Posted 5th Apr 2024

Strong second-half showing provides positives in defeat for battling Blue & Gold against Leeds Rhinos

A strong second-half performance gave Team Bath Netball plenty of positives to build on despite slipping to a Super League home defeat against Leeds Rhinos.

The visitors flew out of the blocks and led 10-3 after five minutes before stretching their lead to 39-24 at half-time. However, cheered on by a 1,300-strong crowd at the Team Bath Arena, the Blue & Gold kept battling and were much improved right across the court during the third and fourth quarters, with Rhinos only able to add one more goal to the margin of victory as they won 67-51.

Asha Francis, Team Bath Netball Head Coach, said: “The second half was great and I do think today was a step forward in the sense that the game had already blown out but we didn’t allow that to go any further, which we would have done in previous games.

Former Team Bath star Geva Mentor closes down Sloan Burton. PICTURES: Mark Harris

“The first half was error-ridden and again it was down to our decision making. We are a young side and you can see that lack of experience when the errors come in. It is frustrating but we’ve got to learn how to win and how to put those four quarters together.”

Rhinos went into the match one place and three points above Team Bath in the table but they have been in improved form of late and showed that form during a dominant first quarter.

Vastly-experienced shooter Joyce Mvula was in ruthless form as Rhinos punished some early errors from the hosts to race into a 10-3 lead inside five minutes. Team Bath tried to work their way back into the game, with Sloan Burton being introduced at shooter and Kadeen Corbin moving to wing-attack in a bid to shake things up, but Rhinos led 21-13 at the buzzer.

Captain Bethan Dyke on the ball for Team Bath

The gap remained at eight during a scrappy start to the second period before Rhinos once again seized control, supplying a constant stream of ball to Mvula who shrugged off dogged defensive pressure to rattle off 11 of the next 13 goals.

Team Bath made a number of positional changes in defence and attack, with Lisa Putt coming on at goal-keeper to good effect, and they did manage to close the gap but Mvula scored the last two goals of the quarter to send Rhinos into half-time with a 39-24 lead.

Jayda Pechova receives her Fans’ MVP prize from Liz Bloor

The third quarter was much more closely contested as Putt and Jayda Pechova disrupted the Rhinos attack with a number of turnovers and interceptions to bring the crowd into the game. Burton and Sophie Kelly also found their range at the other end and only a Mvula goal on the buzzer prevented the quarter from being deadlocked, Rhinos edging it 13-12 to stretch their advantage to 52-36.

It remained tightly contested in the fourth quarter as Team Bath upped their game right across the court and the quarter finished level at 15-15, meaning Rhinos – whose captain Geva Mentor, a Team Bath inaugural Super League champion in 2006, received a fantastic ovation from the home fans – took the win 67-51.

Pechova 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 Liz Bloor, CEO of the Netball Players Association.

Team Bath are back at home next Friday (12th) when they take on Cardiff Dragons in the Battle of the Bridge (centre-pass 7.30pm). The match will be preceded by a University of Bath Hall of Fame for Sport induction of former Team Bath Head Coaches Jess Thirlby and Anna Stembridge. Tickets for that match and the other remaining home fixtures are available to purchase 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 starting combination: GS Kadeen Corbin, GA Sophie Kelly, WA Bethan Dyke, C Phoebe Maslen, WD Lily-May Catling, GD Tash Pavelin, GK Jayda Pechova. Impact players: Emma Barrie, Sloan Burton, Ellie Ervine, Lily Jones, Lisa Putt.

Leeds Rhinos starting combination: GS Joyce Mvula, GA Emma Magee, WA Amelia Hall, C Caroline O’Hanlon, WD Cassie Howard, GD Zoe Davies, GK Geva Mentor. Impact players: Amy Braithwaite, Celyn Emanuel, Harriet Jones, Sarah MacPhail, Michelle Magee.

Quarter scores (Team Bath first): Q1 13-21. Q2 24-39 (11-18). Q3 36-52 (12-13). Q4 51-67 (15-15).

Attendance: 1,300.

Team Bath Fans’ MVP, sponsored by Results Body+Mind: Jayda Pechova.

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