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Stars take positives from defeat to Team Bath

Severn Stars 39 48 Team Bath

Director of Netball, Pamela Cookey, said Severn Stars could take “loads of positives” from their performance against Team Bath despite falling to a 39-48 defeat in the Vitality Netball Superleague.

Stars more than matched the visitors in the first half and were good value for their 31-29 lead at the interval.

But after captain Laura Malcolm was withdrawn at half-time following an ankle injury, momentum swung in the favour of the visitors, who stormed ahead to a 13 point third quarter lead from which Stars couldn’t recover.

After a fast-paced opening in the Stars’ second home match at the University of Worcester Arena, Team Bath raced to a 0-3 lead after just two minutes.  But goal shooter Afeisha Noel and goal attack Eleanor Cardwell netted to stem the flow and keep Stars in touch with the visitors.

Stars grew into the game and clever attacking play culminated in Noel finishing to level the score, before netting another goal moments later, to put the hosts ahead for the first time in the match.

A confident Stars continued to push forward and increased their tally with five minutes left in the first quarter when Iona Darroch’s clever inside ball found Cardwell, who netted coolly from under the basket.

Stars continued to dominate and ended the first quarter with a 12-9 advantage thanks largely to the dominance of attacking pair Noel and Cardwell in the final third.

The hosts carried their momentum into the second quarter and Malcolm’s crucial interception and clever pass allowed the unmarked Cardwell to net and push Stars’ lead to five points.

But they couldn’t shake off a stubborn Team Bath side, who continued to chip away at the deficit bringing the score back to 19-18.

Neat interplay between Darroch and Cardwell resulted in the latter netting to give Stars breathing space, and Noel’s double in the final minute of the second quarter gave Stars a well-deserved 23-21 lead at the half-time interval.

Captain Malcolm was withdrawn at half-time after failing to recover from an ankle injury from a collision in the second quarter.  Wing defence Sophie Carter moved to centre and Lauren Brooks came on as wing defence.

The loss of Malcolm seemed to halt Stars’ momentum, and Team Bath took full advantage of the reshuffle to mount a comeback and seize a six point lead midway through the third quarter.

The hosts became increasingly frustrated as the visitors continued to dominate the quarter, building a 13 point lead, at 27-40, from which Stars couldn’t recover.

Head Coach Mo’onia Gerrard’s side battled bravely during the final quarter despite the score line, and outscored their opponents 12-8 courtesy of some clever attacking play, orchestrated by player of the match Darroch.

But it wasn’t enough to prevent the hosts falling to a third defeat of the season, with the final score 39-48.

Stars’ Director of Netball, Pamela Cookey, said: “We played some amazing stuff.  We were in it right until the third quarter, which let us down.  We’re annoyed with that and we’ll look to rectify that.

“We obviously had an injury at half-time and had to make changes, but that’s no excuse.  We need to come out firing after the half-time break.

“But we’re really pleased with how we started and how we ended, winning those quarters, and it just shows how much we’re progressing.

“There’s loads of positives to take.  The girls are building each week, which is good.  The girls definitely showed passion and determination.

“Obviously we’re disappointed with the loss, but we’ve shown we can take them and we’re happy with some of the performances that we’ve put out.”

Tickets for Severn Stars’ next home game against Wasps on March 17 are available at www.severnstars.co.uk.

Image courtesy of Razorlight Imagery