Team Bath Netball looking to build momentum after sealing Superleague semi-final place
Team Bath Netball have achieved their first goal of the season after a hard-fought 51-41 win at Team Northumbria secured their place in the Vitality Netball Superleague semi-finals.
Now Director of Netball Jess Thirlby wants the team to play with freedom and commitment in their last two matches of the regular season and continue to build their confidence and momentum before challenging for a sixth Superleague crown.
“Qualifying with two games to go is a good position to be in, especially as it has been a really competitive season,” she said.
“It is the first target hit but we feel like it is just stage one of our goals for the season, so everyone was a bit muted after the game unsure of how much attention to pay to our semi-final qualification.
“We had to remind each other that we should be patting ourselves on the back for what we have achieved so far. This is testament to the team’s ambition to go all the way and take nothing for granted.
“It was a highly physical game on Saturday and the team at the beginning of the season may have found themselves in more trouble but we have shown real growth in our resilience and ability to get through games where the opposition is putting us under real pressure.
“We handled it really well on Saturday and [Head Coach] Anna [Stembridge] and I are incredibly proud of how the players maintained their performance. They have definitely come a long way this season.”
A 61-51 defeat for fifth-placed Loughborough Lightning at Manchester Thunder earlier on Saturday meant Team Bath – backed by Carter Jonas – went into their game knowing a win would guarantee a top-four finish.
A tense opening quarter In Newcastle saw the visitors edge into a 12-11 lead but they were much stronger in the second period and stretched the gap to 27-19.
Team Northumbria continued to battle and won the third quarter 13-12 but Team Bath were able to hold firm and went on to close out a 51-41 victory.
Next up is a trip to Hertfordshire Mavericks, who currently lead the Superleague table on goal average from Manchester Thunder.
This Saturday’s match could be a dress rehearsal for the semi-finals and Thirlby wants to see the Blue and Gold put in a strong performance, especially after suffering defeat in the reverse fixture last month.
“The Mavericks game was already a critical step on our journey,” she said. “It is important that we come away this weekend feeling like we have made a massive step forwards against the top teams. We need that for our confidence going into the semi-finals.
“We go to Loughborough Lightning on the last day of the regular season and despite the fact they can’t qualify for the semi-finals now, that will also be an incredibly tough match.
“But it’s good we have these difficult away games to finish on. The shackles are off and hopefully the players will be able to perform with real freedom.”
Finishing in the top four means Team Bath will definitely be heading to the Copper Box Arena in London on Saturday, May 7 for the season finale, either for the Grand Final or the third-place play-off.
Tickets for the showpiece event are on sale priced either £32 or £24 for adults and £24 or £16 for under-16s. They are available at http://tickets.sky.com/Netball/Vitality-Netball-Superleague-Grand-Final.
Team Bath’s end-of-season awards dinner will take place on Sunday, May 22 at Somerset County Cricket Club in Taunton in collaboration with the England Netball and Netball South West Goalden Globes Awards.
Tickets, which include a two-course buffet meal, are priced £25 for adults and £15 for under-16s. They are on sale in the netball section of the Team Bath Online Store – http://store.bath.ac.uk.
Team Bath Netball starting seven v Team Northumbria: GS – Chelsea Lewis, GA – Rachel Shaw, WA – Jo Vann, C – Mia Ritchie, WD – Claire Brownie, GD – Eboni Beckford-Chambers, GK – Sam Cook. Bench: Lenize Potgieter, Shaunagh Craig, Amanda Varey, Nicole Humphreys, Karla Mostert.
Changes: Q2: Vann – WA to bench, Varey – bench to WA, Beckford-Chambers – GD to GK, Cook – GK to GD. Q3: Potgieter – bench to GS, Lewis – GS to GA, Shaw – GA to bench. Q4: Lewis – GA to bench, Craig – bench to GA, Varey – WA to bench, Vann – bench to WA, Cook – GD to bench, Mostert – bench to GD.