Coach hails ‘ruthless’ Stars after dominant win over Storm

Severn Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, described her side as “ruthless” as they brushed aside Surrey Storm in a commanding 55-43 victory.

Stars held the lead throughout the game as they blew away their opponents, opening up a huge 24-goal advantage midway through a stunning third quarter in one of their finest performances of this year’s Vitality Netball Superleague campaign.

Now they must look to recover quickly in time to play the second leg of their Bank Holiday weekend double-header, as they face the same side again at Surrey Sports Park on Monday (May 28, 7pm).

“We were dominant throughout,” said Bird.

“I’m pleased with how ruthless the players were. I want them to push on and I don’t want them to feel embarrassed about winning by big margins and that’s really good to see.

“We won the third quarter 21-7, which is very rare and unusual, and probably one of the biggest quarters we’ve ever won in the history of the club. It’s just fantastic.”

Bird heaped praise on her side’s defensive performance.  “Storm just couldn’t get through our defence,” she said.  “Becky Oatley did really well and was really disciplined at wing defence and stuck to task, and the two in the circle, Sam Cooke and Phumza Maweni, were just amazing.”

Stars came out flying in the opening quarter at the University of Worcester Arena and fired their way to an early 7-3 lead, moving the ball quickly as wing attack Iona Darroch and centre Laura Malcolm caused Surrey problems with their incisive passing.

Stars’ success going forward was matched by fierce play from their defensive trio, who thwarted several attacks as the hosts stifled Surrey’s forward players for much of the quarter.

The visitors grew into the game and had brought the score back to within just two goals with five minutes of the quarter remaining, before Stars reacted to ensure they ended the first quarter with a 14-9 lead.

Stars carried their momentum into the second quarter, extending their lead to seven points after goal shooter Eleanor Cardwell turned provider, with her defence-splitting pass allowing unmarked goal attack Maryka Holtzhausen to net.

Storm threatened to hit back midway through the second quarter, hitting four goals without reply as they cut the home side’s lead to just six.

But Stars regained control and, helped by the creativity of Darroch and Holtzhausen and the composed finishing of Cardwell, went into the half-time break with a commanding 29-21 lead.

The hosts ramped up the pressure in a scintillating third quarter performance, building a decisive 14-point lead in the early stages.

Goalkeeper Phumza Maweni, goal defence Sam Cook and wing defence Becky Oatley performed superbly defensively to help keep the visitors at bay, limiting Storm to just two goals in the opening 10 minutes of the quarter.

Stars continued to dominate proceedings, nearly doubling their opponents’ score and ending the quarter with a staggering 50-28 advantage.

The hosts rang the changes in the fourth quarter, resting several key players and giving court time to Rosie Allison, Ella Powell-Davis and Amanda Davis.  Although a slightly disjointed final 15 minutes saw their hefty advantage cut back, they still ended the game with a huge 55-43 victory.

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Photo credit: Rockpool Photography