NETBALL: Abbey Meads close in on title
The champions elect triumphed 56-39 and did most of the damage in the first period after a flying start.
Abbey Meads dominated possession from the off as Suzie Lidbury and Helen McGrath’s superb zoning work led to numerous interceptions, building a platform for the league leaders to boss possession.
Lorraine Bullpitt duly pulled the creative strings with accurate feeds into the shooting circle as Abbey Meads raced into a 19-7 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Nationwide responded by making several changes going into the second, bringing on tall shooter Kate Hewins and moving Sue Kissane to goal attack, Katherine Sell to wing attack, Fran Connolly to centre and Leanne Rogers to wing defence.
The complete reshuffle had an immediate impact as six-footer Hewins gave the Abbey Meads rearguard some problems.
Debbie Allen also got to grips with the Abbey Meads front two, as Nationwide reduced the arrears to 30-20 at the mid-point of the contest.
Abbey Meads fought fire with fire by throwing on their own towering goal shooter Chrissie Lewis and her presence saw goal attack teammate Julie Hewitt come into her own, dominating the circle play and converting the majority of their goals in a quarter they shaded by a single goal.
Nationwide were unable to produce a miraculous comeback in the final session, as the championship favourites extended their advantage to seal a comfortable 17-point victory.
Hewins’ second-period impact saw her named player of the match for Nationwide, with high-scoring Hewitt taking the honours for Abbey Meads.
Elsewhere in the top flight, Park A are clinging on to the leaders’ tails after grinding out a 36-34 win over Pinehurst A.
Lawn A pulled off a surprise result, toppling high-flying Delta Reds 32-23.
Moredon B are well on course to lift the Diviaion Two crown after a 56-34 triumph over Raychem B.
Abbey Meads B remain the closest challengers after restricting Park B to single digits in a 29-7 win.
The race for the Division Three title has been thrown wide open after leaders Raychem C were toppled 31-24 by Fairford B, who remain in contention.
Croft B capitalised on Raychem’s slip, beating Raychem D 26-14.
At the foot of the table, rock-bottom Thames A chalked up a rare win, 22-19 over Ferndale A.
Nationwide C look untouchable in Division Four, extending their perfect record with a 49-26 thumping of Coleview.
Burmah D lead the way in Division Five but were pushed all the way by Abbey Meads F before winning 24-20.