England Roses’ Nat Panagarry captained Loughborough Lightning to the first ever Just Eat British Fast5 All-Stars Championship title as they beat Team Bath 35-33 in a gripping final which went down to the wire at The O2.
It was a fitting finale to a non-stop evening of thrilling netball as South African shooter and tournament MVP Renske Stoltz scored the winning five-pointer with just 20 seconds left on the clock.
Chelsea Lewis’ early shooting gave Bath a 17-9 lead, but Lightning made the most of their power play to overturn that score through Peace Proscovia’s accuracy.
With just four minutes to play, Kadeen Corbin fired Bath back into their lead with a 10-pointer in their power play and sunk a three-pointer to hand her side a 33-30 lead with a minute remaining.
But Stoltz held her nerve to net a five pointer and secure the title for Lightning.
Speaking post-match, Panagarry said: “Today was a lot of fun but we really wanted to win.
“We knew we had a brilliant chance and I am so happy for the girls to have this win leading into the season.
“It is great that we could get this win for Kaz (Karen Atkinson).
“We wanted to do it in the Superleague final but it is a great to end with this victory.”
Lightning had defeated Wasps 31-27 in their semi-final, which was undoubtedly one of the matches of the tournament with long bombs, a last chance to win it and a sending off.
Amy Flanagan was sin binned for the Superleague champions, forcing Rachel Dunn to briefly take the centre bib and Stoltz took full advantage to fire her side into the final.
Roses’ defender Eboni Beckford-Chambers led Bath to the evening’s showpiece.
They earned their chance to battle for the trophy and cheque for £25k with a 34-26 win over Severn Stars.
Manchester Thunder, who brought back England internationals Sara Bayman and Helen Housby, went out to dark horses Severn Stars as the Roses’ Eleanor Cardwell sunk long bomb after long bomb.
While Surrey Storm, who had drafted in Stacey Francis for the tournament, were eliminated after a 34-21 defeat to Wasps in Match 9.
DOUBLE ELIMINATION STAGE
Surrey Storm 11-20 Hertfordshire Mavericks
Manchester Thunder 31-42 Loughborough Lightning
Severn Stars 24-28 Wasps Netball
Team Bath 19-18 Team Northumbria
Loughborough Lightning 35-23 Wasps Netball
Hertfordshire Mavericks 5-26 Team Bath
Surrey Storm 35-22 Team Northumbria
Manchester Thunder 9-24 Severn Stars
Wasps Netball 34-21 Surrey Storm
Hertfordshire Mavericks 8-24 Severn Stars
SEMI FINAL 1
Loughborough Lightning 31-27 Wasps Netball
SEMI FINAL 2
Team Bath 34-26 Severn Stars
Loughborough Lightning 35-33 Team Bath