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Match report

Strong second half: Women's handballers win away to bottom club

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The Borussia Dortmund women's handballers claimed a deserved 31-24 (17-15) victory in their clash with bottom club SU Neckarsulm thanks to a significantly improved performance in the second period. The most prolific Borussia player was Haruno Sasako, who scored seven goals.

The scenario: Following the three-week international break, second-placed Dortmund were up against bottom club SU Neckarsulm. The home team proved to be an unpleasant opponent in the reverse fixture and only lost by three goals in their 26-23 defeat in Dortmund.

Personnel matters: With the exception of long-term injury absentees Dana Bleckmann and Lena Degenhardt, coach Henk Groener had all his players at his disposal.

The match & analysis: The Ballei-Sporthalle in Neckarsulm was well-filled with 900 fans in attendance and it proved from the off to be the battle BVB had anticipated. Neckarsulm led 2-1 by the fourth minute. It became clear early on that it would not be a walk in the park for BVB and that the surprisingly close 27-24 defeat the home side had suffered against league leaders Bietigheim had not been a coincidence.

The Borussia ladies took the lead for the first time when Lena Hausherr put them 8-7 up on 16 minutes, but they immediately conceded two goals scored by Nina Engel and Sharon Nooitmeer. Borussia coach Henk Groener subsequently called his first time-out. "We have to close down more in defence, they always go through in 1 on 1 play," Groener said.

That measure and the premature introduction of Haruno Sasaki (four goals before the break) quickly brought success. BVB led 11-9 by the 20th minute thanks to goals from Harma van Kreij and Meret Ossenkopp. And so it continued. With the concentration and energy levels in the Neckarsulm ranks dropping off, the Borussia defence shut down the attacking efforts from the hosts at an early stage. With four minutes until the break, Meret Ossenkopp scored her third goal to make it 15-12. BVB went into the break with a 17-15 lead thanks to a strong individual effort from Carmen Campos.

Henk Groener brought on Tess Lieder to replace Sarah Wachter in goal in the second period, while both Zoë Sprengers and later also Frida Rønning and Maraike Kusian entered the fray. BVB quickly upped their lead to 18-15 through Haruno Sasaki (31). It was all but over as a contest prior to the 40th minute. BVB's strong, powerful and compact defence hardly conceded another goal and forced Neckarsulm into numerous misses. The Borussia ladies found themselves 23-18 ahead (41) and continued to pull away in the period that followed. Antl, Campos and Sprengers increased the advantage to 26-19 (48). Neckarsulm were beaten, while BVB extended their lead to 31-24 by the end thanks to their experience and a safe pair of hands at the back in Tess Lieder.

Henk Groener: "We watched the game against Bietigheim and drew our conclusions from it. I can only say that Neckarsulm don't belong down there. We knew that it would be close. The first half was accordingly tight. We managed to perform better in the second half, particularly in defence. We conceded 15 goals in the first half and only nine in the second. That says it all."

Women's handballers: Wachter, Lieder; Hausherr (3/1), Sprengers (2/1), Kusian (4), Antl (1), van Kreij (4), Stolle (1), Ossenkopp (4), Sasaki (7), Olsson (1), Rønning, Campos (4)

Outlook: Following the postponement of their top match at SG BBM Bietigheim until 22 May, the Borussia ladies now have a two-week break. Next up is a home game against BSV Sachsen Zwickau at Halle Wellinghofen on Saturday 4 May.