A sporting case of sink of swim. That was the stark challenge laid down to the Scottish Thistles in January when they took on the reigning Commonwealth Games champions, New Zealand’s Silver Ferns, in two exhibition matches.

A high risk strategy maybe, but one that paid dividends when having been soundly beaten 18-72 in the first match the Thistles showed a tremendous resilience and strength of character to go down by a much improved 26-63 scoreline in the second. This against the No.1 ranked team in the world.

The Thistles’ performance bodes well for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games in relation to which netball’s undoubted appeal has already been proven; the tournament a sell-out with some 60,000 tickets being snapped up for 11 days of action. The sport received a further boost recently with the news that the Commonwealth Games Netball Finals on Sunday 3rd August will held at the SSE Hydro allowing 000’s more spectators the opportunity to witness what promises to be a spectacular finale.

Extra tickets for finals day are due to go on sale soon via the Glasgow 2014 website and rest assured we’ll keep you posted via our Twitter feed @sportonspec as soon as they do. But in the meantime there’s plenty of top-class netball to enjoy in the lead up to the summer courtesy of the Netball Premier League (NPL).  And if you fancy being present to watch the action live, up close and personal; read on!

The NPL is the top domestic league in Scotland consisting of 6 teams.  Formed in 2011 as a venture between Glasgow and Lanarkshire netball the NPL includes national players in weekly action looking to secure a coveted place on the Thistles Commonwealth squad. From now until the end of the season we’ll be bringing you details of the fixtures at the Emirates Arena so that you can be there to watch; for free!

The current 2013/2014 season is approaching the business end with the title of NPL champions and also promotion/relegation from/to the 1st division of respective Glasgow and Lanarkshire leagues to be decided. Glasgow and Lanarkshire each have their own regional league structure and the winner of their Division 1s play each other with the victor through to play the bottom team of the NPL: a winner-takes-all match with a place in next season’s NPL at stake. The current league standings can be found here on the Glasgow Netball Association (GNA) website.

The NPL league leaders are Scotstoun 1 who boast none other than Lesley MacDonald (a Scottish netball legend with 100 international caps to her name) and national stars Hayley Mulheron and Karin Connell in their squad. And it’s with Scotstoun 1 we start this Wednesday 12th February, as they take on bottom club Harmony 2 at the Emirates Arena.

The action starts at 8.40pm sharp and if you’ve never been to a netball match this is the perfect opportunity to see what you are missing. Matches are four quarters of 15 minutes with never a dull moment in what is a fast-moving, skilful and surprisingly physical sport. You will also get to see plenty of goals: guaranteed!

Teams are 7-a-side with the aim of the game to score as many goals as possible from within an area called the Goal Circle: a semi-circle on the goal line. Only two players are allowed to shoot in this area for each team. Positions to look for, as indicated via the team kits, include the GS (Goal Shooter) and GA (Goal Attack) who are responsible for shooting the all-important goals and the GD (Goal Defence) and GK (Goal Keeper) on the opposition whose job it is to stop them.

Details of all the NPL fixtures at the Emirates Arena will be highlighted in the SoS weekly update, as we follow the season to its climax in April with the crowning of this year’s champions and the play-off matches to decide who secures a place in next season’s NPL.

If you haven’t done so already now is the perfect time to subscribe to the Sport on Spec e-newsletter.  Our free weekly update, delivered straight to your inbox, has the latest ticket news for all your live sport: a fail-safe way to ensure you don’t miss a moment of sporting action in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games and beyond!

Yours in Sport,

Tim Underhill
Founder – SportonSpec

*The picture in this post was taken by Ian Steele Photography and is used by kind permission of Netball Scotland.  To find out more about playing netball and the national team visit their website*