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TeAroha Keenan

Keenan wants to come back stronger

Team Northumbria will go into Round 5 of the Vitality Netball Superleague with no wins from their first four games.

You can find the Northumbria match report from their 58-28 defeat at the hands of Team Bath here:

Te Aroha Keenan insisted the next generation of Team Northumbria stars will come back stronger after another tough examination of their top flight credentials in Bath last night.

There is no time for the Sport Central club to dwell on a 58-28 defeat in the South West – with Yorkshire Jets due on Tyneside in two days’ time.

And Keenan heads into a must-win clash confident her youngest players are picking up the court time and experience required to kickstart a disappointing season to date.

TN’s starting seven at Bath boasted an average age of less than 20 with both Brie Grierson and Jaydene Robinson handed key roles from the centre pass.

“We lost the first quarter by a single goal and to see so much young talent out on court is exciting for the future,” said Keenan.

“At 22 and 23 Leah Kennedy and Tuaine [Keenan] were the oldest players on court and I was very proud of what that group achieved.

“But I suppose Bath’s physicality and experience told in the second half. For the first time this season I thought the team looked a little lost after the break and that was disappointing.

“We will regroup and get ready for the Jets knowing we’re at home and we have the benefit of a partisan Sport Central crowd.”

TN trailed 10-9 after the opening period in Bath and led early on in the second quarter.

Missing injured centre Nicole Dixon, Keenan started with four teenagers against the star-studded hosts.

And for 20 minutes TN looked capable of springing a surprise against one of this season’s top four contenders.

Shanice Beckford and Chiara Semple formed an all-new attacking line-up with veteran shooter Lynsey Armitage held back until the second half.

And Keenan felt a 27-15 half-time deficit failed to do her battling side justice.

“The scoreline doesn’t really tell the story of the first half,” she added. “I set my players some pretty lofty targets and many of them came off court happy with what they’d achieved.

“We flew out of the blocks but Bath slowly turned the screw in defence and did a very good job of limiting our attacking threat.”

The hosts dominated the second half to close out a convincing victory but Keenan insists a 0-4 record will not prey on the minds of her young squad come Monday night’s clash with the Jets.

“People say it’s a game we can win but it’s about how we perform on the night,” she added. “What we need to do after what is a long drive back to the North East is get ourselves back into play mode.

“This weekend’s schedule is a challenge in itself but we can’t wait to get back to Sport Central and play on front of our own fans again.”

Monday’s live Sky Sports clash gets underway from 7.45pm and tickets are on sale from the venue’s reception or by visiting the Team Northumbria Netball Superleague page on nusportcentral.com