Blue & Gold looking to build on Sirens success during crunch Superleague double-header against Surrey Storm and London Pulse
Team Bath Netball are looking to build on their most consistent performance of the 2022 Vitality Superleague season to date as they head into a big double-header weekend against two fellow top-four contenders.
After a first half of the season hit by illness and injury, the Haines Watts-sponsored Blue & Gold had all 12 of their Superleague squad available for the first time when they flew to Scotland last weekend to face Strathclyde Sirens.
They went on to produce a hugely-encouraging team display, winning all four quarters on their way to a 57-40 victory that provides a good springboard into this weekend’s fixtures against Surrey Storm (away, Friday 8th) and London Pulse (home, Monday 11th). Both start at 7.30pm.
Storm are currently fifth, three points above Team Bath, while Pulse are another three points ahead of them in third and Anna Stembridge, the Blue & Gold’s Superleague Head Coach, acknowledges they are crunch fixtures.
“Every game really does matter and what an exciting position the league is in,” she said. “There are a number of teams who are there or thereabouts and with a couple of wins you can flip from sixth to third.
“We know both Storm and Pulse are gunning for the top four but you don’t want easy games, you want to be challenging yourself all the time.”
Team Bath suffered narrow four-goal defeats in both reverse fixtures and Stembridge said: “The girls are really excited for this weekend because they want to right some of those wrongs from earlier in the season.
“We weren’t at full strength last time we played Storm, so it will be really good to see how we go against them this time round. We played some great stuff at home but had a dip in the third quarter, so first and foremost we have to be more consistent. We saw that against Sirens last weekend and I’m hoping we’ll continue to build on that.
“I said pre-season that Pulse would be the dark horses this year with so many exciting young England players in their squad. It was a really exciting, close game when we met them on the opening weekend but we definitely weren’t at our best and didn’t play smart enough against their defensive structure.
“We’re excited to be taking them on this time round in front of our home fans, who have really got behind us this season and given us that energy.”
Stembridge said there was “a real buzz” amongst the playing squad before and after last week’s win at Sirens. Team Bath, who are also backed by Rengen, were looking for a strong performance after the frustration of recent weeks and quickly stamped their authority on what has traditionally been a tricky away fixture, taking the first quarter 16-10.
There was no let-up intensity as the visitors stretched their lead to 31-21 at the interval before another 16-10 scoreline in the third quarter put the game out of reach.
That allowed Team Bath to make changes in the final quarter as all 12 of the travelling players enjoyed court time, including a first appearance of the season for University of Bath sporting scholar Hannah Passmore on her return from injury.
“It was brilliant to have Hannah back, she is such a great character and has wonderful energy,” said Stembridge.
“There was a real buzz of excitement going into the weekend but also a sense that we had a job to do. The defensive shift from everyone really put Sirens under pressure and meant we were able to flood the attack with opportunities.
“One of the things I was really impressed with was our attacking decisions and the way we moved the ball through the court to goal. We were smarter with the way we played and made sure we were more clinical, more ruthless.”
The Storm game is being live-streamed on YouTube by Sky Sports, here is the link: