Blue & Gold bidding to secure crown over Jubilee weekend as 2022 Vitality Superleague season reaches exciting conclusion
As the country celebrates one glorious reign this extended holiday weekend, Team Bath Netball will be working hard in an attempt to secure a crown of their own as the 2022 Vitality Superleague season reaches its exciting climax.
The Haines Watts-sponsored Blue & Gold head to Belle Vue on Friday (6.30pm centre-pass) for a Superleague semi-final against a Manchester Thunder side that won all 20 of their matches during the regular season.
The action then moves to London’s Copper Box Arena on Sunday where the victors will meet the winner of Friday’s other semi-final between Loughborough Lightning and London Pulse in the Grand Final (4.15pm). The defeated semi-finalists will meet in the bronze-medal play-off at 2pm.
It is the third successive season that Team Bath have faced Thunder in the semi-finals, with one win apiece so far, and while Thunder are favourites following their perfect league campaign Team Bath Superleague Head Coach Anna Stembridge and her players believe they can upset the form book.
“We wouldn’t be Team Bath if we didn’t have belief in ourselves,” she said. “We are very respectful and aware of the class that Thunder have shown all season, they are a team full of internationals who have played some outstanding netball, but the slate is wiped clean now and anything can happen in semi-finals.
“We have shown at times during the season that we can really compete against the top-level teams, so we can take confidence from that. Whatever happens, I am 100 per cent certain this team will walk off the court knowing they have thrown everything at Thunder and done all they can to produce a performance we can be proud of.
“There have been some cracking semi-finals between Team Bath and Thunder over the years, and I’m expecting this one to be no different. We can’t wait to get out there.”
England and Team Bath star defender Layla Guscoth added: “We’ve got nothing to lose and that’s a nice position to be in. We’re going to the team that’s top of the table and undefeated. The pressure is off but we want to beat Thunder and we have an expectation on ourselves to do our best.”
Team Bath reached their 15th semi-final in 16 seasons by finishing fourth in the 2022 league table, Saturday’s impressive 59-46 win at long-term play-off rivals Saracens Mavericks giving them an eventual nine-point margin over the fifth-placed team.
All 12 members of the match-day squad got some court time during the game and Stembridge said: “Everyone contributed to the overall performance and it was a great opportunity to test different combinations.
“We’ve approached the past two weeks as one big training block towards Finals Weekend and the Mavericks game was a key part of that. Like Belle Vue it is a tough venue to visit, the fans get really behind the home team and Mavs are renowned for their ball speed so it was a good test for what we will face at Thunder, particularly defensively.”
Team Bath are travelling up to Manchester on Thursday evening and will then head straight to London for Grand Final day.
“Thank you to the club and the board for supporting us around the logistics of the weekend,” said Stembridge. “They have definitely allowed us to manage travel and recovery, so we will be prepared to give our best in both games.”