgess who took charge of the side in the capital on Sunday in the absence of Brown. “We played well in spells but we let ourselves down with too many unforced errors.

“I think Sunday was more a case of us losing the match rather than the Downs winning it.

“It was close all the way through but every time we were almost on top we’d make mistakes and let them get the initiative.”

Oaksway, fresh from a morale-boosting away draw with Academy last time out, were just three goals adrift at the first quarter at St Mary’s.

The Poolies, with Natasha Hamphire outstanding, came back strongly and were level by half-time.

But they could not keep up their form and trailed by five at the end of the third quarter and were unable to close the gap, with the Downs winning by 11 thanks to a powerful finish.

“Some of our play was fantastic,” added Burgess. “But we were too inconsistent.

“We’d pull ourselves back into contention and then we’d take our foot off the accelerator and it’s hard to play catch up against such a good and experienced team.

“There were positives and we’ll look forward to the second half of the season with confidence.”

Oaksway will kick off their 2014 fixtures on Sunday, January 12, when they host Viper 10 Blades, the side two places and just three points below them in the table.

“We have some crucial games coming up,” Burgess told SportMail. “We must capitalise on them.”

Oaksway: Leah Kennedy, Sarah Penney, Rebecca Neill, Vicky Percy, Natasha Hampshire, Deborah Percy, Toetsie Kabatuku. Subs: Natalie Connor, Kayleigh Moss, Vicky Burgess