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Sunday, May 29, 2011

England's Finest Prepare for Finals

THE best handball teams from across England come to Crystal Palace National Sports Centre on Saturday for a day of four EHA Cup finals.

Warrington Wolves take on the North East Manchester Hawks in the EHA Girls Cup final at 12noon, and that is followed by the Boys final at 1pm, featuring North East Manchester Hawks and Olympia Cannock.

Unbeaten all season in the league, Ruislip Eagles take on Olympia in the EHA Women’s Cup final at 2pm, followed by the Men’s final at 4pm which sees league champions Great Dane and runners-up Ruislip Eagles.

With the league title already in the bag, there has been little time for Great Dane to celebrate as they prepare for the EHA Cup final.

“We can’t rest yet,” said Great Dane captain Jordi Ferrer-Torras. “We’ll be ready and fighting for the final of the cup.”

Likewise, the captain of league runners-up and cup holders Ruislip, Marc Fayemi, was raring to go for the final despite conceding the league title.

“We’ve beaten Great Dane twice this season already and we’ll have to show them our quality in the cup final. We’ll be ready for them.”

It looks set to be a busy day for GB Team Manager Mel Chowns, who is also head coach for Ruislip Eagles Women and will be eager to see her domestic team complete the league and cup double, while also ensuring that Great Britain go through to the next stage of Euro 2012 for victory over Finland.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fourth Consecutive Title for Great Dane

GREAT Dane secured a big 39-20 win over rivals Salford on the final day of the league season at Leyton SCORE Centre in London, overturning Ruislip’s goal difference and securing a fourth consecutive league title by just two goals. Richard Browne Reports.

Ruislip’s crushing 46-16 win over Nottingham earlier in the day had left Great Dane as outsiders for the title, especially as Salford had pushed Great Dane hard twice in the past two weeks.

But Great Dane came out of the blocks on fire and their evident early aggression saw them open the scoring in the first minute and build on their advantage to lead 8-1 after just seven minutes.

Salford battled well and almost pulled level, but the Danes rallied to lead 17-10 at the break.

Within a minute of the second half starting Great Dane extended their lead to 19-10 as Salford struggled to cope with their rivals’ attacks.

But the heat of the game led to Salford being down to five players with Popovic and Williams in the sin-bin, and Great Dane seized their chance to take a 27-17 lead.

A time out saw them doing the maths, and they needed six more goals in 11 minutes to overtake Ruislip and win the league. And with Salford down to six men again, the advantage rested with the Londoners.

A Salford timeout had little effect, and Great Dane were rampant, leading 35-18. A series of acrobatic saves from Sebbata helped keep Dane in the hunt and their 19-goal victory was soon in the bag.

“This has been the hardest season so far,” said Great Dane captain Jordi Ferrer-Torras afterwards. “The quality of play is improving every year and the teams are getting better and better.

“The spirit of the players and the fans here has just been fantastic. For the facilities we have here the atmosphere has been fantastic.”

And Salford coach Bill Baillie added: “I’ve been watching Great Dane play for over 20 years, and that’s the best I’ve seen them play. They were very strong, and the back court players very rarely shot off target. And none of our lads really turned up in defence.

“We’re very disappointed because we wanted to put in a good performance, but the lads will learn from these games and gain experience and will be back.”

EHA Cup: Battle Lines Drawn

WITH the league title in the bag, there will be little time for Great Dane to celebrate as they prepare for the EHA Cup final against rivals Ruislip this Saturday at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

“We can’t rest yet,” said Great Dane captain Jordi Ferrer-Torras. “We’ll be ready and fighting for the final of the cup.”

Likewise, the captain of league runners-up and cup holders Ruislip, Marc Fayemi, was raring to go for the final despite conceding the league title.

“We’ve beaten Great Dane twice this season already and we’ll have to show them our quality in the cup final. We’ll be ready for them.”

Ruislip Women Wrap up League

RUISLIP Eagles women finished off the league season in fine style with a convincing 42-15 victory over Deva on Saturday.

Just two weeks earlier, the young Deva squad had scored 30 goals against the champions in their cup defeat, but it was a very determined and strengthened Ruislip squad that faced the northern side last weekend.

The Eagles were keen to use the match to prepare well for this Saturday’s cup final, after the challenging cup semi-final against Great Dane. And they got off to a flier, racing to a significant lead after 15 minutes in a reverse of what had happened in the earlier match between the two sides.

Deva attempted to break up Ruislip’s flow and neutralise the threat of Telek and Sposi by marking them out but the tactic only left too much room for wingers Bjarnadóttir and Volgyi and line player Chebanova to come into the back court and fire in impressively from nine metres.

Deva coach Donna Hankinson changed tactics and contained Ruislip for a short while, but the champions had too much experience and power and piled on the pressure in the second half with more fast breaks and some good set plays.

Ruislip now look to win back the English Cup and remain the only club in England to go unbeaten all season. Ruislip’s top scorers were: Bjarnadóttir and Sposi with 10 each and Telek with 8.

Title Hopes Dashed for Ruislip

A PASSIONATE Ruislip Eagles performance got the final day of the season off to a flier when they hammered Nottingham University 46-16 - but it was to end in disappointment with rivals Great Dane pipping them to the Men’s title.

Ruislip went into their final game of the season 13 goals behind leaders Great Dane. And knowing that goal difference could be key in the title run in, Ruislip came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders and raced into a four-goal lead within four minutes.

But Nottingham played hard and refused to roll over and scored some good goals, but Ruislip were still ahead 21-11 at half time.

However, their lack of substitutes began to tell after the break and Nottingham’s hopes drifted away.

Ruislip continued to dominate and with every goal that went in increasing their chances of snatching the title, they were met with increasingly rapturous cheers. When the final whistle blew with the score at 46-16 a number of the team collapsed joyously on the floor.

However with all still riding on the final game between Great Dane and Salford the initial wild celebrations were slowly reined in to await the outcome of that game.

Olympia Claim Europe Spot

OLYMPIA overcame a combatant Manchester side without too much discomfort in the day’s second game, winning 28-21 to send them above Salford in the quest for the third European spot.

Knowing that a win would pile the pressure on Salford in the final game, Olympia started strongly and took an early lead and were looking solid at 4-1 up after 10 minutes. However, with Zsolt Deak in Manchester’s goal pulling off a sting of fine saves Olympia’s domination wasn’t reflected in the score line as Manchester pulled it back to 7-5.

Manchester’s aggressive defending style saw them concede three first half penalties but their robustness and tenacity ensured they remained within touching distance of Olympia, heading for the break only 13-10 down. However, a noisy crowd helped cheer Olympia on and they opened up a 21-14 lead.

Despite a lack of replacements, Manchester battled on and with the gap only five goals with ten minutes left, Olympia clung on nervously to their lead and when the whistle blew there were muted celebrations as they waited for the Salford result to confirm their spot in Europe.

Baby Hawks Fly into Final

JUST 12 months after their formation, North East Manchester Hawks are preparing to field both their Under-18 boys and girls teams in the National Youth Finals at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre next weekend.
The Under-18 girls will face Warrington Wolves in the final after beating an experienced Deva side 16-9 in their semi, despite the fact that five of their players had not even heard of handball six months ago.

Formed last summer by Donna Hankinson, Sue Whitehead and Nicola Reddin, the Hawks came about when a series of trials for a one-off team for the regional championships were held.

Hankinson explained: “We trained every Wednesday for a couple of months and soon realised that we had a dedicated and talented bunch of athletes who’d really fallen in love with our sport.

“We soon realised that if we didn’t give them a platform on which to continue they would be lost forever – hence the reason why the Hawks were founded.”

Since then their progress has been rapid, and they have around 70 per cent of their players with England Youth caps, while one - James Higgins - was selected for the GB Under-21s.

With regular help from GB captain Ciaran Williams, the club and the players have gone from strength to strength, and Hankinson added: “The finals are just reward for all of the hard work the players have put in over the last few months.

“No matter what the result on 4th June to have achieved so much in such a short time was nothing short of a miracle - we are the newest club with the least experienced players yet all we have done match after match and session after session is improve.”

If anyone is interested in joining the club contact Donna Hankinson via email at donna@turner-bianca.co.uk

Tryst Edge to Scottish Cup Victory

TRYST secured the Scottish Cup in style on Saturday, beating rivals Gracemount 33-29 after a thrilling day of handball.

The league leaders are on track to do the double after beating Gracemount in the Cup final, but they were made to battle all the way for victory.

The match was close throughout, but towards the end both sides found themselves a man down and it was Tryst who adapted better to clinch the win.

In the women’s final Glasgow overwhelmed Gracemount 32-13 to secure victory over an Edinburgh side which was missing a couple of key players.

Earlier in the day East Kilbride beat Ayr 16-13 in the Under-16 boys final, with their experience proving key, while Livingston battled back from a four-goal deficit at half time in the Under-16 girls final to beat East Kilbride 18-13.

A stronger squad proved the difference for East Kilbride, who beat an under-strength Livingston team 32-19 in the Under-14 final, while East Kilbride came out on top after a well-fought five-team mini tournament for the Under-12s, narrowly beating Gracemount in the final.

Oxford Secure Promotion

OXFORD University secured promotion to Division One of the English National League for next season after topping the Development League South play-offs at Cranfield University on Saturday.

But Oxford didn’t have it all their own way, and were given two close games by hosts Cranfield and University College London.

Seven goals each from Jens Krause and Halfdan Lynde Ottosen helped Oxford beat Cranfield 25-23, while Julien Faure also scored seven for Cranfield.

And in their second match they won 31-27 against UCL, with Krause scoring eight goals. Mohamed El Hawary scored ten for UCL, but it was not enough and Oxford secured their spot in the top league.

In the day’s other games, UCL beat Imperial Eagles 29-24, with El Hawary in great form, scoring 13 goals, while Hugo Mazel of Imperial scored seven.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Women's Cup: It's Eagles v Olympia!

THE top two teams in the English Women’s League, Ruislip and Olympia will meet each other in the final of the EHA Cup final on June 4.

Ruislip Eagles won through to the final with a hard-fought 18-11 victory over Great Dane, with Dreksler scoring six goals.

Olympia made it to the final with a narrow 31-27 win over Deva, with their top-scorer being Bourkab with an impressive ten goals, while Torgnes bagged nine.

Basta and Popa both scored ten goals for Deva, but it was not enough to secure victory.

Season Heading for Thrilling Finale

Yet again the top level of English Handball looks set to produce a thrilling climax to the season - starting with this Sunday. Richard Browne reports.

The final round of the English Men’s National League play-offs take place at Leyton SCORE Centre in London from 12-6, and while four teams are battling for the three European places some clubs will be hoping for an upturn in their fortunes after last week’s Cup semi finals.

Despite five goals from GB men’s captain Ciaran Williams, Salford were unable to overcome league leaders Great Dane, who triumphed 22-20 in a thrilling game.

Current cup holders Ruislip Eagles won away at Manchester 25-19 in the other semi to set up an all London final. That match will see one of the sides battling to do the double, with Ruislip and Great Dane also battling against each other fiercely at the top of the league.

The two sides go into the final league games of the season neck and neck. Although Great Dane currently hold a goal difference advantage of 13, Ruislip can anticipate a big points tally in the day’s midday start against Nottingham University, who they thrashed 42-17 in April.

With Salford looking to avenge their cup defeat, the result of their fixture against Great Dane in the day’s 4pm kick off will probably decide not only the title but also the European placings.

With only the top three going into the European Cup, a win for Olympia in their 2pm game with Manchester would pile the pressure onto Salford to prevent it being an all-London top three.

With the European places, the title, and local pride all at stake, this coming Sunday at Leyton promises to be an event not to be missed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Play-offs Turn into Two-Horse Race

THE race for the English Men’s League title is a two-horse race heading into the final set of matches, after Ruislip Eagles beat former table-toppers Salford at Greenbank Sports Academy in Liverpool on Sunday.

Ruislip won 31-24 over Salford to ensure they are level on points with leaders Great Dane.

And they will have high hopes of snatching the title on the final day of the season, with their final match being against bottom of the league Nottingham University, while Great Dane must play Salford.

The Eagles kept their hopes of the title alive with a hard-fought match against Salford.

Ahead 7-13 at the break, they kept the pressure up to win by seven, with Aliksander Tighzer top-scoring with eight goals and Teyu Christin Nguelo (pictured) scoring seven. Stuart Latchford scored eight for Salford, but it was not enough.

Great Dane eased past Manchester in their penultimate match of the play-offs, but it took a second half push to seal the win having only led 10-13 at the break. Philip scored nine times for the London side.

Fourth-placed Olympia maintained their hopes of climbing to third and securing a spot in European competition with a 23-18 victory over a Nottingham University side which battled hard.

Aurelian Gug scored seven times for Olympia, while Jon Mardaras netted eight for Nottingham, who battled the whole match with just seven players available.

Ruislip Eagles Retake League Title

RUISLIP Eagles regained the National Women’s League title on Saturday when they beat title rivals Olympia 32-21 at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre to give themselves an unassailable lead with one game to play.

Olympia were still in with a chance of winning the title themselves if they could beat the Eagles, but after a heavy defeat at their hands earlier in the season, they did well to make a much better fight of it, particularly in the first half.

Ruislip were always in control thanks to another fine performance from their top scoring duo of Zsuzi Telek and Dani Sposi and a season-best showing from Judit Volgyi on the right wing.

Despite being without key central defender Kirstin Pappenfuss, Ruislip’s defence was well marshalled by Milli Chebanova, who put in a series of great blocks and managed the threat of Olympia’s line player.

Eagles’ Head Coach Mel Chowns said: “ It was not a pleasant feeling losing the league last year to worthy winners Great Dane but I am delighted with how the team have responded this year, the team spirit they have shown and the application during training they have given.

“When you consider that we have also been without several key players this season with long term injuries, I am really pleased for the team.”

But the Eagles had little time for celebration as the following day they headed to Manchester to play Deva in the English Cup.

Deva made a great start, catching Eagles cold with a series of fast breaks and racing into a six-goal lead before Ruislip had even got on the score board.

Gradually Ruislip got into the game but Deva were well in contention thanks to great goal-scoring from Popa Florentina and Dorota Basta who added experience to the young team.

With Dani Sposi marked out of the game, Ruislip had to rely on the strength of other players to get the goals and these duly came from Erika Rescka and Bee Bjarnadóttir. Ruislip recovered from their dreadful start to eventually go in at half time with a 20-17 lead.

But Deva kept up the pressure in the second half, with coach Donna Hankinson adopting a very offensive defence, but the experience of Ruislip was too much and they gradually found space through Telek and Dreksler and ran out comfortable 40-30 winners.

Coach Mel Chowns was full of praise for Deva’s young squad: “It was not ideal having two key matches in one weekend but I am so impressed with the work Donna is doing with the young British players in Deva.

“They showed fantastic speed and power for a young team and gave us a lot of problems. This is what we want to see happening in all clubs - giving young British women the chance and I include Ruislip in that.

“We must combine the skills of the European players living here with the development of young home grown talent. Hats off to Deva for driving this.”

A Festival of Handball: EHA Cup Final Day

CRYSTAL Palace National Sports Centre has been confirmed as the venue for this year’s EHA Cup finals on June 4, and it looks set to be a mini festival of handball too!

The action starts at 12noon with the final of the National Girls Cup, and will be followed at 1pm by the boys final between North East Manchester Hawks and Olympia Cannock.

The first of the senior matches is at 2pm, when the women’s EHA Cup final is staged, while the men’s EHA Cup final is at 4pm.

And following the England Handball matches, the GB Women’s team will take on Finland in the qualifying stages of the 2012 European Championship.

Rivals Set for Cup Clash

IN a warm-up for their play-off clash next week, Great Dane and Salford do battle this Saturday in the semi final of the EHA Cup at Leyton SCORE Centre in London.

The winners of the match, which begins at 4pm, will go through to the final on June 4 at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

The other semi final sees Manchester play Ruislip at Greenbank Academy in Liverpool on Saturday (3pm start).

Meanwhile, in the Women’s EHA Cup Olympia play Deva at Crystal Palace on Saturday (12noon start), while newly-crowned league champions Ruislip Eagles take on former champions Great Dane at Leyton (2pm start).

And in the Men’s Plate competition, Cambridge play Oxford University at Moulton near Northampton at 12noon, following which Warwick University play Bristol at 2pm.

Scottish Cup Finals: Line-up Confirmed

TRYST will play Gracemount in the final of the Men’s Scottish Cup after two thrilling semi final clashes took place last weekend.

The top two teams in Scotland, Glasgow and Tryst, did battle in the first semi final which was supposed to be a close affair. But with Glasgow fielding just the bare seven players due to injuries and unavailabilities, Tryst ran out 40-32 winners.

Tryst started very strongly and opened up a 5-1 lead after just a few minutes, and Glasgow’s number of players reduced even further when their centre player got a red card during the first half.

To compound the problems, one of their court players as well as their goalkeeper picked up injuries, but managed to stay on court for the rest of the game.

Tryst kept the goal difference at around 7-8 goals and looked comfortable, but Glasgow fought on and reduced Tryst’s lead to 3-4 goals, mainly due to Danos Sagias with 17 goals.

However, they didn’t have the energy to get closer against Tryst’s full team.

Sagias was the game’s top-scorer, while for Tryst Mark McLaughlan scored nine and Gary McCafferty 7.

The other semi final was a closer affair, with Gracemount scraping past East Kilbride 30-29.
EK’s strength in attack surprised their rivals, but it wasn’t enough to make it to the final. Mick Lavery and Jose Benavidez both scored six for EK, while Christian Wolf (9) and Vincent Martinez (7) were Glasgow’s best.

Hawks Fly into Final

NORTH East Manchester Hawks Under-18 boys booked their place in the final of the National Cup with a 23-12 victory over rivals Deva last weekend.
A solid defensive performance underpinned their semi-final victory. Goalkeeper Terry Ellis made some key early saves, including a penalty, and the Hawks were 10-6 ahead at half time.

James Higgins and Sam Bedlow made several surging drives, while playmaker Stefan Whaley racked up the points consistently and wide players Jamal Braithwaite, Tyrell Coley and Pavel Winnick played their part in rotation.

But coach Donna Hankinson reserved special praise for line player Matthew Barnes, playing at that position for the first time in the absence of injured Wesley Hunt.

“We lost to Deva by a point in the league play-off semis in February and have been working very hard in training since with current GB men’s captain Ciaran Williams, who has been inspirational,” said Hankinson.

“This result was reward for all that hard work and now it’s a job half done.”

The Hawks can now look forward to an encounter with Cannock at Crystal Palace on June 4, who beat Warrington Wolves 26-18 in the other semi-final at Birchwood Sports Centre, Warrington.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

England U19s Get Taste of International Handball

THE growth of handball in England took a major step forward last week when the newly-formed England Under-19 men’s team held a training camp at the Aarhus Sports Academy in Denmark.

Under the guidance of Head Coach and GB international Scott Harrington, the young team played three matches against a variety of teams from the Academy, which is where the majority of the GB players were based from 2007-2009.

And despite being at least three years younger than their opponents, the England team played well and drew compliments from players and coaches at the tournament who were surprised by the good standard of handball.

“We came into this camp with a clear objective: to turn enthusiastic teenagers into handball players - and for me it’s objective achieved,” said Harrington. “The lads have shown to both me and everyone involved that they have massive potential.

“As well as the two-day tournament, the team trained in different aspects of handball, including strength and conditioning, agility, core stability and injury prehab so our players could experience what it takes to become a world class handball player.”

The team also received one-to-one guidance from several of the GB players who are based out in Denmark, and Harrington added: “All the sessions proved invaluable for our boys - it’s now up to them to go away and build on what they have learnt over the past week, so we can continue to improve as individuals and as a team.”

And GB international John Pearce, who worked with the England Under-19 players during their stay, added: “This has been my first chance to see the work being put in to secure the legacy for handball in the UK that we all want.

“I have to admit I was surprised by the level of a number of the guys who came out here. They really looked like youth handball players and considering the number of obstacles in the way for handball in the UK that is quite an achievement.

“I wanted to get involved because I really believe there is potential for handball to grow in the UK. With 65 million people there is room for other sports, not just football, rugby and cricket.

“There is still a long way to go, we need to catch players earlier. We need to get kids playing the sport at the age of five or six, with appropriate coaching and facilities for the legacy to really develop after 2012. The first steps have been taken and I look forward to seeing how the journey develops.”

Table Topping Great Dane Defend Lead

REIGNING champions and play-off league leaders Great Dane take on Manchester in their penultimate play-off match of the season at Greenbank Sports Academy in Liverpool on Sunday.

They will be aiming to replicate the 23-15 victory they inflicted on their rivals in March, knowing that they need a win to stay ahead of the chasing pack.

Second-placed Ruislip Eagles take on former leaders Salford, and while they beat their Northern rivals in their previous clash in March they will be taking nothing for granted after a long journey from London.

Finally, Nottingham University play Olympia in the day’s final clash.

The first match is Manchester v Great Dane at 1130, which will be followed by Salford v Ruislip at 1330 and Nottingham v Olympia at 1530.

Ruislip Women Face Double Header

THE two remaining unbeaten teams, Deva and Ruislip Eagles will do battle this Sunday in Manchester to see who tops their group in the Women’s EHA Cup.

The match at Sugden Sports Centre starts at 1.30pm, and for Ruislip it will be their second tough match of the weekend following their National League clash with Olympia at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Also on Saturday Deva Men will be in action in the EHA Plate, where they will play host to Oxford.