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Rachel Shaw of Team Bath.

Team Bath got their 2020 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) off to the best possible start with a 72-58 victory over Loughborough Lightning at Arena Birmingham.

After exquisite seasons last term, these two teams were determined to make the most of their opening game.

The pair, who finished last season in third and fourth, had a vast array of high quality players on show which treated fans in attendance with a sublime display of attacking netball.

Team Bath have an outstanding record on the opening weekend of the season, now winning their last eight Round 1 matches, and showed exactly why in the first 15 minutes.

After Lightning took a narrow lead in the early stages, prior to Nat Panagarry’s early exit, the southern outfit won the first quarter 19-14.

Mia Ritchie took the centre pass into the second quarter but Loughborough managed to regain possession quickly. After it looked as if Bath may have won back their centre pass, Loughborough Lightning took back a rebound and sent the ball back down the court.

Lightning Goal Shooter Mary Cholhok got one in the net and her side continued to keep possession, for her then to receive another pass and make an equally successful shot. A third consecutive goal from Cholhok bridged the gap in their trail to only one point.

Bath soon retaliated however, getting another one in before Lightning managed to stop them.

A strong centre pass from Loughborough Lightning’s Jess Shaw sent another one flying to Cholhok who quickly translated the pass into a goal.

Team Bath goal shooter Kim Commane put pressure on the Lightning defence, managing to increase Bath’s lead by four points. Bath goal attack Sophie Drakeford-Lewis also played with commitment and continued to get the goals in.

With the scores at 33-27, Team Bath further increased their lead after the interval despite the best efforts of the Loughborough defence. Captain Kim Commane and 2019 Vitality Superleague Young Player of the Year Sophie Drakeford-Lewis proved too much to handle.

It ended 72-58 to last season’s bronze medallists who will be buoyant going into their next fixture away to Celtic Dragons. Lightning, meanwhile, play Strathclyde Sirens in front of their own fans.

Loughborough Lightning starting seven: Mary Cholhok (GS), Ella Clark (GA), Hannah Williams (WA), Jess Shaw (C), Nat Panagrarry (WD), Jasmin Odeogberin (GD), Sam May (GK).

Team Bath starting seven: Kim Commane (GS), Sophie Drakeford-Lewis (GA), Rachel Shaw (WA), Mia Ritchie (C), Imogen Allison (WD), Tash Pavelin (GD), Summer Artman (GK).

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