A much-improved second-half performance saw Newcastle Vikings’ ladies fight back to beat Manchester’s NEM Hawks 33-20 in their England Handball North Regional Development League match at South Shields’ Temple Park Leisure Centre on Saturday.
Returning to competitive action for their first game for over two months after a mid-season fixture hiatus, Newcastle struggled to find their way in the first half against an NEM Hawks team who turned up for the match with just six players. But lead by Great Britain international winger Lucy-Anne Ready, the Hawks took an early two-goal lead before half player Alina Inta got the Vikings going, as the away side dominated much of the first half with some powerful accurate shooting.
Young winger Krystina Coulson scored her first Vikings goals since coming up from the junior side, while Blessing Ogbee added a brace from the line position either side of a further three Inta back-court strikes. However, Newcastle were poor defensively and struggled to contain the dynamic movement of the Hawks’ attacking plays, and were indebted to some good saves from on-form goalkeeper Andrea King to keep them in the game. Half Judyta Turulska and line-player Sandra Christke then scored twice each, before another Inta double and one from winger Meghan Acres helped the Vikings pull back and take a fortunate 14-13 lead into the half-time break, King pulling off a fantastic right-footed save in the dying seconds to deny the Hawks a leveller.
Cheered on vociferously from the bench the Vikings suddenly found their fight and some greater defensive tightness in the second half, as another Turulska brace and breakaway strikes from Ogbee, Christke and a rampant Inta helped the home side open out a six-goal advantage, supported by more athletic goalkeeping from King. The Hawks switched their keepers around but could not prevent Coulson claiming her third and an Inta penalty shot, before debutant Lea Muething got on the scoresheet from the wing as captain Christke switched herself to centre.
Inta notched up her eleventh goal in a brilliant match-winning haul. Acres stretched the lead to ten, before Turulska’s double, Muething and Christke rounded things off for a 33-20 victory. The win meant a relieved Vikings team claimed the double over NEM Hawks this season.
Newcastle Vikings: Andrea King (GK), Meghan Acres (2 goals), Judyta Turulska (7), Krystina Coulson (3), Lea Muething (2), Blessing Ogbee (3), Paulina Szulc, Alina Inta (11), Sandra Christke (5)