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.”