What a difference a week makes as Health365 Hatters were pushed all the way by title rivals Nottingham Wildcats.
Katie Crowley and Co. had demolished Wildcats in the National Cup Final by over 30 points but there was to be no repeat in the National League Division One clash at All Saints.
The visitors led 17-12 after the first quarter, 34-29 at the break and 46-43 going into the final session but the never-say-die Hatters held their nerve to gain a heart-stopping 60-58 victory in which successful free throws from top scorer Sarah Naylor proved crucial. Naylor finished with 17 points, one ahead of Stephanie Gandy while her sister Helen netted seven.
It was much more clear cut for Hatters in the second part of their double-header as they eclipsed second-from-bottom Team Northumbria to retain their top spot.
Hatters struggled initially and it wasn’t until the middle of the third quarter that they really took control of the game as they opened up a commanding 79-50 advantage. There was no way back for the home side as the table-toppers closed out 105-66 winners.
Main scorers: Sarah Naylor 28, Helen Naylor 25, Katie Crowley 20.
Top of the table: Health365Hatters pld 11, pts diff 176, pts 20; UWIC Archers 12, 127, 20; Nottm Wildcats 11, 80, 16; Leeds Carnegie 13, -9, 16.
The Under-16s found National League North leaders Manchester Mystics too hot to handle as they dipped to a 74-35 home defeat.
Team and scorers: Serena Sampson 12, Mairead Faulkner 8, Rhianna Laing 8, Isobel Hannity 3, Zuiko Kafamba 3, Naomi Benson 2, Jess Dooley, Katie Burgoyne, Abbie Simpson and Courtney Shaw
Saturday’s fixtures: National Division One: Sevenoaks Suns v Health365 Hatters; Division 2: Sefton Starlights v Hatters 11; Under-16s: Newcastle Eagles v Hatters; Under-14s: Northants Lightning and Leeds Carnegie v Hatters, in Northampton. Sunday: Division 2: Hatters 11 v Mansfield Giants.