Yesterday, the 2019 Wellington League came to an end with the Finals day.
In the women competition, the Hutt Valley Hunters were a clear frontrunner dominating most if not all pool games and they faced off with the NZ Under 17 team which steadily improved throughout the year.
The game itself was a battle with the Hutt Hunters leading all of the game but the under 17s did not concede and fought until the last second.
While the Hunters were already up by 7 goals midway through the second half, the young ones came back and almost pushed the Hunters off the throne. But the superior experience prevailed and the Hunters won 28:26 (HT 14:13).
The Bronze final in the women competition was played between the Vikings and the Victoria University team. As both teams faced off each other 3 weeks ago, the Vikings won their first game of the season, and as they won all games since then, there was some hope we can finish the season strong with a win and the 3rd place.
The women from the Victoria University team had obviously different plans and showed from the first minute of the game their determination to win this final.
Throughout the game, the Vikings women had a few too many concentration lapses in defence and our shooting was subpar on the day, so while we battled all game and generated plenty of scoring opportunities, unfortunately, our lack of efficiency allowed the Vic women to stay on top and take away a 17:25 (HT: 9:13) win to win the Bronze medal in the 2019 Wellington League.
In the men competition, we start with the Bronze final between the Fruitflies and the Spartanz. The Fruitflies, technically a Vikings off-cut, showed throughout the season that they are a force to reckon with. And the Spartanz, one of the founding members of the Wellington Handball League has made great progress recruiting very talented new players who have shown tremendous improvements over the last 6 weeks.
The game itself was very quickly in control by the Fruitflies who came out guns blazing and never looked back. While the Spartanz had phases they looked like they might claw their way back into the game, the Fruitflies managed to keep them in check and won comfortably 39:31 (HT: 20:16).
Now let’s go to the men’s grand final. For the third year in the row, the Vikings and the Northern Aguilas faced off each other and after losing in 2017 and 2018, it was time for the Vikings to show up and break that streak.
While the Aguilas won all three pool games during the 2019 season, the last pool game was only decided by a last-second goal to win it for them. So the Vikings had plenty of belief and confidence that they will come out on top.
The game itself was probably one of the best games of this year’s league and worthy of a final including a great audience turnout of probably around 100-150 people watching.
The Viking started strong and built a 4:1 lead even with leaving out massive scoring opportunities. Especially, the goalie god himself Yoshi, seemed to be on a mission to put his stamp on that game as he dominated the Vikings shooters in that first half of the game. As the rule says, if you don’t use your chances, they will come and haunt you and that is exactly what happened, the Aguilas fought their way back and were up 4:6 half-way through the first half. Now both teams showed tremendous grit and battled ball for ball, possession for possession and both goalkeepers – Yoshi (Aguilas) and James (Vikings) – ran hot. At halftime, the scoreboard showed a narrow Aguilas lead (13:14).
In the second half, The Aguilas were initially able to hold on to the lead (13:15, 14:16, 15:17) and you could see that both teams defences were dominating the game. Goals were hard to come by but in the last ten minutes the Vikings team took over (18:18, 20:19, 22:20) and with 5 minutes to play they were closing in on the win.
Though, as Handball is, it always comes different and here they came, the Aguilas worked their way back into the game and equalised with three minutes to go (22:22), and even took the lead with two minutes to go (22:23). As you can imagine, the crowd was in the game and everyone was sitting on the edge of their seats.
Next attack, the Vikings were able to capitalise a defence mistake and equalised, they also forced a turnover in the following Aguilas attack and with 48 seconds to go had the ball in hand to close out the game.
15 seconds to play, another tremendous save from Yoshi led to an Aguilas fastbreak, a lucky deflection turned the ball over again and a counter fastbreak through Miguel landed in Paul’s hand and he kept a cool head and netted for the win, 0.9 seconds later, the horn signalled the end of the game.
The final score 24:23 for the Vikings.
What a game – great for the audience, and a relentless and fair but hard battle of both teams.
Spartanz HC – BYE
Hutt Valley Hunters vs NZ U17 28:26 (14:13)
HVH: Andrea M; Bella A (11), La W (7), Ailish A (6), Acacia S (2), Taylor G (1), Bridget K (1), Tahndae W, Leonie P, Meghan W
NZ U17: Valini V, Faith H; Eleminiotti P (11), Clare T (5), Paris T-F (4), Brenna A (3), Anneko W (1), Metiria D (1), Waimarie W (1), Tawhirikura D, Mercy-Lea T-L, Kiara-Leigh D-K, Tesara-Rose F
Vikings HC vs Victoria University HC 17:25 (9:13)
VIK: Michaela J, Kristina H; Maddy H (7), Inga Z (4), Ida P (3), Maya M (1), Georgia M (1), Ella A (1), Ruby O, Izzah S, Merle A, Elizabeth T, Rosa C
VUW: Abbey L; Sam (5), Meli P (4), Sophia T (4), Haruna (4), Valerie C (3), Frances B (2), Chrissy M (1), Kathleen G (1)
Victoria University HC A and Victoria University HC B – BYEs
Vikings HC vs Northern Aguilas HC 24:23 (13:14)
VIK: Petr H; James W, Laurin S; Daniel T (6), Paul I (5), Alex B (5), Miguel A (3), Harry I (2). Liam M (1), Nico P (1), Riley G (1), Patrick D, Jay M, Sam C
AGU: Yoshi W; Tim R (6), James P (6), Zac J (4), Cameron R (4), Jono R (2), Tim B (1), James C (1), Lucas O-G (1), OScar B-I, Tyler W, William S, Pavlo P, Alex J
Fruitflies HC vs Spartanz HC 39:31 (20:16)
FF: Stefanos H (1), David I; Luke I (13), Jack G (10), Tim R (8), Edmund C(3), Josh B (3), Lachlan H (1), Adam B
SPA: Rhys M; Nick P (11), Antoine D (7), Aidan C (6), Willy M (3), Te Hoera S (3), Scott B (1), Tom R, Esrah, Hayden O, Frank G