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Stembridge proud of Team Bath as tenure ends on a high

Team Bath clinched third with a 36-32 win over London Pulse. Image: Ben Lumley

Tearful Team Bath head coach Anna Stembridge beamed with pride as her side sent her off on a high by securing third in the Vitality Netball Superleague.

The Blue and Gold edged London Pulse 36-32 at the Copper Box Arena in a cagey match that saw defensive efforts come out on top.

But forwards Kim Borger and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis were clinical with their chances to secure a final medal for Stembridge, who is stepping down from her role.

“I’m incredibly proud in terms of the way the girls conducted themselves,” said Stembridge.

“There were a lot of emotions that meant we were a bit tentative at times, we could have let the ball go but the overriding feeling is pride.

“It was a very defensive game today, the score line showed that, it felt like it was a half-time score line at full-time.

“Credit to Pulse they came out firing against us and didn’t allow us to build that lead.”

Drakeford-Lewis was pivotal to Team Bath’s offensive efforts, scoring 10 goals, and the 23-year-old was pleased with the way her side finished a tough season.

“We’ve shown a lot of resilience throughout this season,” said Drakeford-Lewis.

“It’s been very long, there’s been lots of ups and downs and so to come away with third is great recognition for the hard work that’s gone on behind the scenes.

“We just had to ride the wave and I’m so proud that we ended up getting to this point.”

Defensive duo Phumza Maweni and Layla Guscoth were steely in defence as they kept Pulse’s attack quiet for most of the game, and the latter spoke of just how important the win was for her side.

“Midway through the season we weren’t sure we’d get top four with the games we had left so it shows a huge amount of resilience from the team and it’s a nice way to send off our old guns,” she said.

The win means Stembridge ends her seven-year spell at the club on a positive note.

“Anna has the biggest legacy,” said Superleague Player of the Season Guscoth, also named Player of the Match in the third-place play-off.

“You can’t look at a player, especially us older ones that she hasn’t been a part of their journey along the way.

“We owe her a huge amount and we’re glad we got a medal for her.”

For Stembridge, it was an emotional end to her second spell with the Blue and Gold, shedding a tear as she looked back on her time in the role.

“I feel very privileged,” said Stembridge.

“Coaching for me, you are part of people’s lives and you shouldn’t take that for granted. It’s been a real privilege to take them on a journey and hopefully a positive journey.”

Vitality Netball Superleague is the UK’s elite domestic netball competition and features eleven teams from England, Wales and Scotland. For more information visit netballsl.com

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