Strathclyde Sirens Vs Severn Stars
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British Fast5 All-stars Netball Championship Returns

The British Fast5 All-Stars Championship will return on to the Copper Box Arena on 12th October and tickets are now on sale at tickets.englandnetball.co.uk.

Featuring 12-minute matches, an all-star 5-point line and a Golden Buzzer Power Play, the British Fast5 Netball All-Stars Championship is an all-action afternoon of non-stop, pulsating netball.

Wasps have already qualified for the event as defending champions and will be joined by the top seven teams from the 2019 Vitality Netball Superleague season. Teams have the opportunity to recruit two all-star players for the day, meaning international stars from around the world are set to be added to the line-up.

Matchroom Sport Chairman Barry Hearn said: “The British Fast5 Netball All-Stars Championship is already established as one of the most electrifying days in the domestic calendar. Last year we built on the success of the first Fast5 All-Stars in 2017 and the packed crowd at the Copper Box were treated to a brilliant afternoon of netball.

“The event is already attracting top international players, as seen in 2018 when the likes of Sharni Layton and Ash Brazill came over. With the World Cup taking place in Liverpool and the continued success of the Roses, it’s an exciting time for netball in the UK and we’re thrilled to be bringing the Fast All-Stars back to the Copper Box for what promises to be another great event in October.”

Joanna Adams, CEO of England Netball, said: “The British Fast5 All-Stars Championship is a must-see and must-attend event on the netball calendar.

“There’s always such a buzz as our fans can watch their favourite players – both Vitality Netball Superleague and international stars – competing at an iconic venue in one of the most entertaining formats of the game.

“Fast5 is always a fantastic spectacle of athleticism, flair and skill, and with the ever-increasing interest in netball, we’re delighted to be working with Matchroom Sport again for the third staging of this tournament.”

With tickets priced at £24 (bronze), £30 (silver) and £40 (gold) with courtside hospitality tickets available at £100. Under 16s receive 50% off tickets. Groups of 10 or more will receive 10% off.

Sam Cook challenges for the ball

Stars unlucky as they suffer Surrey defeat

Severn Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, has insisted her team need to start better in order to triumph at home, as they were defeated 46-55 by the Surrey Storm at the University of Gloucestershire Sports Arena.

The Stars, who were competitive throughout, opened the scoring through captain Maryka Holtzhausen, as she paved a clear path to the net for the home side more than once early on. However shortly after, Surrey strung a number of scores together to take the lead, and their momentum was marked by a spectacular looping shot by goal attack Rhea Dixon.

The Stars kept in touch by working space for goal shooter Georgia Rowe, who went on to register 28 points for the afternoon, and the team trailed by only four at the first interval.

Goal defence Jodi-Ann Ward proved difficult to pass and the Stars kept the pressure on in the second quarter, the Jamaican alongside goal keeper Sam Cook ensured the Storm had to work hard to find the net. The Stars missed multiple opportunities to reduce the deficit before half-time, choosing to introduce Paige Reed late in the second quarter to take the chances they were creating, which proved successful.

With Stars’ goal defence Ward side-lined through injury, the game opened up in the third quarter as the Storm extended their lead to six. Despite the growing distance on the scoreboard the Stars always looked threatening, Paige Reed making the most of Georgia Rowe’s fantastic movement to find her with a sublime pass into the in-goal area. But with the efforts of Surrey duo Lorraine Kowalewska and Shadine Van Der Merwe, the Stars struggled to score consistently enough to edge back into contention.

Surrey continued to counter attack well as they had throughout the game and goal shooter Sigrid Burger struck to extend the Storms’ lead to 9. The presence of Paige Reed continued to prove creative for the Stars but ultimately they went down 46-55 to now fifth placed Surrey, who sit three places above the Stars in eighth.

There wasn’t much between the two teams throughout the encounter, however Bird highlighted that the visitors looked too comfortable early on.

Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, said: “I’m a little bit disappointed, we didn’t start well, and we had a nervy first half. We had a very nervy first five minutes and allowed the Storm to feel at home, and you don’t want the away team feeling comfortable. I felt like we were battling from the start really.”

The Severn Stars will face ninth placed Strathclyde Sirens next on Friday 22nd February at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.

Bird added: “Similarly to the Storm the Sirens are another team that we beat in pre-season, so I think it’s in our hands to play a little bit smarter, and when we win ball score off it and reward our defenders by being a bit more clinical in attack. It’s early days at the minute and we’ve got players who are injured to come back into the side. The players are working hard, and even though it’s cliché we look to perform well in the next game and all we can do is go from there.”

Tickets are now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Big Easter Weekend!

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

Lightning vs Thunder Mary Cholhok

Lightning end Thunder’s unbeaten run with second half comeback

Loughborough Lightning secured their third win of the season on Saturday night, knocking Manchester Thunder from the top spot in doing so with a 65 – 60 victory. Travelling to the north west, Lightning were eager to put last week’s loss behind them and bring their A game against a strong unbeaten Thunder. With a strong history of closely fought matches and shock results between the two sides, this clash showed matched that description right down to a tee.

Coming off the back of a tough loss at home last weekend to Team Bath, Lightning had all to play for and a lot to prove going into this weekend’s match. Renowned for their loud crowds and physical play, Manchester Thunder had yet to secure a loss all season and were looking to continue with their streak.

Sitting just behind defending champions, Wasps in the league table, Thunder went into the match flying high and began the game with a ferocity like no other. Eager not to let mistakes get the better of them this time, a solid start for Lightning gave them the confidence needed to match Thunder goal for goal for much of the opening quarter. Dynamic duo, Clark and Cholhok worked closely together to cover off all areas of the circle, despite Lightning alumni Rebekah Airey’s best attempts. Down at the other end of the court, Keenan fended off the physical digs from Thunder attack to keep her cool and force error in their attack. The quarter ended with both sides level.

End of Q1: Loughborough Lightning 16 – 16 Manchester Thunder

Eager to push on and put the score-line in their favour, Lightning made no changes to their line-up and instead looked to continue with their style of play and look for every chance possible to steal the ball. With the notorious ‘Thunder drum’ ramping up its presence it was down to captain Nat Panagarry to match the noise providing words of encouragement throughout the court as her team continued to keep their composure and press on into half-time.

Half-time: Loughborough Lightning 32 – 34 Manchester Thunder

The team returned for the second half with no changes once again, despite Thunder making changes to its line-up with England Roses cohort Laura Malcolm and Ellie Cardwell taking to court. Famous for their 3rd quarter break through’s the crowd were soon on the edge of their seats as Lightning quickly took the lead for the first time.

With Joseph and Shaw sending smooth looped balls into Cholhok who was supported by Clark’s ability to sink a ball from the edge of the circle, the score line stayed in Lightning’s favour for much of the quarter. Meanwhile at the opposite end, Thunder increased their physicality in a bid to fend off Lightning defence. Ignoring the rough and tumble, Keenan and Oyesola covered off Thunder’s attacking circle forcing balls wide and stopping play at every opportunity.

End of Q3: Loughborough Lightning 50 – 47 Manchester Thunder

Just three goals ahead the game was far from secure and Lightning had to muster all their reserve energy to press on and steal the victory from the home side. Once again, the starting seven returned to court with a fierce determination on their faces. With both sides fighting tooth and nail to hold the ball, three minutes passed without either side scoring a goal, however that didn’t last long. Capitalising on cautions and penalties from Thunder’s increasing brutality, Lightning opened up the scoring. Thunder retaliated quickly, closing the gap to just a single point with seven minutes to go before calling a stop to play to make changes to their shooters in a last-ditch attempt to salvage the game. Ignoring the fresh legs and changes to play, Lightning seized the opportunity to push on and left a floundering Thunder to adjust, widening the gap to 5 points. Finally, the last whistle sounded and Lightning were named victorious.

Full-time: Loughborough Lightning 65 – 60 Manchester Thunder

Returning to her old stomping ground, this time as Head Coach for the opposition, Lightning’s Sara Bayman’s reaction at the final whistle was one for the cameras;

“I think we were a lot more clinical tonight across the entire game, we took much more ball to goal and defensively we put them under a lot of pressure which really told in the final quarter. It was definitely a performance the girls should be proud of tonight.

“It’s been a tough week, it’s always the case after a loss. We’ve worked hard gone back to basics and gotten it clear in our minds what we want to achieve in both attack and defence. We’ve done a lot on just believing how good we are and that we can match up to some of the stronger sides, we’re a very good team and we just need to consistently show it. Hopefully today we did show that and we probably sent some shockwaves through the league at the same time.”

Captain Nat Panagarry touched on the importance of tonight’s win going into the next few rounds;

“We know when we come to Thunder that it’s going to be loud and it’s going to be physical and we’ve been training really hard this last week. We knew our performance against Bath last week wasn’t good enough and you can get punished in this league as that showed. Hopefully tonight we’ve sent a message out and showed what we’re capable of and what we can do.”

Lightning are back on the road next weekend as they travel to Surrey Sports Park to face Surrey Storm. Currently equal on points, the clash is set to be another nail-biting encounter.

Lightning return home on Saturday 2nd March to welcome new side London Pulse to Loughborough University. Tickets are on sale now and can be found here: www.loughboroughlightning.com.

Tickets are now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Big Easter Weekend!

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

Sam Bird - clivejonespr

Severn Stars look to bounce back against Surrey Storm

Severn Stars will look to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat when they take on Surrey Storm on Saturday (16 February).

The Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) side will be playing their second home game at the University of Gloucestershire Sports Arena (6pm centre pass), with another sell-out crowd expected.

Stars’ were left frustrated when they lost to Manchester Thunder at the University of Worcester Arena last Saturday (9 February) by 49-62. Head Coach, Sam Bird, has been working on a number of strategies during training this week to put in a successful performance in front of a home crowd.

Severn Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, said: “We will be looking to expand the periods of very good play we put out against Manchester Thunder on Saturday. We have been working on our strategies to give ourselves the best chance to perform strongly against Storm and we are looking forward to the match.

“The last game at Gloucester was great in terms of the crowd being very close to the courtside and creating a great atmosphere for us to play in. We hope to use the home support to our advantage this week.”

Bird added: “Both teams have South African import players so will be familiar with the style of play and each other’s preferred way to play.”

The Severn Stars are a joint franchise between the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire.

For tickets visit www.ticketline.co.uk/netball-superleague-severn-stars#bio.

Tickets are now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Big Easter Weekend!

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!