Posted 24th Mar 2023

Team Bath denied by Saracens Mavericks’ late push but first four-quarter performance provides plenty to build on during home run

A frustrating finish saw Team Bath Netball lead Saracens Mavericks for nearly 50 minutes before their opponents made a late push to secure a 66-62 victory in the first of five successive Super League matches at the Team Bath Arena.

The Blue & Gold, sponsored by Haines Watts, treated a 1,300-strong home crowd to some excellent netball and were good value for their 35-31 lead at half-time.

Mavericks, inspired by a Most Valuable Player performance from wing-defence Aliyah Zaranyika, fought back strongly during an absorbing second half but Team Bath battled fiercely to hold the visitors at bay until five minutes from time when they finally edged ahead again for the first time since the eighth minute of the match.

They went on to see out the victory but Team Bath Head Coach Asha Francis says there was plenty for her squad to take from the performance.

Watch the game in full here:

“It was frustrating in the sense that it was a lead that got away but that was our first four-quarter performance of the season and it was only tiny margins that went against us,” she said. “We competed for the whole game, we didn’t crumble and we didn’t give up.

“Mavericks really came at us in the second half and in previous games we might have seen people go into their silos but we really came together tonight. We are learning and developing week on week and now it’s an opportunity to see what we can do when host Leeds Rhinos next Friday.”

The players were welcomed onto court by flags of their nations during the Super League’s ‘Show Your International Colours’ weekend. PICTURES: Charlotte Clark.

A nervy start to the game by Team Bath saw Mavericks force four early turnovers but strong defending from Jayda Pechova and captain Lily-May Catling meant they were only able to convert one of them.

The visitors held a narrow advantage until midway through the quarter when Kadeen Corbin intercepted a loose pass and exchanged passes with Ali Wilshier before feeding Betsy Creak to level the scores at 9-9.

Captain Lily-May Catling in front of another big crowd at the Team Bath Arena

That fired up the home players and fans, switching the momentum firmly in Team Bath’s favour and they went on to score six of the next seven goals as – unlike their opponents earlier – they capitalised fully on their turnovers.

Team Bath were fizzing the ball around with growing confidence and a Creak goal on the buzzer ensured they went into the break with a 19-14 lead.

The second quarter started goal for goal before a flying tip from Imogen Allison allowed Team Bath to stretch their advantage. They moved eight goals clear at one stage but the introduction of Christina Shaw to the Mavericks defence, plus errors from the home side, saw the visitors enjoy their best spell of the game.

They went on to score nine of the next 11 goals to close the gap to 32-31 and had the chance to draw level but a fantastic intercept from Pechova ensured that didn’t happen and, with Catling also forcing a Mavericks overthrow, Team Bath were able to score the last three goals of the quarter to lead 35-31 at half-time.

Team Bath switched things up for the third quarter, with Malawi captain Caroline Mtukule coming on at goal-defence while Catling and Allison moved to wing-defence and centre respectively, and they started strongly by quickly extending their advantage to 38-32.

Back came Mavericks and they cut the gap to two, which it remained at for the next 10 minutes as the teams traded goals. Turnovers were proving scarce but the visitors finally forced one with two minutes to go and had another opportunity to draw level.

However, as in the second period, tenacious defending – this time in the form of a Catling flying tip – meant they couldn’t take it but the game was right back in the balance with Team Bath’s lead being cut to 52-50 going into the final quarter.

Imogen Allison and Mavericks’ Christina Shaw collide during a hard-fought Super League encounter

An error-strewn start to the last period by Team Bath saw that advantage quickly wiped out but they again prevented Mavericks taking the lead during a tense period in which the two teams went goal for goal before a brave piece of play from Allison inspired a quickfire burst of three goals for the hosts.

The lead was 60-57 but Mavericks were not going away and they once again fought back to level before, with just less than five minutes on the clock, they were finally able to edge ahead for the first time since midway through the opening period.

Team Bath looked to respond but conceded possession as they tried to force the play and Mavericks took full advantage to complete their comeback and see out a hard-earned win.

The next match in Team Bath’s home run takes place on Friday 31st March when they entertain Leeds Rhinos. Centre-pass is 7.30pm and tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

Team Bath Netball is supported by its Principal and Pathway Partner, chartered accountants Haines WattsBath Building Society and Rengen Developments, who are overall Team Bath Partners; Centurion Chartered Financial PlannersEcus Ltd, our environment partner; and PDS Coaching, who provide performance mentoring. Team Bath’s suppliers include O’Neills2XU and Pulseroll.

Match stats

Team Bath starting combination: GS Betsy Creak, GA Kadeen Corbin, WA Ali Wilshier, C Bethan Dyke, WD Imogen Allison, GD Lily-May Catling, GK Jayda Pechova. Impact players: Summer Artman, Caroline Mtukule, Kirsty Harris, Sophie Kelly, Hannah Passmore.

Saracens Mavericks starting combination: GS Ine-Mari Venter, GA Kira Rothwell, WA Sasha Corbin, C Lisa Mather, WD Aliyah Zaranyika, GD Monique Meyer, GK Jodie Gibson. Impact players: Britney Clarke, Beth Ecuyer-Dale, Ellie Kelk, Georgia Lees, Christina Shaw.

Quarter scores (Team Bath first): Q1 19-14. Q2 35-31 (16-17). Q3 52-50 (17-19). Q4 62-66 (10-16).

Most Valuable Player: Aliyah Zaranyika.

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