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03.06.2016, 23:10
National champions of Europe – Women part 1: North-west
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DOMESTIC LEAGUES: While Neistin celebrated their 41st championship title in Faroe Islands, Denmark saw a maiden triumph of Esbjerg.
 

National champions of Europe – Women part 1: North-west

Most of the domestic leagues have come to an end and we now approach the draws of the 2016/17 European season. In six parts, the spotlight is shone on each of the national champions and their path to glory. The opening part consists of teams from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Scotland and England.

DENMARK
First title for Esbjerg

The final in Denmark was a remake of last year’s final, as Team Esbjerg and FC Midtjylland were facing each other again.

Esbjerg were seeking revenge for the narrow defeat last year and having won the league’s regular season, they were in a good position, playing the second leg at home.

FC Midtjylland had the upper hand in the first match in the Ikast Brande Arena, where the home team won a low-scoring game 20:17.

The return match in Blue Water Dokken in Esbjerg did not contain any more goals – just as few as the first leg, in fact.

After a 6:5 half-time lead for Esbjerg, the scoreboard said 20:17 for the home side once again at the final buzzer.

According to the rules of the Danish championship, the teams went straight to penalty shooting, which Esbjerg won 4:2, and the women from the far west of Denmark could celebrate the first Danish championship ever.

SWEDEN
IK Sävehof for the 8th time in a row

For the 8th time in a row, IK Sävehof could lift the trophy as Swedish champions, and just like in the final last year, Skuru IK were the losing finalists.

Stockholm based Skuru got the better start to the final and were leading 6:4, but after Sävehof managed to catch up at 8:8, the reigning champions had the momentum, and already at half-time, Sävehof had turned the tables and were leading 13:11.

In the second half, the favourites from Partille near Gothenburg increased their half-time lead and won 27:22, so that Henrik Signell could end his time as head coach in Sävehof with another title before taking over as coach of Sweden’s women´s team.

Next season, Robert Wedberg will be in charge of Sävehof in their hunt for their ninth successive title.

NORWAY
Larvik defend the throne, last time with Nora Mørk

Once again, Larvik were in a league of their own in Norway.

The Norwegian record champions added a further triumph to their long list of title.

In fact, they booked two triumphs, and they won the league for the 18th time, and then went on to win the play-off for the 15th time in history.

Larvik’s opponents in the final of the play-offs were Glassverket who were not able to offer much resistance in the two-legged final, though.
Glassverket had the home advantage in Drammenshallen for the first leg, but Larvik had no trouble winning by no less than 12 goals, 33:21.

This virtually reduced the return match in the Arena Larvik into a formality, but this did not make the Larvik ladies take things easily.

11 goals was the distance after these 60 minutes, which Larvik won 33:22.

To Nora Mørk, the last final was a particularly emotional affair.

The match was her 225th and last for Larvik, before she moves on to Györi Audi ETO KC from next season.

ICELAND
Four final matches necessary for Grótta

Just like with the men, the women’s final series is being played best of five, but Grótta only needed four of these five matches to secure the title against Stjarnan.

Grótta started the series with a 25:21 win at home, and in the second leg, they seemed to be cruising towards an early decision.

No less than 28:18 did they win way, but Stjarnan came back in the third match and took a surprising 22:20 away win in match three.
In the fourth game, however, Grótta left no doubt.

After leading as clearly as 17:11 at half-time, they won 28:23 and could celebrate the title on Stjarnan’s home ground.

FAROE ISLANDS
Neistin for the 41st time

Once again, HC Neistin were crowned as Faroe Island champions in women’s handball.
It was no less than the 41st time the Neistin women could celebrate this achievement, and just like last season, the triumph was made perfect against their rivals Kyndil from Torshavn.

However, it was far from being an easy win for the record champions this time. The deciding match became just as tight as it was low-scoring, and not until the last second could Brynja Høj score the deciding goal, which gave Neistin the 13:12 win and their 41st championship.

BELGIUM
Hasselt do it again

For the second straight time and for the 13th in total, Hubo Initia Hasselt are Belgian women champions. In two quite one-sided finals, they beat QubiQ Achilles Bocholt 27:21 at home and 27:22 away.

Bocholt and Hasselt had imprinted the play-offs before and topped the ranking equal twelve points in the end, leaving Femina Vise behind - the winner of the regular season. The first final was equal until the break (12:11), then Hasselt were stronger in attack, led by their top scorer Edel Robyns, who netted in seven times.

Bocholt’s hopes had been shattered, and even on home ground they were only with little chance against the new and old champions. Already at the break, the deal had been sealed, when leading 13:7 - and again Robyns (eight goals) and goalkeeper Renata Jatulevice were the key to success. 

LUXEMBOURG
Second double for Dudelange

Like 2015, HB Dudelange women’s team made their dream of the double come true and became national champion and cup winner. After Sascha Burg in the 2014/15 season, Nicola Malesevic ,his successor as HBD coach led the team throughout a dominant season. Dudelange won all ten play-off matches and finally were nine points ahead of runners-up Kaerjeng.

In the Luxembourgish cup they won the final against Museldall Grevenmacher 25:20.

In the league, It was Dudelange’s fourth straight title, and it was secured already three rounds before the end and before the 38:25 away win at the second ranked - but: the best Luxembourgish women’s side Roude Leiw Bascharage play in the third German division since some years.

NETHERLANDS
Dalfsen surprise them all again

Although it was their sixth straight title in the Dutch league, it was something like a sensation that SERCODAK Dalfsen were on top again after the final series against VOC Amsterdam.

The face of the team had changed completely, nearly all experienced players had left the club, thus coach Peter Portegem (also assistant coach of the Oranje national team) had to build up a completely new squad.

“We never could expect this, I am so proud on this team,” Portegem said after the 24:22 win in the crucial third final.

After a clear 24:31 away defeat, Dalfsen turned the tide first on home ground (21:19) and then again at Amsterdam. “It was a magnificent, as totally unexpected trophy,” line player and Dutch international Fabienne Logtenberg said - one month after the club had announced that due to financial reason it will stop with the current season.

At the end a cooperation with the Zwolle Football Club saved the future of Dalfsen later.

IRELAND
Second title in a row for Dublin International

Dublin International's women's team won the league thanks to a dominant first half leading to a 17:11 win over Astra HC.

This was the second triumph in a row for the team which only began competing in 2013. Victory in the cup meant that it was their first double, coupled with the men’s team’s success meant a clean sweep for the club in 2015/16.

SCOTLAND
Only one defeat in the season for Tryst

Tryst 77 continued their dominance of women's handball in Scotland with a league and cup double.
Edinburgh pushed the champions for much of the season, but Tryst lifted the trophy with just one loss and a number of emphatic victories.

ENGLAND
Both the league and the cup claimed by London clubs

London GD’s women won the Super 8 for the second consecutive season, losing just one match en route to the title ahead of Coventry and Olympia.
Coventry and Olympia squared off in the cup final, with London side Olympia emerging 19:18 victors.


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