12th February 2018
The battles continued in the semi-finals of the England Handball Men’s National Shield, with a Welsh team having made it to the last eight.
South Wales made an early morning trip over the Severn Bridge for their match against Guildford Sabres, but were sent back home defeated 36-24. Sabres rushed into a 17-8 half time lead, and on their home turf extended that in the second half to record a 12 goal margin of victory at the final whistle. Daniel Sullivan scored eight times for the home team, with both Vasco Correia and Allan Jard finding the net seven times. In response, Zoltan Polik scored six times for the Welshmen.
Sabres progress into the semi-final where they would face the winner of Loughborough University versus Essex Hurricanes.
Loughborough welcomed Hurricanes to a match on the university campus, where the students hoped to emulate their female counterparts who have qualified for the semi-finals in the Women’s National Shield. Inspired by the home crowd, Loughborough powered into a half-time lead of 12-9, after four first half goals from Thibaud Lanrezic. Yet despite having a playing squad of just seven people, Hurricanes responded after the break with four goals each from Zoran Lukacs, Ben Hakimonitch and Giedrius Zavatkauskis to grab victory by three goals.
Final score 24-27 sees the Hurricanes qualify for the semi-finals to play Guildford Sabres.
The third match of the weekend saw Coventry Sharks host the University of Bath in Coventry Leisure Centre. Sharks are unbeaten so far this season and sit top of the National Handball League North, but were pushed all the way by the students in a high-scoring match. The teams went in at the break with Sharks 19-14 in front.
They stretched their lead in the second half to a final score of 40-32, with goals aplenty for both sides. Boris Bailleul top scored for the Sharks with eight goals; Aubrey Vidal and Marcel Kunac both netted seven times. For the students, Omar El-Nagar found the net nine times and Diego Cruhet Roman and Bradley Stonehewer grabbed eight each.
The final National Shield match in this round will be staged the following weekend, when Reading Lions will travel to Newcastle Vikings in a Saturday match at Temple Park. This promises to be a close match as both teams have a point to prove this season, with the Vikings lacking a league win so far and the Lions with only one to their name. Throw off is at 12.30 on Saturday 17 February.
The second semi-final will be contested between the winner of Lions versus Vikings and Coventry Sharks on the weekend of 17/18 March.