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Vitality Netball Super League

Head Coach Anna Stembridge admits Team Bath Netball are “hurting” after a run of four successive Vitality Superleague defeats but says they have not given up on a place in the end-of-season play-offs.

Easter Monday’s battling 49-40 defeat to league leaders Loughborough Lightning has left the Sitec-sponsored Blue and Gold nine points adrift of the top four with eight games of the regular season remaining.

The first two of those games are at home to opposition below Team Bath in the table – Celtic Dragons on Saturday (5pm) and Severn Stars on Friday, April 28 (7.45pm) – and Stembridge says, with the support of the Blue and Gold faithful, her players will keep fighting.

“We are just past the halfway stage of the season and we have certainly not given up on a top-four place,” she said.

“We know it is going to be tough and we’ll need some results to go our way but we are not done yet, far from it. We have to take each game at a time, focus on the processes and the outcomes will start to take care of themselves.

“This run is really hurting, there is no getting away from that, but whether we win or lose, our approach has always been to review, respond and learn.

“The girls are still approaching games and training with a positive attitude and their performances in the last quarter against Hertfordshire Mavericks on Friday and the second half against Loughborough Lightning have shown they are fighters.

“In every game this year we have shown flashes of brilliance and had strong quarters, now we must find that consistency.”

Team Bath went into Monday’s match on the back of a dramatic 46-45 home defeat to Mavericks on Good Friday, the visitors hanging on for the points after losing a breathless final quarter 16-8.

Lightning had won all of their matches during 2017 but needed a late surge in the first quarter to take the lead after a confident start by the Blue and Gold.

The league leaders made another push in the second quarter and it proved decisive as they opened up a 24-15 lead. The second half was evenly matched, with defenders Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Layla Guscoth excelling for Team Bath, but Lightning were able to maintain their nine-goal winning margin.

After facing top-of-the-table opposition, next up for Team Bath are a Dragons outfit currently bottom of the league. The teams met in the first match of the season, with the Blue and Gold claiming a 51-41 victory, but Stembridge is taking nothing for granted this weekend.

“Dragons have only had one win this season, against Sirens in round nine last week, but they demonstrated in that game why we will have to be on our best form,” she said.

“No team can be underestimated in this league and you cannot have an off-day. They will be champing at the bit to get that second success but we are equally determined to get back to winning ways.”

Tickets for Saturday’s match – along with the remaining home fixtures against new franchises Severn Stars, Wasps and Sirens – are available now priced £12 for adults, £8 concessions and £35 for a family ticket. Visit www.teambath.com/events/ticketline or call 0844 888 4412.

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