Golden start to 2021-22 season as Team Bath Netball win British Fast5 All-Stars Championship for first time
Team Bath Netball are celebrating after being crowned as British Fast5 All-Stars champions for the first time following an epic afternoon at London’s Copper Box Arena.
The Haines Watts-sponsored Blue & Gold produced a series of tactical team performances and impactful displays from every player in the 10-strong squad to take the title, captain Imogen Allison lifting the trophy following a 23-17 win over Saracens Mavericks in the final.
Lucy Herdman, brought into the squad for her shooting expertise, scored two crucial last-gasp goals en route to the final and England star Layla Guscoth became the first defender ever to be named as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after helping a well-organised Team Bath outfit bounce back from defeat to Manchester Thunder in their second game with some inspirational displays.
An excellent day all round saw Academy graduates Molly Hole and Lily Jones make their senior debuts for Team Bath, whose triumphant squad also included vice-captain Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Betsy Creak, Kirsty Harris, Tash Pavelin and Jess Shaw.
Anna Stembridge, Team Bath Superleague Head Coach, said: “It’s been so much fun. We’ve tried to embrace the rules and we’ve loved it. Ultimately you play the game to win but we also talk about having fun and we wanted to do that.
“There were some close games which were great for the spectators but not great for my hairline! Having that loss against Thunder put the fire in the belly and it meant we could control the narrative.”
Guscoth added: “It was a hard day but a good day and all worth it to come away with a gold medal, we loved it.
“I am the old one in the team, these guys kept me going, and all credit to [fellow defenders] Molly and Tash. It’s nice to get the win and hopefully it gives our players plenty of confidence to come away with. Thank you so much to everyone that came out to support.”
Team Bath, who are also supported by Rengen, provided plenty of entertainment and drama throughout an action-packed day for the spectators watching in the Arena, on Sky Sports and online.
Herdman’s first last-second winner came in their opening match against London Pulse, the Severn Stars player holding her nerve to secure a 27-26 victory, but Manchester Thunder used their Golden Buzzer two-minute double-points powerplay to excellent effect in the second match to beat Team Bath 36-16.
The double-elimination format meant Team Bath had a second chance to reach the semi-finals and they took it confidently, this time beating Pulse 23-17 to set up a showdown with 2018 champions Wasps.
The Blue & Gold played brilliantly to lead 28-23 with a minute to go, only to be pegged back to all square by a Wasps five-pointer, but the last action of a thrilling contest saw Allison’s feed rebound off the post to the perfectly-positioned Herdman, who finished coolly to send her team through to the final.
Team Bath had lost their previous Fast5 final in 2017 but came out on top this time as they used their Golden Buzzer perfectly to build up a lead against Mavericks, then worked tirelessly to keep their dangerous opponents at arm’s length to secure a 23-17 success and the silverware.
It was a great way to start preparations for the 2022 Vitality Superleague season, which begins in February. Tickets are going on sale soon, visit netball.teambath.com/tickets for more information.
You can rewatch all of the Fast5 action again here:
Team Bath Netball is supported by its Principal and Pathway Partner, chartered accountants Haines Watts; Rengen Developments, who are an overall Team Bath Partner; Centurion Chartered Financial Planners and Ecus Ltd, our environment partner. Team Bath’s suppliers include O’Neills, 2XU, Pulseroll and Halo Hydration.
Top picture credit: Taka Wu/Matchroom Multi Sport