Saracens Mavericks ran out 68-38 winners over Strathclyde Sirens on Saturday afternoon.
With a bitter, season-ending two-goal loss against Sirens at the end of the 2018 season still fresh in the memory, they travelled to Scotland with intent to right some wrongs.
The hosts took the game east to Edinburgh and the spectacular Oriam Performance Centre. The new surroundings inspired Sirens to score first, although resilient Mavericks defence meant that it took 10 passes for the ball to finally reach the goal.
Mavericks familiar back line of Razia Quashie at GK, Jo Trip in GD and Michelle Drayne at WD started to apply the pressure, but the home side returned the favour with equal measures of patience making it difficult to win the ball.
Sirens were missing their star shooter Cat Tuivaiti, but Bethan Goodwin’s strength and Lynsey Gallagher’s speed combined to find gaps in the away defence. The Scottish side led 15-14 at the end of Q1.
Q2 started with the Sirens defence in fiery form, lots of body on body contest made it tough work for Mavericks to find a route to goal.
Sasha Corbin and Georgia Lees swapped bibs and continued to battle through the gauntlet to find George Fisher and Kadeen Corbin on the end of their passes.
A perfect centre pass to goal conversion saw Mavericks take all of their possession to goal in the second quarter. The momentum had switched ends and the visitors went into half-time 32-24 ahead.
Karyn Bailey entered the game at GS for the third quarter, and whilst the away team struggled to find her in the opening minutes, Fisher, now at GA, displayed great court craft and ball placement to settle the team back into the game.
Trip and Lindsay Keable were also gelling as a duo with Trip coming out with fine intercepts and dominant rebounds.
Corbin dominated the line with her twists, turns and thoughtful feeding, but it was Fisher who impressed with her availability and precision in the circle.
Combined with Bailey, who slotted away 13 of her 14 attempts in Q3, Mavericks stretcher the advantage out to 52-31 with one quarter to go.
Steph Collard was introduced at WD for the final 15 minutes and she drove the ball through the Sirens zone defence with ease, whilst continuing to shut down the threat of Nicole McCleery.
There was just enough time left for a season debut for the returning Sophie Hankin, after spending the last six months on the treatment table with a knee injury.
She didn’t waste any time getting on the stat sheet, celebrating her return to action by whizzing across the circle, cutting up the Sirens defence and slotting away her trademark long bomb.
Head Coach Kat Ratnapala said after the game: “Scotland has notoriously been a tough place for us to travel up to and I’m pleased that we have finally broken the run of losses in past years.
“George Fisher was outstanding today, really impressive at both GS and GA, she was a target and playmaker in both positions for our attacking play.
“Reaching the halfway point of the season in the top four is absolutely where we wanted to be at this stage, but we are under no illusions that there is a lot more work to come.”
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