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Stars v Storm 4 - clivejonespr.com

Pivotal second quarter sees Stars beat Storm

A pivotal second quarter for Severn Stars saw them take the win against Surrey Storm in their second match in as many days.

After a sluggish start to the match, Stars found their momentum in a pivotal second quarter, as they took a 25-23 lead.  Though Storm continued to battle, threatening to steal the lead from Stars several times, Stars stayed strong, with a stellar defensive display and clinical attack.

Stars went into the game at the Ricoh Arena, as part of the Vitality Netball Superleague’s Big Easter Weekend, which saw all the teams in action twice, with everything to prove against an in-form Storm, after a disappointing loss to Team Bath the day before.

But they found themselves on the back foot from the off, as Storm took an early 2-0 lead. Stars defender, Sam Cook, provided a pivotal defensive stop allowing Stars to level the scores at 3-all after shooter, Maryka Holtzhausen, found fellow shooter Georgia Rowe with a beautiful pass under the post.

Stars defenders, Leah Kennedy and Cook, applied pressure making it hard for Storm to convert to goal but Storm held strong and extended their lead to two goals once again. Their defenders limited space for Stars, who struggled to convert in the attacking third, and Surrey led at the end of the quarter 15-12.

The second quarter opened with a Storm intercept on the Stars’ centre pass, but Cook responded instantly with an emphatic block on Sigi Burger’s shot, preventing them from extending their lead.

Stars looked to build momentum as Lucy Harris found Rowe alone under the post after clever play by Holtzhausen pulled the Storm defenders out of the circle, opening the space and allowing Stars to bring the score to 17-15.

Ward and Kennedy swapping positions in defence proved pivotal for Stars, allowing them to find their rhythm and space towards the end of the quarter and take the lead for the first time. Defensive pressure made it extremely hard for Storm to convert to goal and Stars went into the half-time interval 25-23 ahead.

It was goal for goal at the start of the third quarter, but it was Stars who pushed ahead and extended their lead to three (26-29).

Storm mounted a comeback and minutes later levelled the score. Stars responded to the pressure and regained control of the game, taking a three-goal lead after beautiful up-court play. Multiple mistakes from Stars allowed Storm to even up the score again, but once again Stars responded. Cook produced two consecutive defensive stops, but the quarter finished finely balanced, with Stars ahead 37-36.

After a cagey start to the fourth quarter from both teams it was Stars who edged ahead, taking advantage after defender, Cook, produced a flying defensive stop. Shooter, Rowe, was clinical under the posts, giving Stars a slim three goal lead after a defence splitting pass from Holzthausen. But Storm continued to plug away in defence, producing multiple defensive stops, to bring the score level at 42-all.

Holtzhausen fed a beautiful long-range ball into Rowe, giving Stars the lead once again and this provided the spark they needed to see out the game. Two quick fire goals allowed Stars to take a five goal lead with two minutes to go and this proved too much for Storm to come back from, giving Stars the victory, 51-46.

Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, said: “I’m delighted for the squad to take an impressive win against Storm. We have been hit in our camp with sickness and injuries ruling out a number of our squad. However, I knew that, despite the loss against Bath, the performance had been good and we knew if we carried that forwards into the Storm game we would take the win. There were outstanding performances from Maryka, Jodi-Ann and Sam Cook – but also credit to the mid courters who had never played in that combination before and battled so well against an experienced Storm mid court. We now have four wins from five matches and want to push on for the last two.”

Stars next face Saracens Mavericks away on Saturday (April 27, 4pm), then return to the University of Worcester Arena to play Wasps Netball on May 4. For tickets visit www.ticketline.co.uk/netball-superleague-severn-stars#bio.

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Image credit: Clive Jones