Sunderland’s netball teams faced an uphill struggle at Clash of the Minsters on Wednesday, with all three playing against York St John sides from higher divisions, but the scores improved game by game and the Firsts went on to clinch a dramatic, but well deserved, draw.

The day’s Netball started with the Thirds match and then the Seconds, building up to the showpiece event with the Firsts the last to compete.

Thirds Match – Sunderland 2-72 York St John

Sunderland’s Thirds fell to a substantial defeat in the opening game with York St John dominating from start to finish, to annihilate the hosts, winning by 70 points. The visitors controlled the game from start to finish and the scoreline told a fair story of how the game panned out, with Sunderland rarely threatening going forwards.

With three minutes on the clock, neither team had scored a point, but once York St John got going the floodgates opened. The first quarter finished with the visitors leading 1-15, which would go on to be Sunderland’s best quarter of the match.

The second quarter followed a similar pattern, with York St John finishing on 1-17 to make the score 2-32 at half time.

The visitors were in fine form which they continued in into the third quarter, where they scored 20 unanswered points, to lead 2-52 with 15 minutes remaining.

York St John managed another quarter without conceding a point, while equalling their own scoring record in the previous quarter to win the game 2-72.

Seconds Match – Sunderland 10-61 York St John

Sunderland’s Seconds put in a spirited display against their York St John equivalents, but it wasn’t enough as they fell to a comprehensive defeat at City Space. The hosts weren’t helped by an injury in the second quarter, to a Wing Attack who was causing problems for York St John, but by that point the visitors had already built up a solid lead.

York St John were quick out of the blocks in the first quarter and showed why they play in a higher division, taking a 3-18 lead into the break.

Sunderland showed resilience in second quarter and gave a good account of themselves, but it was still York St John who came out on top after a strong end to the quarter which saw it finish 4-11, to give the visitors a half time lead of 7-29.

York St John remained on top in the third quarter, but were being restricted and struggle to exert their authority on the game. While they didn’t concede as many points, Sunderland didn’t offer a great deal going forwards with the quarter ending 2-9, making it 9-38 to York St John.

The visitors saved their best ’til last and demolished Sunderland in the final quarter, which ended 1-23 to see York St John finish 10-61 winners.

Firsts Match – Sunderland 40-40 York St John

After two heavy defeats, there wasn’t much home optimism around City Space heading into the Firsts Match, but a dogged Sunderland side did more than just make up the numbers against their higher division opponents in a gripping tie.

Both sides showed aggression in their attacking play which made for a competitive encounter from the start, though York St John lead for the majority of the game.

The first quarter finished 9-12 to York St John, but Sunderland looked content at the break with the scoreline still close and everything left to play for in the next 45 minutes.

York St John led throughout the second quarter, which followed a similar pattern to the first with the away team winning 10-12, to take a 19-24 lead into half time.

Sunderland fought back after the break and controlled the third quarter, outscoring York St John 13-10 to reduce the deficit and make the overall score 32-34.

The hosts carried their momentum into a thrilling final quarter and Sunderland pulled the game level at 36-36 with 10 minutes to go and even took the lead a minute later, but York St John came back strongly to go three points ahead midway through the quarter.

Both teams kept fighting until the whistle and with 30 seconds left York St John led 40-38. Sunderland scored a point with 24 seconds remaining and from the centre pass, worked the ball forwards to create another opportunity and level the score with just eight seconds left on the clock.

York St John managed to work a chance at the other end, but with one second remaining it was rushed, and bounced off the side of the net to see the game finish 40-40.