Before the match started most Gibraltar netball experts had expressed the belief that beating Switzerland would be a tough if not impossible thing to do. The favorites to win the Netball Europe Challenge Cup (U17) had already beaten Ireland that same morning, having led throughout most of the match.
Little did anyone expect that Gibraltar was ready to surprise, at least for three quarters of the match.
Having led for the first three quarters, tired legs after a great performance against Malta this morning and three very physically draining quarters didn’t leave the young ladies with much for the final quarter. Switzerland overturned a five point deficit to win by seven clear points.
Probably Gibraltar’s most important match of the competition as they faced Switzerland the match became even more significant with the presence of the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.
It highlighted the importance Gibraltar gave at hosting such a tournament on home soil.
A half filled hall, slowly filling up as the seconds ticked started to roar as the young ladies took to the court with their “Gibraltar” roar.
Gibraltar started as they had hoped the first attempt taking them to a first point. A turnover, however, not completed. But they were to take the ball with an intercept and calm shooting took them to 2-0.
The Swiss, favorites to win, were the more nervous with unforced errors in the passing in those early minutes. Once they settled down they were to equalise at 2-2.
Gibraltar through young Garro took it to 3-2.
With half of the first quarter gone Gibraltar were still in the lead at 6-3 and battling hard both in defence and attack.
The Swiss side were being shown that Gibraltar was more than ready to take them on.
A disciplined hard working display playing as a team across the width of the court saw Gibraltar moving the ball well keeping their composure.
With five minutes of the quarter left the score was level at 6-6 and Gibraltar were working hard. An intercept in defence took them forward again to produce the 7-6. Gibraltar with a spring in their play continued in the lead but the Swiss came back to equalize to show that they were by far out of the game.
Gibraltar was to surprise as they finished the first quarter ahead by 10-8.
The Chief Minister had only the fifteen minutes to spare in his tight schedule. However,
he had watched an exciting quarter in which the U17 national team underlined their determination to stamp their mark on the tournament.
Gibraltar’s defence who had impressed in the first match, as well as in the first quarter, showed they were up to the challenge blocking Switzerland’s early attacks.
Their success saw Gibraltar get the first points of the quarter four minutes in to take the lead toke at 11-8.
Gibraltar were literally breathing down the Swiss attackers neck who were unable to score until five minutes in.
At 12-9 Gibraltar were the surprise leaders in the match.
Shoulder to shoulder Gibraltar’s Goalkeeper kept her mark on the shooter. With Gibraltar’s own shooters well focused, and the attackers moving well they extended their lead to 15-11 halfway through the quarter.
With four minutes to halftime they were at 17-13 and picking their passes upfront.
The Swiss were the ones chasing the game against everyone’s expectations Gibraltar entering the half time break at 20-15 ahead.
There was disbelieve by many who had expected Gibraltar to be behind at this point. Instead the young Campions had offered an exciting display which many now believed might take them through.
Switzerland came out all guns blazing and reduced to 20-16 immediately.
Calm play from Hernandez choosing her pass saw return the point.
The third quarter saw some tumbles as the intensity increased as did the physicality.
This was now a game of nerves with some intense play, every ball fought for, close contact in jumps for balls with Gibraltar, attackers and shooters on form Gibraltar keeping the two point lead alive. the
The Swiss however come to one point with Gibraltar ending the quarter on the back foot in the last minute as Garro once again placed them that one point ahead at 26-25.
It was up to the coaching team of Joelle Moreno and Claire Nunez who had only a week before faced similar drama with the national squad to deliver the pep talk to keep the team focused on the task ahead. A drop of four points in advantage against the tournament favorites was always likely to inflict a drop in morale. A tired looking centers who had battle for every ball was also going to take its toll on Gibraltar prospects.
Gibraltar had surprised but as they were to find out the minimum mistake could leave the doors open , two mistakes in attack let Switzerland back into the game to take the
lead at 28-29 for the first time.
It was Gibraltar now chasing as Switzerland gained in confidence.
Switzerland went ahead 28-30 as they pushed harder against a tired side facing pressure of being behind for the first time in front of their home crowd.
As Switzerland went three points ahead.
Losing the focus that had taken them into the surprise lead saw Gibraltar drop further points. Even a stoppage for an injury to a Swiss player did not see them regain the momentum.
Gibraltar were to lose in that final quarter finishing at the wrong end of a 31-38.
Their display had, however, stamped their determination and development into the tournaments as a live stream audience had watched an exciting and dramatic match which could decide the tournament group positions.
The host team had also shown positives which they now knew they could take to their next matches and try and get a result from. Gibraltar had also shown that even the favorites had to up their performance to overcome their fighting spirit in front of their own home crowd. Switzerland providing proof of why they are the favorites with their final quarter display.
Read print edition or e-edition for full report of Gibraltar’s win against Malta in the first match today, Friday.