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Tuaine Keenan

Northumbria pick up first three points

Team Northumbria have picked up their first three points of the 2016 Vitality Netball Superleague season.

In front of a home crowd, and the Sky Sports cameras, Te Aroha Keenan’s side beat Yorkshire Jets 48-44.

Read on for the Northumbria match report:

Team Northumbria snapped a four-game losing streak to climb off the bottom of the Netball Superleague and kickstart their season in style.

Te Aroha Keenan guided her previously winless roster to a 48-44 victory against fellow strugglers Yorkshire Jets.

And it was the visitors who remained rooted to the Superleague basement following a fixture neither team could afford to lose.

TN recovered from a shaky start to stamp their authority on a tight clash in front of the Sky Sports cameras at Northumbria University’s Sport Central.

And a welcome victory should have been more convincing on the back of a dominant final quarter.

Lynsey Armitage was restored to the starting seven and her attacking partnership with Chiara Semple caused the Jets problems from the start.

But the battling visitors needed the win as much as their hosts and no quarter was asked or given during a tense opening period.

Shanice Beckford became the fourth TN player to wear the centre’s dress this season with fellow Jamaican Nicole Dixon named on the bench.

But Keenan’s latest attempt at solving her side’s problem position never felt like the perfect answer.

The Jets made the most of TN’s hesitancy through the middle of the court to establish a four-goal lead with six minutes of the first half to play.

But the home side fought back with veteran Armitage scoring four of her side’s last five goals of the second period.

TN took a 25-23 lead into the second half but Semple failed to reappear – the prolific Kiwi sporting heavy strapping and an ice pack on her left knee.

That forced a significant tactical switch with Dixon handed her first minutes since picking up an ankle knock against Mavericks earlier this month.

The feisty West Indian lined up at centre with Beckford moving to goal attack.

And the enforced change sparked TN’s best period of the game as Armitage gratefully received a string of pinpoint passes from her new attacking partner.

Keenan’s side pulled clear midway through the third period and fully deserved their 37-33 lead with 15 minutes to play.

Semple shook off her first half strain to partner Armitage in the final quarter with Beckford pushed back to wing attack.

But Keenan kept faith with daughter Tuaine and Leah Kennedy in defence with the young duo growing in stature as the game wore on.

And the relief inside Sport Central was palpable as the hosts finally put points on the Superleague board and celebrated a hugely significant win.

Vitality Player of the Match: Tuaine Keenan