Blue & Gold unable to build on promising first-quarter advantage as local rivals Severn Stars complete Super League double
Team Bath Netball were unable to build on a good first-quarter lead as Severn Stars hit back to complete a 2023 Super League double over their West Country rivals.
The Haines Watts-sponsored Blue & Gold led 17-11 after the first 15 minutes at the Team Bath Arena on Easter Saturday but Stars, marshalled by experienced player-coach Jo Trip, tightened up defensively and turned the game on its head by half-time.
Jayda Pechova, named as Team Bath’s Most Valuable Player, enjoyed an excellent battle with South African goal-shooter Sigi Burger but Stars were able to keep pushing on and had stretched their lead to nine goals by the end of the third quarter before seeing out a 61-51 victory.
Asha Francis, Team Bath Netball Head Coach, said: “I felt like it was one of those days where we just didn’t click or do the fundamentals we set out to do. Even though we were winning after the first 15 minutes I could see it bubbling, we weren’t controlling the pace of the game and Stars didn’t feel as pressured as they should have done being six goals down.
“It felt like an entirely opposite game to last week against Leeds Rhinos but it’s all part of the learning. We’re really good at finding momentum when we’re up but we’re struggling to find it when we’re down, that’s the next piece for us to find.”
Pechova added: “We started really well but we dropped off a bit in the second quarter and that’s what we’ll look at next week in training. I think we need to be more consistent with our performances, we allowed Stars to get a run on us and we couldn’t quite get back from that.”
A tentative start to the game saw possession change hands a number of times thanks to a combination of turnovers and errors but neither team was able to take advantage until midway through the first quarter when Team Bath finally edged a couple of goals clear.
They went on to score five in a row as good defensive pressure from Pechova and Lily-May Catling was converted by Betsy Creak and Kadeen Corbin, who produced some confident finishes from distance as Team Bath took command.
A loose pass allowed Stars to cut the gap to one but Team Bath were looking strong across the court, epitomised by a fantastic take at full-stretch and long-range finish from Corbin, as they stretched their advantage to 17-11.
Sophie Kelly was introduced at goal-attack for the second quarter and made an instant impression, netting the first goal after an athletic interception at the other end of the court from fellow University of Bath sporting scholar Pechova.
Stars also made a switch in defence, with Trip moving to goal-keeper and Jess Haynes coming at goal-defence, and it made a huge impact on the game as they began to crank up the pressure. Hannah Passmore came on at goal-shooter but Team Bath were struggling to feed their attackers and a run of goals at the other end saw the lead wiped out with four minutes of the quarter remaining.
Play became scrappy again and neither team was able to net for the next couple of minutes but Stars finally managed to edge ahead and three quickfire goals from Burger saw them pull away before Kelly netted on the buzzer to cut Team Bath’s half-time deficit to 27-25.
Team Bath switched up their defensive mid-court for the third quarter with Caroline Mtukule coming on at goal-defence, Catling moving to wing-defence and Imogen Allison pushing forward to centre.
However, it was Stars who started on the front foot again and they gradually eked their lead out to eight goals as Team Bath continued to struggle in attack. Corbin made a high-energy return at goal-shooter to fire the crowd up and Pechova produced some more fantastic turnovers during her absorbing battle with Burger but the home side were unable to build any sustained momentum and found themselves trailing 44-35 going into the final quarter.
Summer Artman came on at goal-keeper against her former club for the final 15 minutes and Bethan Dyke returned at centre midway through the quarter but while Team Bath kept battling away, it was Stars who remained on top and a run of seven goals from eight saw them push their lead out to 57-43.
The crowd were still cheering Team Bath all the way, though, and were rewarded with a strong finish from their side as they scored the final five goals to cut the final deficit to 61-51.
The Blue & Gold have two more games left in their run of five successive home fixtures, against title-chasing London Pulse on Friday 14th April and Celtic Dragons on Friday 21st April. Centre-pass for both matches is 7.30pm and tickets are available at netball.teambath.com/tickets.
Team Bath Netball is supported by its Principal and Pathway Partner, chartered accountants Haines Watts; Bath Building Society and Rengen Developments, who are overall Team Bath Partners; Centurion Chartered Financial Planners; Ecus Ltd, our environment partner; and PDS Coaching, who provide performance mentoring. Team Bath’s suppliers include O’Neills and 2XU.
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.
Severn Stars starting combination: GS Sigi Burger, GA Grace Namana, WA Jess Shaw, C Gabby Marshall, WD Rachael Fee, GD Jo Trip, GK Jasmine Brown. Impact players: Jess Haynes, Ruth Hughes, Sarah MacPhail, Lily Smith, Kelsie Taylor.
Quarter-time scores (Team Bath first): Q1 17-11. Q2 25-27 (8-16). Q3 35-44 (10-17). Q4. 51-61 (16-17).
Most Valuable Player: Jayda Pechova.