A decisive first-half offensive from the University of Leeds’ women left Newcastle Vikings with too much much to do as the Tynesiders slumped to a 24-13 away defeat in Bradford on Saturday.
The student team took an early two-goal lead before winger Blessing Ogbee fired Newcastle onto the scoresheet. Right-half Alina Inta soon added a second, but the Gryphons continued to open the below-par Vikings’ unusually leaky defence line to find the back of the net at the other end, and by the time captain Sandra Christke-Lamb grabbed a third from the line position the home side were well on their way to building a formidable 10-goal half-time advantage. The clearly shocked and frustrated Vikings players went into the break 13-3 down, desperately wondering how they could find their way back into the game.
A lifeline came when a two-minute suspension for one of the Leeds players early in the second half however gave Newcastle the opportunity they needed to score some morale-boosting goals and help incentivise a much-improved second-half performance. Backed up by a string of fine saves from goalkeeper and the Vikings’ Kafeneon player of the match Andrea King, strikes from Ogbee, Christke-Lamb and back-court players Inta, Rosa Larcy and Judyta Turulska soon narrowed the gap to seven.
However, an unlikely comeback was soon stopped in its tracks as three Newcastle players received two-minute suspensions of their own in quick succession, allowing the Gryphons to re-establish their advantage. Penalty strikes from Larcy helped her to four goals in the game, while Inta and Ogbee also notched up their hat-tricks, but despite a much more evenly matched second-half contest the damage had been done in a poor first half.
The 24-13 defeat leaves the Vikings in third place in the England Handball Regional League North table, behind Liverpool and the University of Leeds.
The women’s league match was followed by a friendly game between the Leeds and Newcastle men’s teams, with the university side just edging it 28-25.
Newcastle Vikings women: Andrea King (GK), Marie Thompson, Marlen Goulty, Judyta Turulska (1 goal), Katerina Gibson, Rosa Larcy (4), Blessing Ogbee (3), Alina Inta (3), Sandra Christke-Lamb (2), Maria Jose Gonzalez.