Severn Stars secured their first home win of the season in style with a 55-44 victory over high-flying benecosMavericks.
Mavericks, who sat third in the Netball Superleague table after only two losses all season, had led for much of a tightly contested first half of the match.
But Stars, spurred on by an enthusiastic home crowd at the University of Worcester Arena, took the lead in the third quarter and never surrendered it, dominating through a combination of defensive pressure and smooth attacking play.
Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, said: “I’m delighted for the whole squad in achieving this win. It’s well deserved and fought for and it was great to perform so well at home for our fabulous home crowd.”
With a quick start to the game, Stars managed to take a two-goal lead. Stars managed to retain and build on this throughout the early stages of the first quarter, yet Mavericks fought back, contesting the ball and quickly turned play in their favour. With a number of mistakes from Stars, the away side was able to capitalise and convert ball to goal resulting in a rapidly gained three goal lead for Mavericks, who extended that to end the quarter five in front, at 15-10.
Taking the momentum from the first quarter, Mavericks made a strong start to the second with a couple of early goals. Fantastic defensive pressure from Mavericks’ defence, Keable at goal defence and Quashie at goal keeper, also saw Stars struggle in the shooting third. Yet in a reversal of the turn of play in the first quarter, Stars fought back claiming a number of interceptions. From Mavericks’ mistakes and some fantastic passages of play through court, Stars were able to close the gap in the scoreline to within one goal of Mavericks to make the score 21-20. A change mid quarter saw Alice Travis come on at goal attack for Mavericks, but as both teams battled it out, it was near enough goal for goal in the final five minutes with Mavericks going into the half-time interval ahead by just two, at 23-25.
A tight start to the third quarter saw both teams fighting hard and upping their performance, matching each other goal for goal. Mavericks, who had made a number of changes going into the quarter, exploited their fresh legs on court with fast and efficient ball placement and ball side drives. However, a fantastic turnover from Stars’ goal defence and Player of the Match Sam Cook at a crucial point in the game, closely followed by another turnover from goal keeper Phumza Maweni, kept Stars within two. Quick and effective rotations in the circle, followed by impressive shooting from both Maryka Holtzhausen at goal attack and Eleanor Cardwell at goal shooter pushed Stars two ahead of Mavericks taking the score to 35-33. A strong final few minutes had them further ahead, finishing the third quarter 39-35.
With yet another quick start to the final quarter, Stars converted early goals, and a fantastic interception midcourt from goal defence Jodie Gibson helped Stars extend their lead to 42-35. Throughout the final quarter Stars continued to extend their lead taking them ahead by nine. With defensive back up offers from Sam Cook and Jodie Gibson on the transverse line and with Iona Darroch and Laura Malcolm in the centre court utilising their space, making fabulous drives and feeding the circle, Stars’ attacking play looked smooth and well-organized. With shooter Cardwell also showing fine form, Stars continued their domination of Mavericks, this time extending their lead to eleven goals clear. Through hard work and defensive pressure throughout the court Stars were able to continue turning the ball and converting this into goals ending the game with a 55-44 victory.
Bird said she was delighted with the performance. “We worked really hard in training this week to build on what our strengths were and how to use them in the match,” she added. “Our performance analysis also paid off in that we knew Mavericks like to use the middle channel in attack and so we worked hard to shut off that middle channel. The defending unit were outstanding at delivering this strategy for us and it paid off. Our attack also worked hard during the week to keep changing up their formations so as to not to be too predictable and again this really paid off. Our shooters were superb, both with great stats.”
Tickets for the next home game against Surrey Storm on Friday, May 25 are available at www.severnstars.co.uk.
Photo credit: Lindsey Dowthwaite Photography