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TeAroha Keenan

Keenan wants to come back stronger

Team Northumbria will go into Round 5 of the Vitality Netball Superleague with no wins from their first four games.

You can find the Northumbria match report from their 58-28 defeat at the hands of Team Bath here:

Te Aroha Keenan insisted the next generation of Team Northumbria stars will come back stronger after another tough examination of their top flight credentials in Bath last night.

There is no time for the Sport Central club to dwell on a 58-28 defeat in the South West – with Yorkshire Jets due on Tyneside in two days’ time.

And Keenan heads into a must-win clash confident her youngest players are picking up the court time and experience required to kickstart a disappointing season to date.

TN’s starting seven at Bath boasted an average age of less than 20 with both Brie Grierson and Jaydene Robinson handed key roles from the centre pass.

“We lost the first quarter by a single goal and to see so much young talent out on court is exciting for the future,” said Keenan.

“At 22 and 23 Leah Kennedy and Tuaine [Keenan] were the oldest players on court and I was very proud of what that group achieved.

“But I suppose Bath’s physicality and experience told in the second half. For the first time this season I thought the team looked a little lost after the break and that was disappointing.

“We will regroup and get ready for the Jets knowing we’re at home and we have the benefit of a partisan Sport Central crowd.”

TN trailed 10-9 after the opening period in Bath and led early on in the second quarter.

Missing injured centre Nicole Dixon, Keenan started with four teenagers against the star-studded hosts.

And for 20 minutes TN looked capable of springing a surprise against one of this season’s top four contenders.

Shanice Beckford and Chiara Semple formed an all-new attacking line-up with veteran shooter Lynsey Armitage held back until the second half.

And Keenan felt a 27-15 half-time deficit failed to do her battling side justice.

“The scoreline doesn’t really tell the story of the first half,” she added. “I set my players some pretty lofty targets and many of them came off court happy with what they’d achieved.

“We flew out of the blocks but Bath slowly turned the screw in defence and did a very good job of limiting our attacking threat.”

The hosts dominated the second half to close out a convincing victory but Keenan insists a 0-4 record will not prey on the minds of her young squad come Monday night’s clash with the Jets.

“People say it’s a game we can win but it’s about how we perform on the night,” she added. “What we need to do after what is a long drive back to the North East is get ourselves back into play mode.

“This weekend’s schedule is a challenge in itself but we can’t wait to get back to Sport Central and play on front of our own fans again.”

Monday’s live Sky Sports clash gets underway from 7.45pm and tickets are on sale from the venue’s reception or by visiting the Team Northumbria Netball Superleague page on nusportcentral.com

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.