BRITISH FAST 5 NETBALL ALL-STARS
Vitality

News

team-bath-wasps-150618-640x387

Blue and Gold “ready to peak at right time”

Anna Stembridge believes that Team Bath Netball are ready to achieve their full potential in the 2018 Vitality Netball Superleague – and is backing her players to do just that when they face Wasps in the semi-finals on Saturday.

The Blue and Gold completed their regular season by going toe to toe with fellow semi-finalists Manchester Thunder in an absorbing encounter, with nothing to separate the teams until the last five minutes when the home side managed to crank up the pressure and secure a 54-47 victory.

Team Bath’s place in the top four was already confirmed, though, following benecosMavericks’ 49-47 defeat at UWS Sirens on Thursday and Superleague Head Coach Stembridge said the performance against Thunder should give her players confidence as they enter the knockout stages.

And she is hoping that the Blue and Gold fans will turn out in force for Saturday’s semi-final against table-topping Wasps (5.45pm centre-pass), which is being played at the University of Worcester Arena.

“The slate is wiped clean now and, as we have seen many times in the past, anything can happen in a semi-final,” said Stembridge.

“We would have liked to go into the game on the back of a win at Thunder but we can certainly take huge positives from the way we performed for 55 minutes of that match against a team that has been in great form in recent weeks.

“We have to do it for 60 minutes but I am really excited because I know that our best performance is still to come and what better time would there be to do it than in the knockout stages?

“We have produced moments of brilliance against all of the top teams in the past couple of weeks and we are more than capable of beating them if we stick to our gameplan and play with confidence and belief.

“My belief in this squad has never wavered and if you want to be the best you have to beat the best. I know we have the ability to do that.

“The fact we are playing the semi-final at Worcester is an amazing opportunity – it is the next closest thing we could get to having a home semi-final as it isn’t too far for our fans to travel. They have been incredible this season and it would be brilliant if they could get behind us again – we’d love to see and hear them there.”

Team Bath have been given an additional boost in the build-up to the semi-final by the return of Jess Shaw, who had been sidelined by an ankle injury since early May.

She was straight back into the thick of the action against Thunder as Mia Ritchie suffered a heavy fall at the start of the second period and had to be withdrawn as a precaution.

“To come on at centre in such a physical, fast-paced match after five weeks out and have the impact that Jess had was absolutely fantastic,” said Stembridge. “It was a real baptism of fire but she dealt with it brilliantly and it’s great to have her back at this critical stage of the season.”

A top-quality Superleague contest saw Team Bath go goal for goal with Thunder before the hosts edged into a 28-24 lead at half-time. They stretched their advantage to eight at one point but the Blue and Gold responded brilliantly and won the second half of the third quarter 10-3 to cut the gap to 38-37 going into the final period.

The visitors then drew level and had a chance to take the lead but the opportunity was missed and Thunder took full advantage.

“It was disappointing how the scoreline blew out like that but it was a brilliant game and great preparation for the Wasps match,” said Stembridge.

The race to reach the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final is heating up – don’t miss out on the season-ending spectacular and get your tickets now!

Anna Stembridge

Anna Stembridge says players will learn from loss

Team Bath Netball Head Coach Anna Stembridge says her players will learn valuable lessons from Friday’s 62-37 home defeat to Vitality Superleague rivals Manchester Thunder.

The visitors got off to a flying start and never looked back as they maintained their 100 per cent record with a convincing victory, underlining their dominance by winning the last quarter 16-8.

Stembridge said: “Credit to Thunder in terms of the way they started and finished the game. It’s disappointing that the scoreline blew out in the final quarter – to lose it 16-8 was not good enough and a bad day in the office in that respect.

“We knew tactically what Thunder would do and we looked to counter that but they executed their game plan very well.

“But we can only grow from this kind of experience. The players are really disappointed but they will learn from this and move forward.”

Both teams went into the match – played in front of a sell-out crowd of 1,600 fans – with confidence high after winning their opening two matches. However, it was the visitors who made the brighter start and they quickly raced into a 5-0 lead.

It was three minutes until Team Bath were able to produce their first attack, finished by Chelsea Lewis, and they remained on the back foot for much of the opening period.

Thunder’s high-tempo approach and slick passing, combined with the unerring shooting of England duo Helen Housby and Natalie Haythornthwaite, saw them establish a commanding 17-6 lead.

Team Bath’s best spell of the period, including a great aerial feed by Rachel Shaw, saw them pull four goals back and Lewis scored right on the buzzer to close the gap to 19-11.

The hosts needed a strong start to the second period but instead it was Thunder who turned the screw with an unanswered run of nine goals, stretching their lead to 29-12.

Lenize Potgieter came off the bench to replace Lewis at GS and quickly found her range, scoring six times as Team Bath gave the vocal home crowd something to cheer.

Asha Francis also scored on the stroke of half-time but Thunder were still firmly in the driving seat as they led 32-20.

With Liana Leota and Sara Bayman providing some outstanding feeds to the attacking duo of Housby and Haythornthwaite, Thunder were able to increase the gap to 36-21.

However, Team Bath were much improved in the third period – both in attack and defence – and were able to provide a more consistent feed to player of the match Potgieter.

The deficit was 44-31 going into the final quarter but any hopes of a Surrey Storm-style comeback were dashed as Thunder pulled away once again to win by 25 goals in a match sponsored by The Royal High School, Bath.

Carter Jonas are Team Bath Netball’s property partner, Surridge are the Team Bath kit supplier and Skins provide the team with compression wear.

Team Bath will be looking to bounce back in front of their home fans on Friday (February 19) when they entertain Team Northumbria (7.45pm).

Ticket-holders for that match will have access to an exclusive coaching masterclass from Team Bath Netball Head Coach Anna Stembridge and Director of Netball Jess Thirlby, taking place from 6-7pm.

Tickets for that game, as well as the other remaining home fixtures, are available from http://www.teambath.com/events/ticketline/ or by calling 0844 888 4412.

Match stats

Team Bath Netball

Starting seven: GS: Chelsea Lewis; GA: Asha Francis; WA: Rachel Shaw; C: Mia Ritchie; WD: Claire Brownie; GD: Karla Mostert; GK: Eboni Beckford-Chambers. Bench: Lenize Potgieter, Amanda Varey, Jo Vann, Alana John, Sarah Penny.

Changes: Q2: Lewis – GS to bench, Potgieter – bench to GS. Q4: Francis – GA to bench, Shaw – WA to GA, Vann – bench to WA, WA to C, Varey – bench to WA, Ritchie – C to bench.

Team Bath Netball Superleague squad 2016: Eboni Beckford-Chambers (C), Samantha Cook, Claire Brownie, Shaunagh Craig, Asha Francis, Nicole Humphrys, Alana John, Chelsea Lewis, Karla Mostert, Sarah Penny, Lenize Potgieter, Mia Ritchie, Rachel Shaw, Amanda Varey, Jo Vann.

Manchester Thunder

Starting seven: GS: Helen Housby; GA: Natalie Haythornthwaite; WA: Liana Leota; C: Sara Bayman; WD: Laura Malcolm; GD: Jodie Gibson; GK: Malysha Kelly. Bench: Ellie Cardwell, Amy Clinton, Emma Dovey, Gabby Marshall, Kathryn Turner.

Changes: Q4: Gibson – GD to bench, Dovey – bench to GD.

Manchester Thunder Superleague squad 2016: Kerry Anne Almond, Sara Bayman (C), Amy Clinton, Ellie Cardwell, Emma Dovey, Jodie Gibson, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Rebecca Hoult, Helen Housby, Malysha Kelly, Paige Kindred, Liana Leota, Laura Malcolm, Gabriella Marshall, Kathryn Turner.

Quarter scores (Team Bath first)

Q1: 11-19. Q2: 20-32 (9-13). Q3: 31-44 (11-12). Q4: 37-62 (6-18).