Vikings Fourth in British Handball Super Cup

Newcastle Vikings’ ladies battled hard but were ultimately unable to pick up a win in either of their matches to finish in fourth place in last weekend’s enjoyable British Handball Super Cup in Edinburgh.

The Nordan British Handball Super Cup event, once again held at Scotland’s Oriam Sport Performance Centre, saw the top two men’s and women’s teams from the English Premier League and Scottish National League battling it out to be crowned British Champions, with the top three qualifying to have the opportunity to represent Great Britain in the European Handball Federation’s EHF European Cup competitions next season.

Newcastle, who had finished second in the Scottish women’s league this year, faced a really tough opening semi-final game on Saturday against England’s Premier League champions and reigning Super Cup holders Olympia. The London club’s experience and clinical finishing showed right from the start as they raced into a 9-0 lead, while Newcastle struggled to find any way through their solidly mean defence line. It wasn’t until the 15th minute that the Vikings got themselves on the scoresheet when right-winger Marie Brevet found a gap in the defence to fire past Olympia’s goalkeeper. Left-winger Mathilde Bergestad soon broke through to add a second, and captain Sandra Christke-Lamb scored from the line position just before the break, but the Londoners had opened up a clear 15-3 half-time advantage.

The second half brought a better performance from the Vikings, and two Alexandra Inta penalties initally kept them on a par with Olympia. But despite some more big saves from Newcastle’s player-of-the-match Andrea King to keep the score down, the Londoners further extended their lead. Late strikes through Brevet’s fast break, an open-play goal from Alex Inta and a brace from fellow half-player Oliwia Szymkowiak put the Vikings on the verge of getting into double figures, but by the time the final whistle was blown Olympia had ran out dominant 29-9 winners.

The Vikings were nevertheless pleased with their performance and that the final score difference was not as great as some had perhaps feared going into the game. Coach Adam Bately felt the result was bittersweet and the team had played some really good handball, “Olympia they’re are such a strong side there was only so much we could really do, but our defence was excellent, we conceded only 29 goals which is really respectable against such a good team, and it was great to see how we improved as the game went on“.

Sunday morning’s 3rd/4th-place play-off match saw Newcastle renew their rivalry with perenial Scottish league and cup champions Edinburgh, who had lost out 16-22 to West London Eagles in their semi-final the previous day. And the Vikings started well as goals from centre Alina Inta, a penalty from daughter Alex and a back-court strike from Szymkowiak briefly put them in the lead. But a number of mistakes and a couple of missed penalty opportunities helped the Scots move ahead, despite goalkeeper King once again pulling off several good saves. Szymkowiak and Alina Inta each added their second goals of the game, but Edinburgh went into the half-time break 13-5 up.

After a couple more penalty misses, goals from wingers Brevet and Bergestad’s double kept the Vikings level-pegging with Edinburgh during the opening stages of the second half. Szymkowiak did eventually score from the penalty line, while Alina Inta got the Vikings into double-figures to give a bit more respectability to the scoreline. But Newcastle lost Brevet to a red card for her third two-minute suspension of the match, before also losing playmaker and Vikings player-of-the-match Marlen Slinning Goulty to a painful back injury while Szymkowiak picked up a late knee injury. By the time Alex Inta scored the last goal of the match and Edinburgh also had a player red-carded late on, the Scottish side had secured a 24-11 win to deservedly take the bronze medals.

Captain Sandra Christke-Lamb said the girls were “feeling tired but grateful to have been part of this whole event, and have enjoyed every single minute. The match yesterday it was great to play against the Premier League winners, I think we played really fast at a really good level, though Olympia are better and we expected to lose. And today with Edinburgh, we’ve known them for so long, we’ve got friends and it’s always a bit like our derby so we would have liked a bit of a closer match, but it wasn’t ours today“. She added that “each of us have not played at a high level before, our team is built on team spirit and picking each other up, and just support each other, that’s a major part of it“, while the club now hopes to be able to build the team for next season and try to get more girls playing handball.

Later in the afternoon Olympia went on to defeat capital rivals West London Eagles 25-18 in the British Handball Super Cup’s women’s final to retain their title.

The Vikings thoroughly enjoyed the experience of the weekend, playing on the show court in front of a big crowd of spectators and the TV cameras for the first time in an event that represents the pinnacle of club handball in Britain. All the British Handball Super Cup action can be watched on the Scottish Handball Association’s YouTube channel:

  • Saturday:
  • Sunday:

Newcastle Vikings: Andrea King (GK), Marie Brevet (3 goals), Marlen Slinning Goulty, Mathilde Bergestad (3), Juliana Souza, Maria González Pascual, Josephine Magalhaes, Rózsa Szűcs, Alexandra Inta (5), Oliwia Szymkowiak (5), Alina Inta (3), Sandra Christke-Lamb (1).

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