Posted 12th Apr 2024

Battle of the Bridge proves hard-fought as Cardiff Dragons take the Super League spoils at Team Bath Netball

Round One of the Battle of the Bridge proved to be a barnstormer but it was Cardiff Dragons who came out on top as they beat Severn rivals Team Bath Netball 52-46 in Friday’s televised Super League match.

A 1,200-strong crowd in the Team Bath Arena and viewers on Sky Sports were treated to a cracking contest which was level after the first quarter and had just two goals in it at half-time.

A strong start to the third quarter by Dragons ultimately proved decisive, giving them a cushion which the hosts weren’t quite able to claw back during a hugely-entertaining final quarter, but there was much to admire about Team Bath’s play, not least in defence where England duo Jayda Pechova and Tash Pavelin excelled.

Asha Francis, Team Bath Netball Head Coach, said: “We didn’t come away with the outcome we wanted but in terms of the performance, the fight and how dynamic we were, that is something we really need to take and make sure we push on. I feel we performed across all four quarters and some of the changes we made showed good impact.

“That’s been our story this season, though, the critical moments that just get away. We had some great turnovers but then a rush of blood to the head where we are throwing ball to people who are clearly covered. It’s learning how to deal with those moments where you really need to make sure you take it through to goal, that you still see all your options. Those are definitely big things we need to work on in the second half of the season.”

Watch the match in full again here:

Team Bath started the match with the seven that finished strongly against Leeds Rhinos last week, which meant starts for overseas duo Lisa Putt and Sloan Burton plus a move to wing-defence for Pavelin.

Tash Pavelin is presented with the Team Bath Fans’ MVP prize by Fran Connolly, CEO of England Netball

They all played key roles in a feisty first quarter that saw Team Bath go 6-2 down early on before working back into the game via tenacious defending from Putt, Pavelin and Pechova, matched by some confident finishing from Burton and Sophie Kelly.

Team Bath levelled midway through the quarter and forged ahead through a trademark Kelly goal from range but Dragons grabbed the last goal to send the teams into the break deadlocked at 13-13.

Legendary Team Bath coaches Anna Stembridge and Jess Thirlby, England Head Coaches past and present respectively, were presented to the crowd during the break after being inducted into the University of Bath Hall of Fame for Sport.

They returned to the seats to see another topsy-turvy start to the second quarter, Dragons rattling off the first three goals and Team Bath responding in kind before the visitors put together a run of five unanswered goals to lead 25-19.

That was the cue for Francis to switch things up, with Emma Barrie coming on at shooter and Burton moving to GA while Putt and Pechova swapped positions. The changes had a huge impact, particularly in defence where Pechova forced four turnovers in the closing stages – getting the crowd and Team Bath bench on their feet – as the hosts closed the gap to 26-24 at half-time.

University of Bath sporting scholar Hannah Passmore came on for Dragons against her former club – as did Laura Rudland in a new-look attacking partnership – and wasted no time in making an impression, scoring five of the first six goals in the third quarter to put the visitors back in the driving seat.

Team Bath Netball captain Bethan Dyke in action against her former club. PICTURES: Mark Harris

The remainder of the quarter was evenly matched, helped by some fantastic finishing from Burton and inspirational defending from Pavelin, but, despite mixing things up with a number of positional changes, Team Bath weren’t quite able to close the gap and trailed 41-36 at the buzzer.

Team Bath threw everything at the game during a hugely-competitive final quarter, with every interception and every goal being greeted by a huge roar from the home fans, and they closed the gap to three with four minutes remaining.

However, Dragons dug deep to see the game out and scored the last three goals of the game to deny Team Bath the consolation of winning the final quarter.

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 Fran Connolly, CEO of England Netball.

Team Bath begin the second half of the season with successive away trips, to London Pulse on Saturday 20th April and Saracens Mavericks on Saturday 27th April, before returning to the Team Bath Arena on Saturday 4th May to face Surrey Storm (centre-pass). Tickets are available 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 Sloan Burton, GA Sophie Kelly, WA Bethan Dyke, C Phoebe Maslen, WD Tash Pavelin, GD Jayda Pechova, GK Lisa Putt. Impact players: Emma Barrie, Lily-May Catling, Kadeen Corbin, Ellie Ervine, Kirsty Harris.

Cardiff Dragons starting combination: GS Georgia Rowe, GA Phillipa Yarranton, WA Khanyisa Chawane, C Elle McDonald, WD Nia Jones, GD Jacqui Newton, GK Leah Middleton. Impact players: Beth Ecuyer-Dale, Lucy Howells, Nansi Kuti, Hannah Passmore, Laura Rudland.

Quarter scores (Team Bath first): Q1 13-13. Q2 24-26 (11-13). Q3 36-41 (12-15). Q4 46-52 (10-11).

Attendance: 1,300.

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

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