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Vote for Sky Sports Vitality Superleague Player of the Season

The shortlist is in for the Sky Sports Vitality Netball Superleague Player of the Season and Sky Netball have whittled it down to five of the league’s shining stars.

Loughborough Lightning’s Ama Agbeze, Manchester Thunder’s Sara Bayman, Team Bath’s Karla Mostert, Surrey Storm’s Sophia Candappa and Hertfordshire Mavericks’ Sammy Wallace are all up for the prize.

You can vote for your Player of the Season on the Sky Sports website here: http://www.skysports.com/netball/news/12415/10248613/vote-for-sky-sports-vitality-superleague-player-of-the-season

Karla Mostert

Bath record convincing win over Lightning

Team Bath played host to Loughborough Lightning in a hotly anticipated Vitality Netball Superleague clash on Friday 4th March.

Bath grew into the game, making themselves a dominant force and finishing the match 60-44 winners.

Read the Team Bath match report below:

Team Bath Netball moved level on points with Manchester Thunder and Hertfordshire Mavericks at the top of the Vitality Netball Superleague table with a convincing 60-44 win over fellow play-off contenders Loughborough Lightning on Friday.

As snow fell outside the University of Bath Sports Training Village, Team Bath turned up the heat inside it with a confident performance thoroughly enjoyed by another capacity crowd.

The result leaves Team Bath six points clear of fifth-placed Lightning at the midway point of the season but while Head Coach Anna Stembridge was pleased with the win and the performance, she knows there is still a lot of work ahead.

“I was asked before the game whether I though it was a must-win match but, as far as I’m concerned, every game is must-win,” she said.

“The first half of the season is over and we are well placed but we cannot rest on our laurels.

“Consistency was the key for us tonight. We knew Lightning were a force to be reckoned with and we did not underestimate them. We played smart, disciplined netball and looked a lot more connected in defence.

“We started well, as we did against Mavericks on Monday, but unlike then we built through the game. Lightning came back at us in the first quarter – it was a really well contested game throughout – but we were still up at the end of it and we went on to win all four quarters, which was pleasing.”

After their home defeat to Mavericks on Monday, Team Bath were looking for a positive start to this match and they got it as Rachel Shaw and Lenize Potgieter quickly fired them into a 3-0 lead.

A couple of mistakes allowed Lightning to level at 4-4 but Team Bath – roared on by a 1,600-strong crowd – were on the front foot and quickly regained a four-goal advantage.

Some sparkling link-up play in mid-court from Mia Ritchie, Jo Vann and Shaw ensured the chances kept coming and Team Bath found themselves with a 13-7 lead before Lightning hit back to close the deficit to 15-13 at the end of a pulsating first quarter.

The second period, by contrast, was a slow burner as just four goals were scored in a scrappy opening five minutes. Two of them were scored by Shaw, who then began to find the net with unerring accuracy as Team Bath clicked back into gear.

One nerveless finish from Shaw had the home bench and fans roaring with delight as Team Bath began to turn the screw, stretching their lead to ten points.

Some fantastic defensive pressure restricted Lightning’s chances at the other end and the home side held a commanding 29-20 advantage at half-time.

Lightning made wholesale changes to their team for the third period, with just shooter Peace Proscovia and wing-attack Hannah Joseph remaining in their starting positions.

It looked like having a positive effect when they pulled three quickfire goals back but Team Bath were soon back in the driving seat, with the ruthless Potgieter hardly missing a shot.

At the other end, her fellow South African Karla Mostert was having an outstanding game in defence alongside Eboni Beckford-Chambers as Team Bath won the period 18-13.

Lightning made four made changes for the final period, with former Team Bath shooter Kadeen Corbin coming off the bench to remind the home crowd of her fine finishing.

But the result was never in question and a Team Bath side that remained unchanged throughout comfortably saw out a 60-44 victory.

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

Next up for Team Bath is a trip to defending champions Surrey Storm on Saturday, March 12 before they return to the Sports Training Village on Friday, March 18 to face a Yorkshire Jets side captained by Stacey Francis.

Tickets are available for that game, and the Easter Monday home match against Celtic Dragons, by visiting www.teambath.com/events/ticketline or calling 0844 888 4412.

Team Bath's Jazz Scott and Surrey Storm's Sophia Candappa

Bath back to winning ways

Team Bath quickly got back to winning form in comfortable fashion last night in their 30-goal win over Team Northumbria.

Head Coach Anna Stembridge was impressed with her side’s performance as we hear from Bath below:

Team Bath Netball got back to winning ways in style on Friday as they recorded a 58-28 home victory over Team Northumbria in the 2016 Vitality Netball Superleague.

Another four-figure crowd at the Team Bath Arena saw the home team put last week’s defeat to Manchester Thunder behind them with a performance that grew in confidence and quality as the match progressed.

Head Coach Anna Stembridge said: “It was a really good response. We were a lot more clinical in attack and we worked hard in defence to secure plenty of turnovers.

“We didn’t start well against Thunder last week but we put that right tonight. It was also good to see us build quarter by quarter.”

With Asha Francis resting a back injury, Rachel Shaw and Mia Ritchie moved into goal-attack and wing-attack respectively. That meant a first Superleague start in five years for Jo Vann at centre, while Samantha Cook and Shaunagh Craig were in the match-day 12 for the first time this season.

Team Bath were looking for a positive start after last week’s disappointment and they got it as Shaw and goal-shooter Lenize Potgieter quickly fired the hosts into a 6-2 lead.

However, a scrappy period of play saw Team Bath struggle to make the most of their possession, allowing Team Northumbria to hit back with four unanswered goals from Tuaine Keenan.

The visitors cancelled out Team Bath’s next couple of goals as well and Shanice Beckford missed a chance to put Northumbria ahead before two efforts in quick succession from Potgieter gave the hosts a narrow 10-9 lead going into the second period.

A slow start after the break allowed the visitors to go ahead for the first and only time but, with Vann and player of the match Ritchie growing increasingly influential after swapping positions, Team Bath finally clicked back into gear.

“I thought Jo was outstanding,” said Stembridge. “I also thought we had some excellent leadership on court, not only from our captain [Eboni Beckford-Chamber] but Jo and Claire Brownie as well.”

Some slick attacking and strong defensive interceptions, particularly from Brownie and Karla Mostert, helped Team Bath take control of the game as they moved from 12-11 down to 19-13 up.

With Potgieter settling into a good shooting rhythm, the hosts were able to increase their half-time advantage to 27-15.

Chelsea Lewis was introduced for Potgieter for the third period and immediately struck up a good rapport with Vann and Shaw, scoring three times in quick succession.

A heavy fall could not stop Lewis as the Welsh international continued to regularly find the net, helping to grow the lead to 44-23.

Lewis’s tumble was one of several by players from both teams in a physical encounter, with Northumbria replacement shooter Lynsey Armitage even losing a contact lens in one tussle with Eboni Beckford-Chambers.

With the game won, Team Bath took the opportunity to give Cook her first run-out of the season after injury and the England defender slotted back in seamlessly, with every interception receiving a huge cheer from the 1,200-strong crowd.

“It was great to see Sam back out there,” Stembridge said.

Alana John and Amanda Varey also came on to make good contributions to a fine victory, with the 30-goal winning margin sealed by Lewis on the buzzer.

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

Next up for Team Bath is a trip to Wales to face Celtic Dragons on Saturday, February 27 (4pm), quickly followed by two home matches in the space of four days.

High-flying Hertfordshire Mavericks visit Team Bath Arena on Monday, February 29 before Loughborough Lightning arrive on Friday, March 4. Both games start at 7.45pm and tickets are available from www.teambath.com/events/ticketline or by calling 0844 888 4412.

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).