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Vitality Netball Superleague 2022 Grand Final: Team Bath Netball

Team Bath have missed out on the top four of the Vitality Netball Superleague only once in their history, back in 2015, but came tantalisingly close this season.

After Covid and injuries disrupted their season, Anna Stembridge’s side took up their place in the play-offs with just one game to spare and will now go for a record-extending sixth title.

Here’s everything you need to know about the history-makers:

Key Player – Layla Guscoth
Only one Team Bath player charted in the top five in the stats tables for the season. It was Layla Guscoth and she did it twice.

The 30-year-old can play across all three defensive positions and is influential in all three.

The qualified doctor produced 59 intercepts this year, just one behind league leader Towera Vinkhumbo of Strathclyde Sirens.

Her 96 turnovers also saw her comfortably sit inside the top defenders and rewarded with for Vitality Player of the Season and a nomination for Player’s Player of the Season as even her opponents admired her craft.

Rising Star – Tash Pavelin
Despite Bath being a long-time winning machine there has still been a chance for young talent to shine.
And no one has shone brighter than defender Tash Pavelin.

Pavelin built on a breakout season in 2021 to establish herself as a key cog in the defence of the five-time champions.

The full-time accountant created 41 deflections and 54 turnovers to show that it isn’t just at work that she produces impressive numbers.

Unsung Hero – Kirsty Harris
In the mid-court, Kirsty Harris has filled the Serena Guthrie-sized hole left as the former England captain announced her retirement from the sport as she prepares to become a mother for the first time.

Taking the place of such a big netball name has not daunted Harris with head coach Stembridge believing the 23-year-old deserves more recognition.

She said: “The thing that has been most pleasing for me is those athletes that you probably wouldn’t pick up because they’ve not played Superleague that long or they don’t play internationally – their development for me has been extremely rewarding.

“Kirsty Harris has played a lot of minutes and last year was the first season she’d ever played and she only played three games – a half and two quarters.

“I’ve been really happy with the likes of Kirsty and others that have stepped up.”

Best Performance – London Pulse, Round 12
Team Bath found themselves involved in plenty of tight tussles throughout the season, but it was a dominant win over fellow play-off hopefuls London Pulse that set out their top-four credentials.

In Round 12, they put in a mammoth performance to defeat Pulse 62-41 in front of a raucous home crowd.

The result capped a glittering weekend for Bath that had started with a 66-41 win away at Surrey Storm and saw them claim a third victory on the bounce.

And it was a performance worthy of a hefty win, as Guscoth combined with Phumza Maweni to be an impenetrable wall in defence.

The soon-to-be-retired Kim Borger led the attack, scoring 44 of Bath’s goals as the home side pulled away in the second half.

Key Moments – narrow wins over Mavericks and Wasps
Bath’s place in the semi-finals was all but guaranteed with a 43-41 victory over Wasps in Round 19, and they may be thankful for the test of nerves when they embark on Friday’s knockout netball.

But captain Imogen Allison highlighted their win over Saracens Mavericks, a re-arranged Round 10 clash, as a turning point in their season.

She said: “Winning that game against Mavs, the rearranged game, because we won by one. It was a big game for us and we really wanted to win and we really pushed for it.

“I think we just really believed that we could do anything from that point because we’ve put ourselves in the best position to make that top four.”

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