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Stars set sights on fifth consecutive home win

Severn Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, is hoping her team can make it five wins in a row at home in their last game of the season.

Stars’ recent positive form has seen them win four home games in a row, including the largest winning margin in the club’s history last weekend against Team Northumbria.

Now Bird is keen to see a fifth against Celtic Dragons at the University of Worcester Arena on Monday (June 25, 7.30pm), to close out the season on a positive note for their fans.

“We are really keen to obviously give our fans a great performance in our last home game,” she said. “We love playing at home. We like to be able to prepare and we’re really looking forward to it. It’s really important that we go out and perform how we can to just round everything up. It’s the last chance for the players to play this season and will be an emotional day for me as I’m so proud of how far the squad has come.

“Our fans have been fantastic this season, sticking with the team despite some tough losses earlier in the campaign, and it is great that we have been able to repay their loyalty and enthusiasm with some winning performances as the season draws to a close.”

Last Saturday (June 16) saw the team defeat Team Northumbria by 30 goals, 63-33.  Bird said she believed such a result showed the team’s progress over the course of the season.

“For us we could do with a couple more fixtures really and I think we’d be up there challenging,” she said. “Not even teams at the top are necessarily winning by these massive margins. It shows where we want to be and how to push on for next year.”

Bird added that, despite their winning form, Stars were prepared for a tough test against Welsh side Dragons.

“Dragons are a competitive and physical team,” she said. “They are truly passionate and are always a determined and challenging team to compete with.”

Image credit: Lindsey Dowthwaite Photography


Wasps Netball looking to draw on their experience

Wasps Netball veteran star Rachel Dunn says the team will draw on their experience as they aim to return to winning ways.

The table-toppers will look to bounce back from back-to-back Vitality Netball Superleague defeats with a win against Celtic Dragons on Saturday, June 9, in Cardiff (4pm centre-pass).

Dunn has been ever-present this year alongside George Fisher in attack – but goals have been harder to come by in the last two fixtures, with Wasps scoring nearly 20 below their season average.

The 35-year-old – who made her league debut in 2003 – has won three successive Superleague titles and knows the importance of closing the regular season with winning momentum.

“We haven’t been scoring enough goals. It’s important we remember what we did well at the start of the season and get the momentum back,” she said.

“You don’t suddenly become a bad team overnight. We don’t need to revolutionise everything. Focusing on fixing the small things can make a big difference.

“We’re not happy with how we have performed in these last two games but hopefully it is just a blip.

“We’re not doing the basics well enough. The two losses have been learning games and we need to put things right.

“Our experience will really help now. We’ve got a lot of players who have won leagues before and hopefully we can draw on our experience to put in the performances we need to get back on track.”

Wasps are locked at the top of the Superleague with Loughborough Lightning, with one game in hand over their Midlands-rivals.

Their hosts are bottom of the table and were soundly beat at the Ricoh Arena earlier this season 74-32 – but Dunn says Dragons shouldn’t be underestimated.

“You can’t underestimate any team and there have been plenty of shocks this season,” she added.

“Dragons might not be sitting near the top of the table but it will still be a challenge. We’ve got to go out there and perform.

“There aren’t many teams in any sport that can go unbeaten for a whole season, you have to put it in perspective.

“The way we started the season shows the talent we have in this group but netball is not about individuals it is how you work together as a team.

“We have a few tough games coming up but that’s what you want. You want to be tested and that’s what we need to be at the top of our game and peak at the right time.”

Wasps’ next home fixture sees them face benecosMavericks on Monday, June 18 (7.00pm centre-pass) and tickets are available for

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!


Dragons slain by impressive Northumbria

Team Northumbria slayed Celtic Dragons with a convincing 58-47 victory at Northumbria University on Saturday night to make it two wins in two over Wales’ premier franchise.

Ash Neal won the battle of the Superleague siblings against sister Kyra Jones – owning the centre court in a vital game at the bottom of the Vitality Netball Superleague.

Dragons are the lowest scoring team in the league but the visitors got off to a good start – scoring straight from the centre pass to state an early intent.

A close contest ensued with both teams ruthless underneath the net and relentless in attack.

This led to a one-point lead in the first quarter in the favour of the Tynesiders, who looked full of confidence with the prospect of opening up a three-point gap at the bottom with a win.

Dragons initiated the scoring again in the second quarter but a fast-paced display of netball seemed to work in TN’s favour as Hayley Mulheron and Lauren Ngwira mopped up with the interceptions.

The North East team went on to dominate the next few minutes, letting loose with a fantastic offensive display – TN’s New Zealand duo Chiara Semple and Tamsin Moala linking up brilliantly to create a nine-point lead in a matter of minutes.

TeAroha Keenan’s side went into the break 30-23 ahead – setting the team up to push on in the second half.

The pace seemed to slow down in the penultimate quarter and Julie Hornweg’s half time talk clearly had an affect on the Dragons’ style of play as they descended upon the TN goal.

Consistency was the gateway to a comeback and Dragons certainly looked as if they had found the key with sharp shooting from former TN favourite Georgia Rowe.

But they met their match against a resilient TN side who equalled the Cardiff club in all areas and saw the quarter out 43-33.

An inspired TN team went full throttle in the final quarter, scoring 15 points on their way to their third win of 2018 in front of the Sport Central faithful.

With just three games remaining of the regular season, TN now have a chance to improve on last year’s ninth place with the Dragons win putting them level on points with UWS Sirens and hot on the heels of Surrey Storm.

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!

Tuaine Keenan

Northumbria go out on a high

Team Northumbria beat Celtic Dragons by their largest winning margin of the season on Saturday.

Northumbria Goal Keeper Tuaine Keenan has impressed this season and has said she already can’t wait for the 2017 season.

Read the Northumbria match report below:

Player of the season Tuaine Keenan is committed to the job she started after revealing next season can’t come soon enough.

The no-nonsense defender has forged a formidable partnership with England call-up Leah Kennedy for Team Northumbria this season.

And the pair put in a typically robust shift to see off Celtic Dragons in the club’s final Netball Superleague clash of the season.

The hosts bagged their biggest win of the year with a 60-47 demolition of the Dragons and Keenan said: “We’ve really come together in the last few weeks.

“Four wins this season isn’t the best record and we’re frustrated we didn’t reach our target of six.

“But the results don’t tell the real story.

“We’ve all learnt a huge amount about ourselves and each other and we’ve grown together.

“That’s why I want to come back next season and maintain that progression.

“We needed time to gel as a group because there’s so much diversity within our squad.

“But now we’ve done that there’s no telling what we could achieve next season.”

It remains to be seen whether head coach TeAroha Keenan will keep the core of her NSL roster together ahead of the 2017 campaign.

But the current squad’s potential was there for all to see against a Dragons side that won the corresponding fixture by eight goals in Cardiff.

“That was a poor performance and we have struggled with the travel and the schedule at times,” added Tuaine Keenan.

“I think that has something to do with the fact that we’re a young and inexperienced squad.

“At the start of the season it was unlike anything a lot of the players were used to but we’ve learnt what we need to do.

“It was important we signed off the season in style and on a personal note I still can’t believe that the fans decided I was their player of the season.

“After just one season here it means so much. I’m on a five-year visa here and I have every intention of coming back next season!”

TN had opened up a three-goal lead against the Dragons at half-time but stepped up a gear after the break.

Coach Keenan stuck with the same seven players for the final three quarters and that consistency paid off.

Kennedy reclaimed the captain’s armband and responded to the extra responsibility in style – celebrating last week’s England call-up with her best display of the season.

And once again rookie shooter Chiara Semple showed just why she has been identified as one of the rising stars of Superleague.

Dragons had no answer to TN’s quality across the court with Rebecca Neil a deserved winner of the player of the match award.