The BVB women's handball team brought the first half of their Bundesliga campaign to a successful conclusion by beating Bayer Leverkusen 35-27 (13-12) in the 47th meeting between the two tradition-steeped clubs. Dana Bleckmann, who scored 11 goals, was the player of the match.

The scenario: The two clubs had faced off on 46 previous occasions. Both BVB and Bayer Leverkusen had claimed 21 victories apiece. The last time the Werkself came out on top was on 16 September 2018 (23-21). After a draw in the return fixture that season, the Black & Yellows subsequently won five matches in a row – some of them by a clear margin. 

Personnel matters: Left-winger Lena Hausherr was not ready to play. Hausherr needed to take two more days out following an accident in training, leaving Zoë Sprengers on her own down the left flank.

The match & analysis: The Leverkusen ladies, who are coached by Swedish tactician Johan Petersson, went about their business in self-confident fashion following two Bundesliga wins on the bounce. Bayer led 4-0 within four minutes, in part because BVB had missed several good chances and been hit with two time penalties for Alina Grijseels and Frida Rønning. A rather unusual start for BVB. With only five minutes played, Henk Groener called time-out for the first time.

BVB then defended considerably more offensively – especially Alina Grjiseels, who made it 4-3 via a counter-attack. Dana Bleckmann levelled at 4-4 (9). Frida Rønning then scored a seven-metre throw and Haruno Sasaki rounded off a high-tempo counter to make it 7-5. But neither team could pull away decisively before the break. BVB led 13-12 at the close of the first period thanks to a strong display from goalie Yara ten Holte, who had saved three seven-metre throws.

BVB were more efficient going forward after the interval. Thanks to a very good defensive spell, the Black & Yellows went 18-15 ahead within five minutes. In particular, the passing to pivot Lisa Antl worked better than in the first 30 minutes. 

Alina Grijseels subsequently produced her usual dynamic display, Dana Bleckmann scored confidently from the backcourt and the BVB defence had Leverkusen's Viola Leuchter under control. By the 53rd minute, it stood at 30-25 thanks to two goals from Emma Olsson and the game was all but up. As Bayer briefly marked Alina Grijseels in the final minutes, Dana Bleckmann used the space that had opened up to take her tally to 11 goals. It ultimately ended in a deserved 35-27 win – despite a total of five missed seven-metre throws.

BVB coach Henk Groener: "Overall I'm satisfied, although we still missed a lot of chances – including five seven-metre throws. But not everything that we set out to do worked out."

Rupert Thiele, interim head of department: "We were too passive in the first 15 minutes, we marked more aggressively in the second half. Dana Bleckmann and Yara ten Holte performed strongly."

Outlook: The Bundesliga campaign will continue with a trip to SV Union Halle-Neustadt on Wednesday 8 February. Beforehand, BVB will be in EHF European League action against ES Besançon Feminin on Sunday 5 February. Throw-off at the Westpress-Arena in Hamm will be at 14:00 CET.

BVB women's handball team: Moth, ten Holte, Kohorst; Grijseels (3), Sprengers (4), Kusian (1), Ossenkopp (4), Olsson (2), Sasaki (3), Rønning (3/1), Bleckmann (11/1), Garovic, Antl (4), Stens