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Vitality Netball Super League

Severn Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, has called on her team to be more clinical when in possession of the ball after they lost out in a Midlands derby to Loughborough Lightning 43-58.

After two months of matches on the road and a Commonwealth Games break, Severn Stars returned to the University of Worcester Arena hoping to give their fans their first home win.

But it was not to be as disappointing opening and final quarters left Stars unable to make up the deficit created despite almost matching the opposition in the remainder of the match.

Bird said: “The disappointing first and final quarters created a large goal difference for Lightning, but fortunately closer second and third quarters left Stars in a position to compete throughout the game.  In the coming weeks our players need to focus on being more clinical when in possession of the ball and taking care of the ball to take and convert to goal.”

The first quarter saw both teams get off to a quick start.  Loughborough took an early lead in the first five minutes through a number of turn overs in the mid court by their players Natalie Panagarry and Beth Cobden.  However, through fantastic defensive play, Stars fought back making turn overs of their own, closing Loughborough’s lead to within just four goals.  Yet continued pressure from Shamera Sterling at goal keeper in the shooting circle for Loughborough limited the opportunities Stars had to take the ball to goal, resulting in Loughborough managing to pull away at the end of the first quarter, finishing it 9-17 ahead.

A much closer second quarter saw Stars get off to a promising start, scoring a couple of goals early on.  With a number of fantastic interceptions by Commonwealth Games England gold medal winner Jodie Gibson, Stars chased Loughborough’s six goal lead.  With only a few minutes left until the end of the quarter, Stars upped their game yet again with turnovers from both Sam Cook at goal defence and Phumza Maweni at goal keeper in Loughborough’s goal third.  The end of the second quarter finished 18-27, with Loughborough only extending their lead by one.

The start of the third quarter saw Iona Darroch return to court at wing attack following an injury in the first game of the season.  Stars ensured that they made use of the fresh legs on court producing a strong attacking performance to cut the goal deficit to seven, taking the score to 21-28.  With great support from the Worcester home crowd, Stars’ goal shooter Eleanor Cardwell and goal attack Maryka Holtzhausen performed well in the shooting circle.  However, fantastic shooting by Peace Proscovia and Ella Clark for Lightning, meant the visitors were able to maintain their lead over Stars, with the quarter finishing 31-41.

Stars began the final quarter with a number of changes, with Rosie Allison coming in at goal shooter, Cardwell going to goal attack and Holtzhausen switching to wing attack.  Stars’ effort and work rate saw them deplete Loughborough’s goal difference to just six.  But, with Cardwell having to call injury time, Laura Rudland took to court for just a few minutes until she was able to return to the court.  With disruption on court for Stars, Loughborough’s goal keeper Rebekah Airey was able to turn ball as the away side capitalised on mistakes made by Stars, upping the goal difference to 14.  In the final minutes, fantastic rebound positioning by Stars’ goal keeper Maweni led to a number of turnovers for the home side and great passages of play throughout court, but in some instances Stars struggled to convert this to goals.  This allowed Stars to fall behind, with the final score 43-58 to Loughborough Lightning.

Severn Stars’ captain Laura Malcolm, who was awarded player of the match, said: “Although it was a disappointing result there were many positive moments throughout the game.”

Tickets for the next home game against Benecos Mavericks on May 12 are available at www.severnstars.co.uk.

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