Team Bath set up Mavericks thriller with derby win
Team Bath slowly warmed to their task and finished with a 50-40 win against local rivals, Severn Stars at the Team Bath Arena in the Vitality Netball Superleague on Saturday.
Victory for the Haines Watts backed Team Bath side came courtesy of a strong second half and some “smarter play” according to coach Anna Stembridge.
“Credit to Stars, they made us work hard in that first half. They were very clinical but in terms of the switches in defense that we were doing, it was coming. We reaped the benefit later on in the match”.
Team Bath, also sponsored by Rengen, were determined to bounce back after a lacklustre defeat to Leeds Rhinos in the league’s Spring Showdown over Easter. Earlier in the season they were narrow away victors over today’s opposition by just four goals.
Stembridge said; “I was really proud of our girls today. We came off a tough loss last week and we had to right those wrongs. We knew it was going to be a tough game, a derby game, there was a lot of passion and pride at stake”.
Player of the Match Layla Guscoth knows that today’s win will stand the Blue and Gold in good stead against Saracens Mavericks on Friday. “It was a tough game today. We knew we had to step up from the last time we played them and keep our hopes for top 4 alive.
“Mavericks beat us twice last season and so we needed a win today to give us confidence for Friday”.
Team Bath today frequently flirted with dominating the first half but time and again were clawed back by tenacious and feisty opponents whose overseas stars – Liana Leota and Cat Tuivati – were breath-taking at times in their creativity just “throwing the ball anywhere and everywhere’ according to Guscoth who also paid tribute to former Team Bath player Paige Reed, goal-attack for Stars. “They were really difficult to contain” she said.
It was a fizzing opening quarter, packed with acrobatics, thrills and spills in equal measure, which saw Stars take an early 4-6 lead before one of three Phumza Maweni defensive intercepts set the home side up to claw back and then lead 8-6 with six minutes to go.
Imogen Allison, played a captain’s quarter at centre, twice diving full length to challenge for the ball. Nothing much separated the two teams in a pacey period until the home side developed an edge in the dying minutes to reach the break 13-11 ahead, helped by some dynamic exchanges between Kim Borger and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis in the Bath shooting circle.
Quarter two started with neither side making any changes. Borger took an early tumble and Team Bath were turned over to bring the score level at 13-13 after four minutes. Team Bath often enjoyed the upper hand in this quarter but a missed opportunity to go 23-17, followed by a couple of rim skimmers and other turn-overs, meant that Stars came back to within a goal at half-time (22-21).
In quarter three, Stars made some defensive changes and subbed Reid off. It was only in the final five minutes of this quarter that the home crowd sensed a shift in momentum in Bath’s favour. This was when the Blue and Gold surged from a 32-29 lead to finish the half 36-30 and then 36-31 at three-quarter time.
In defense Guscoth and Phumza Maweni worked tirelessly for tips and intercepts whilst the mid-court of Kirsty Harris, Tash Pavelin, Imogen Allison grew in confidence and speed of feed.
Jess Shaw carried on in the same mode when she replaced Harris at wing-attack in the final quarter and Borger and Drakeford-Lewis seemed to find more space, more often in the circle. Establishing a decent buffer with seven minutes to go, the home side went on to lockdown the final score at 50-40.
Next up for Team Bath, then, is the re-arranged Covid-postponed clash with Saracens Mavericks this Friday. The match is sold-out and it is a must-win fixture for the Blue and Gold if they are to secure a semi-final spot. The remaining home match will be against Wasps on May 20th. Tickets for this match and the other home fixtures at the Team Bath Arena are on sale now. Visit netball.teambath.com/tickets for more information
Today, the Arena rose to its feet post-match in a standing ovation to pay tribute to Team Bath and England legend Serena Guthrie who recently retired from the sport.
On-court tributes came from current Blue and Gold captain Imogen Allison, England team-mate Layla Guscoth and Team Bath Head Coach Anna Stembridge. Tributes also flooded in from around the world from players and coaches past and present and are available to view on TeamBathTV on You Tube in a video titled: #ThankyouSerena.
Team Bath captain Imogen Allison summed it up when she said: “On behalf of all the players we want to congratulate you on you amazing career, Serena. You are such an amazing team-mate as well. Serena brings passion to the court but off-court she is a friend to everyone here”.
Anna Stembridge added: “Serena is sensational, an angel in disguise. When we talk about Serena we talk about a game-changer not only for Team Bath but her country. She has been part of all the milestones that have changed the international landscape. Serena leaves a legacy and the impact she has had on all of us is immense. The thing that makes me most proud about Serena is her ability to connect with everyone and bring out the best in everyone around her”.
Serena said: Serena: “I think I wasn’t expecting all this. Thank you to my team-mates and thank you to Stars for sticking around, too. It’s been an amazing journey that I’ve had being a part of Team Bath. My first Team Bath memory is as a 14 year-old and I’m now 32 so it’s been a huge part of my life. I am so glad to have the privilege to finish my career at this club. It’s been amazing to be able to share this journey”.
The 2018 Commowealth Games gold medallist had a parting shot for the crowd though: “Don’t you stop supporting the blue and gold and I wish you all the best!”.
Before today’s superleague game two mixed netball teams played a curtain-raiser in a first for the league. Knights, all in white, proved too strong for Hawks, by 55-21.
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.
Team Bath starting 7: GS Kim Borger (c), GA Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, WA Kirsty Harris, C Imogen Allison (capt), WD Tash Pavelin, GD Layla Guscoth, GK Phumza Maweni. Replacements: Lily-May Catling, Jess Shaw, Rachel Shaw, Betsy Creak, Hannah Passmore.
Changes: Q4 J. Shaw – WA, Harris – B.
Severn Stars starting 7: GS Cat Tuivati, GA Paige Reed, WA Liana Leota (capt), C Bethan Dyke, WD Iman Thomas, GD Lucy Herdman, GK Summer Artman. Replacements: Dee Bolakoro, Chloe Charchrie, Issy Eaton, Katie Harris, Nicole Humphreys,
Changes: Q2; Harris- GA, Reed – B; Q3: Herdman – B, Humprheys – WD, Thomas – GD; Q3: Artman – B, Herdman – GK; Q4 Bolakoro – B, Herdman – GK, Artman – GK.
Quarter scores (Team Bath first): Q1 13-11. Q2 9-10 (22-21). Q3 14-10 (36-31). Q4 14-9 (50-40).