Blue & Gold take positives from hugely-competitive display before London Pulse pull away to go top of Netball Super League table
A tenacious Team Bath Netball performance meant London Pulse had to fight all the way for a win which takes them top of the 2023 Netball Super League table.
The Haines Watts-sponsored Blue & Gold, roared on by another 1,400-strong crowd at the Team Bath Arena, trailed 17-10 at the end of the first period but there was little between the sides during the next two captivating quarters as the hosts went toe-to-toe with their in-form opponents.
Just a couple of goals separated the teams during each of the periods but, as in previous matches against title contenders this season, Team Bath were unable to maintain that level during the final 15 minutes and an impressive Pulse outfit pulled away to win 70-48. Watch the highlights here:
Asha Francis, Team Bath Netball Head Coach, said: “Pulse are a classy side but we really challenged them. I’m really proud of the middle section of the game, the second and third quarters were again impeccable from us and we put them under a lot of pressure, but it takes a lot out of you to relentlessly push and push again so it’s about sustaining that energy for a whole game.”
Imogen Allison, whose all-action display at centre earned her Team Bath’s Most Valuable Player award, added: “Anyone in the team could have won MVP today, everyone worked so hard and it was a really good performance. We went into the match not worrying about where Pulse are but focussing on our own game. No matter what the score was, we were looking at each quarter and we put on a display we can be proud of.”
Malawi Queens captain Caroline Mtukule made her first Super League start for Team Bath, who went goal for goal with Pulse during an evenly-matched opening seven minutes. The visitors – with just one defeat all season – were looking in confident mood, though, and they capitalised fully on a couple of turnovers from England defender Funmi Fadoju to pull clear through six unanswered goals.
The remainder of the quarter was evenly matched as Team Bath doggedly refused to let Pulse extend their advantage and it needed a goal on the buzzer from the clinical Olivia Tchine to increase the gap to 17-10.
Pulse added a couple of quick goals at the start of the second period but Team Bath were looking fired up and gave the 1,400-strong crowd plenty to cheer as they fought for every ball and every rebound while playing some smart, slick attacking netball.
A brilliant interception from Lily-May Catling and finish from Betsy Creak had the crowd in full voice and, with Summer Artman and Kirsty Harris making big impacts off the bench at goal-keeper and wing-attack respectively, Team Bath ensured it was a hugely-competitive quarter. Tchine again scored on the buzzer but Pulse only edged the quarter 18-16, meaning their half-time advantage was 35-26.
The third quarter followed a similar pattern, with the visitors grabbing two early goals before Team Bath fought back strongly to cut the deficit to eight. Harris found Creak with some fantastic feeds as Team Bath again went goal for goal with their opponents and Pulse were forced to make some changes of their own to shake things up.
That prompted a run of five unanswered goals from the visitors but Team Bath responded brilliantly in the closing stages to ensure there were again just two goals between the sides during a highly-entertaining quarter, Pulse taking it 16-14.
The fourth quarter proved to be more one-sided as Pulse pulled clear of a tiring home side, with Tchine despatching nine of the first 11 goals to set the tone. Team Bath were still battling defensively and turning over possession but they were struggling in attack as the classy visitors finished the match with a flourish.
Team Bath conclude their run of five consecutive home fixtures when they entertain Welsh club Celtic Dragons on Friday 21st April. Centre-pass is 7.30pm and remaining tickets are available to purchase by clicking here.
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 Netball starting combination: GS Betsy Creak, GA Kadeen Corbin, WA Ali Wilshier, C Imogen Allison, WD Lily-May Catling, GD Caroline Mtukule, GK Jayda Pechova. Impact players: Summer Artman, Bethan Dyke, Kirsty Harris, Sophie Kelly, Hannah Passmore.
London Pulse starting combination: GS Olivia Tchine, GA Berri Neil, WA Chelsea Pitman, C Jade Clarke, WD Zara Everitt, GD Funmi Fadoju, GK Halimat Adio. Impact players: Ashleigh Dekker, Freya Henshall, Lindsay Keable, Sacha McDonald, Ellie Rattu.
Quarter-time scores (Team Bath first): Q1 10-17. Q2 26-35 (16-18). Q3 40-51 (14-16). Q4 48-70 (8-19).
Most Valuable Player: Imogen Allison.