Woodward backs Gems to sparkle in top flight

Division one winners Gems. Back, left to right: Helen Osmond, Marie Woodward, Maggie Woodward, Liz Graham, Katherine Dawes. Front, left to right: Kia Thomson, Lesley Duff, Sharon McGeorge, Ashton Carruthers
Division one winners Gems. Back, left to right: Helen Osmond, Marie Woodward, Maggie Woodward, Liz Graham, Katherine Dawes. Front, left to right: Kia Thomson, Lesley Duff, Sharon McGeorge, Ashton Carruthers
Vixens finished second in the All About Netball League

Dramatic finish to league season

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MaGGIE Woodward has backed Gems to shine in the Portsmouth League premier division.

The captain steered her side to the division one title last season – beating title rivals Red Devils in a decisive final fixture to leapfrog them and snatch glory.

Gems’ triumph sees them return to top flight competition, where they briefly appeared last winter.

Woodward believes her team are better equipped to make an impact this time around, though.

The skipper said: ‘Red Devils started much better in the final game of the season.

‘They took their chances well and by half-time they were leading by one goal.

‘We upped our game in the third quarter, though, winning turnovers all over the court and converting them into goals.

‘As we led going into the final quarter the whole team really went for it.

‘And we came out eventual winners 45-36, to win division one and gain promotion back to the premier division.

‘We are looking forward to playing in the top division again and hope we can compete better than our last outing.

‘I am confident we can do it this time. We have strengthened our squad and have also learned a lot from the other premier division teams.’

Gems have played in every division since joining the Portsmouth League five years ago.

After relegation last winter, they kicked off the summer season in fine style. Defender Katherine Dawes and centre Kia Thomson arrived to boost the ranks and Gems won their opening three matches.

They came crashing back to earth with a trio of defeats before stepping up their game for the remainder of the season.

Shooters Helen Osmond and Liz Graham both played with confidence and improved accuracy – linking up well with each other to weigh in with a lot more goals.

The attack and centre court players Sharon McGeorge, Ashton Carruthers and Thomson provided great balls into the shooters while defending well, too.

And with Dawes, the skipper and her daughter Marie Woodward solid in defence, oppositions faced an uphill struggle to break them down.

The hard-working Lesley Duff at wing-defence got the Gems on the front foot at every opportunity as they climbed the table to challenge.

And following a last-day triumph over Red Devils, the stage is set for Gems to make their mark in the premier division this winter.