Plymouth Pilgrims end a run of three defeats with win over relegation-haunted Weston
PLYMOUTH Pilgrims put a healthy distance between themselves and Regional One's drop-zone with a 59-42 win over relegation-haunted Weston at the Life Centre.
While the city side, now fourth, are hardly in trouble, head coach Sadie Burt made it clear the rebuilding Pilgrims wanted to keep it that way.
"It was one of those games where it was a must-win," said Burt afterwards.
"We've just lost three games on the bounce and it was important to maintain the distance between ourselves and the bottom teams.
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"The top two are clear, but the other teams are all getting a bit squeezed up.
"Before the game, we said we needed to work a bit more on our intensity and I think we surprised ourselves at how well that went.
"We are definitely pleased with the result and if we can finish in the top half of the table, we will be happy."
Pilgrims started quickly, racking up an 18-5 lead in the first quarter.
By half-time, they were 31-13 ahead, but second-bottom Weston pinned the home team back in the third quarter.
Pilgrims rode the storm and closed the game down in the fourth, centre-courter Becky Lawrence receiving Weston's nomination for player of the match.
Burt was not going to argue with that choice.
"She (Lawrence) is Miss Consistency. She was player of the match in our last game as well.
"But I have to be honest – the entire team played really well this week."
A major plus for Pilgrims was that influential defender Claire Grainger got through her first full game since a serious injury and the birth of her daughter Ruby.
Grainger had been suffering from Achilles tendon damage, sustained when she was walking off the court following a match.
"Claire came on for a bit last week, but she had her first full game since her return and she did very well," said Burt.
Meanwhile, Plymouth Marjon boss Donna Bristow has told her Regional Two team that they need three wins from their last four matches to absolutely guarantee survival.
Marjon lost 54-46 at home against Almondsbury and are two places and 13 points outside the division's relegation zone.
Bristow's team is also suffering from a goal-drought – they are making plenty of chances, but are unable to put them away.
The Marjon team manager insisted, however, that her shooters would pull through their barren spell.
She said: "It's just unfortunate at the moment and a bit frustrating, obviously.
"There's nothing wrong with the way our shooters are playing – in fact, if people saw them on court, they would appreciate how much work they are putting in.
"We are playing well in defence and centre court at the moment and we're making the chances, but they're just not going in.
"However, I believe the shooters are just going through a dry spell and I am sure they will pull out of it soon."
Meanwhile, Bristow is having to cope with a lengthy injury list, which has robbed her of several first-teamers.
She said: "There's two of our players who have had ACL operations and another one who may have to have one.
"We've got another two out with ankle injuries, so we're surviving on what we've got left, which has been difficult this season.
"I don't think we'll be in any trouble in the league at the end of the season – we picked up another bonus point over the weekend.
"But to make absolutely sure that we stay up, we need to win three of our last four games.
"It's all about consolidating this season and making sure that we're ready for next year."