Posted 8th Mar 2024

Frustrating last quarter but Team Bath Netball can take positives from improved Super League display against impressive London Pulse

Team Bath Netball Head Coach Asha Francis says her players should take the positives from an improved display against an excellent London Pulse outfit in front of another Super League capacity crowd at the Team Bath Arena.

Francis challenged her team to be competitive against the title contenders and they were for three quarters of an entertaining game before a last-quarter surge saw the visitors, who impressed at both ends of the court, race to a 76-43 victory in front of a 1,700-strong crowd.

“If we had stopped after three quarters I would have been really pleased with the performance,” said Francis. “The error rate was lower and overall it was a definitely a step in the right direction after the past two weeks. We made them feel less than comfortable at times and we played well against a quality defensive side.

“It’s just looking at those passages where we have the run of momentum against us and how we stop them sooner. We also have to look at that last quarter and see what happened.”

Defender Tash Pavelin was voted by the fans as winner of Team Bath’s Most Valuable Player Award, sponsored by Results Body+Mind, and received a bouquet, supplied by Flowers of Bath, from Blue & Gold legend Pamela Cookey.

“We put out more of a performance today, particularly defensively,” said Pavelin. “I felt like I was able to win more ball and that was credit to the people around me and the work they were doing. We’ve had three tough games in a row against teams who could all finish in the top four but I think we have shown improvement tonight and hopefully we can build on that in the coming matches.”

Team Bath went into their second of three successive home matches looking for a response to the previous fortnight’s heavy defeats to Loughborough Lightning and Severn Stars, while Pulse arrived with confidence high following their thrilling single-goal win over Lightning last weekend.

Francis changed her starting combination for the first time this season and there was a first home start for Kiwi defender Lisa Putt in the week she was named as Synergy Hair Netball League Player of the Year 2023 in the Netball New Zealand Awards, while Lily-May Catling and Kadeen Corbin also came into the line-up.

The first quarter followed a similar pattern to last week’s home match against Severn Stars, with Team Bath quickly finding themselves 4-1 behind before battling their way back into the game and drawing level at 5-5.

Captain Bethan Dyke on the ball for Team Bath Netball. PICTURES: Fever Pitch

Both teams were looking good in defence but, with Pulse shooter Olivia Tchine in imperious form and fellow England attacker Berri Neal converting all of her shots, the visitors were able to edge into an 18-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter started goal for goal but Pulse gradually upped the pressure and began to move clear. Francis sent on Kirsty Harris and former Pulse defender Jayda Pechova, moving captain Bethan Dyke to centre, and the changes had a good effect as Team Bath finished the quarter strongly.

Pulse made a number of changes for the second half but it made no difference to their momentum as a burst of five goals in a row from Tchine extended their advantage to 44-28 before she was replaced by Nichole Taljaard.

A couple of long-range efforts from Sophie Kelly kept the home crowd in good voice as Team Bath reduced the gap with a mini run of their own but Pulse scored four of the last goals of the quarter to lead 56-36.

An inspired final quarter saw Taljaard and fellow impact player Darcie Everitt excel for the visitors, who quickly rattled off 11 of the first 12 goals. Sloan Burton and Emma Barrie were introduced into the Team Bath attack but it was a tough conclusion to the night as Pulse took the final quarter 20-7 to seal the win.

Team Bath’s run of home fixtures continues next Friday (15th) when they play host to old rivals Saracens Mavericks. Tickets for that match and the six other remaining home games this season are available to buy online at netball.teambath.com/tickets.

Team Bath Netball is supported by Bath Building Society and Rengen Developments, who are both overall Team Bath Partners. Flyhawk supply Team Bath’s performance clothing and off-court apparel.

Match stats

Team Bath Netball starting combination: GS Kadeen Corbin, GA Sophie Kelly, WA Bethan Dyke, C Phoebe Maslen, WD Lily-May Catling, GD Tash Pavelin, GK Lisa Putt. Impact players: Emma Barrie, Sloan Burton, Ellie Ervine, Kirsty Harris, Jayda Pechova.

London Pulse starting combination: GS Olivia Tchine, GA Berri Neil, WA Alicia Scholes, C Jade Clarke, WD Zara Everitt, GD Funmi Fadoju, GK Halimat Adio. Impact players: Darcie Everitt, Brie Grierson, Jeresia McEachrane, Isabella Phillips, Nichole Taljaard.

Quarter scores (Team Bath Netball first): Q1 12-18. Q2 23-37 (11-19). Q3 36-56 (13-19). Q4 43-76 (7-20).

Attendance: 1,750.

Team Bath Fans’ MVP, sponsored by Results Body+Mind: Tash Pavelin.

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