Wasps Netball Vs Celtic Dragons
Team Bath v Loughborough Lightning, 

Friday, 12, April, 2019 - Team Bath Arena - Bath - United Kingdom
Mandatory Photo Credit: Bob Bradford

Team Bath come from seven goals down to stun Lightning

Team Bath Netball overturned a seven-goal deficit and then held off a last-quarter comeback as they defeated top-four rivals Loughborough Lightning 57-55 in a sensational 2019 Vitality Superleague showdown that fully lived up to its pre-match billing.

The battle between third and fourth place promised to be an epic encounter and it was all that and more as another four-figure crowd at the Team Bath Arena was treated to a spectacle high on quality, drama and tension.

There was nothing to separate the teams in the first quarter but a seven-goal burst during the second period gave Lightning the initiative, only for the Sitec-sponsored Blue & Gold to rally superbly.

They closed the gap to three at half-time before a magnificent team performance in the third-quarter, which they won 21-11, put Team Bath into a seemingly comfortable 49-42 lead.

Lightning had other ideas, though, and managed to draw level midway through a breathless final quarter but Team Bath dug deep, held their nerve and managed to wrap up three vital points in the race for the semi-finals.

Head Superleague coach Anna Stembridge said: “It was a brilliant game, we knew it was going to be an awesome spectacle. We know that Lightning have the attacking power to build a lead and kill the game but I was really proud of the way we stuck to the task and showed such grit and character.

“We got over the line, we got the points and we have learnt a lot from that game and that performance.”

Defender Summer Artman, who was Genuine Car Services Player of the Match for a second successive home game, added: “As a team we are finding different ways to win, so we’ll take coming back from a seven-goal deficit.

“We could feel the pressure on the court but the crowd really helped us, they fully got behind us and it feels really good to have got the win.”

Both teams went into the match on the back of their first defeats in more than a month and were clearly determined to make quick amends.

A high-quality first period saw Team Bath got off to a confident start as they turned over Lightning’s centre-pass and took a lead that they held until the closing stages of the quarter.

The Blue & Gold were pinging the ball around the court quickly, while Kim Commane and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis combined excellent movement with clinical finishing as the hosts edged into an 11-7 lead with five minutes of the quarter to go.

Artman and Eboni Usoro-Brown were applying excellent defensive pressure at the other end but Ella Clark and imposing shooter Mary Cholhok began to work some space and, as Lightning forced turnovers, the visitors were able to claw back Team Bath’s lead.

They edged ahead for the first time in the closing stages but a fine finish from Drakeford-Lewis on the buzzer ensured a hard-fought first quarter finished all square at 14-14.

The early stages of the second quarter continued to be evenly matched but a seven-goal blitz from the ruthless Cholhok saw Lightning take a stranglehold on the game.

The atmosphere was tense in the Team Bath Arena but the home side kept battling away and, with the crowd fired up by two superb interceptions by Usoro-Brown and Artman, they began to work their way back into the game.

With Commane providing some fine finishes, Team Bath cut the lead to two before a late goal from Clark ensured Lightning held a 38-21 advantage at the break.

There was a blow for Team Bath in the opening minute of the third quarter as Drakeford-Lewis took a knock and limped off the court but replacement Laura Rudland immediately settled into the rapid pace of the game as she set up Commane for two quick-fire goals.

She was also on target twice herself in succession as Team Bath closed to within one goal and, after a phenomenal interception from Serena Guthrie, Rudland scored again to level at 34-34 before putting the hosts ahead for the first time since quarter one.

Another Commane double quickly stretched the lead out to three goals and, while Lightning managed to stay in touch, the wind was now very much in Team Bath’s sails.

Imogen Allison and Guthrie were dominating the mid-court, forcing a number of turnovers and helping Artman and Usoro-Brown lessen the influence of Lightning’s previously influential attackers.

Rachel Shaw, Rudland and Commane were also fluid in attack as Team Bath went on to win the quarter 21-11 and turn a three-goal deficit at half-time into an emphatic 49-42 advantage.

Lightning made some attacking changes for the final 15 miites, with Amy Clinton replacing Cholhok at GS and former Team Bath player Jess Shaw – who had come on late in the third period – continuing at C.

It had a massive impact as the visitors produced another brilliant seven-goal burst to draw level at 51-51 midway through an increasingly nervy final period.

The game remained in the balance right up until the last couple of minutes before, with Drakeford-Lewis back on at GA, Team Bath finally managed to put together three goals in a row to finally kill off Lightning’s challenge.

Next up for Team Bath is a busy Easter weekend which sees them visit South West rivals on Saturday, April 20 (6pm) before taking on fellow semi-final contenders Saracens Mavericks during Super 6 at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on Sunday, April 21 (6pm).

Tickets for both the Mavericks game and Team Bath’s final home match of the regular season – against newcomers London Pulse on Saturday, May 4 (6pm) – are on sale now at netball.teambath.com/fixtures.

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!

Photo credit: Bob Bradford Images

twitter-In-Stream_Wide___Jamie Burch

Fan Focus: Jamie Burch

In March, Celtic Dragons travelled to Glasgow to take on Strathclyde Sirens. It was Dragons’ furthest away trip of the season and they wouldn’t have been expecting big away following, however, one fan did the job of a hundred and cheered on his side to a fantastic victory.

Jamie Burch took on the home crowd and made his voice heard over the top of hundreds of Sirens fans. His enthusiasm and encouragement didn’t go unnoticed with several Dragons players taking to social media to thank Jamie for his support.

jamie burch tweets

Ahead of the reverse fixture, we caught up with Jamie to find out more about his story, how he thinks the Vitality Netball Superleague season will go and his love of netball.

So, firstly how does a Dragons fan end up in Glasgow?

I’m currently studying Acting at Drama School at the Royal Conservatoire of Acting.

How long have you followed netball and Dragons for?

I’ve been following the netball since I was 14, I’m now 22. I’ve been a Dragons fan for over 3 years.

How was it being one of the only Dragon fans at the venue?

I genuinely think I was the only Dragons fan there that night, which is understandable as it was so far.

I didn’t really just think about it. If anything I think it would have only made the Dragons play better having the loudest Welshman there.  I was competing against groups of people, and school children. I was on my feet. People were recording me and Facebook living me.

That was Dragons’ first win over Sirens (third attempt) and the players reached out on social media to say how much they appreciated your support. How does it feel knowing you contributed to their victory?

Well, I had no clue until my friend who’s in the Welsh Netball set-up sent me a screenshot. I was grateful, was just doing my job for the girls. They do their job, I do mine.

What do you remember from the game? Is there a particular moment that stands out?

I just remember the umpire telling our Jamaican GK Stacey Facey to tidy up and me shouting “and again Facey!”

Do you have a favourite player on the Dragons side and why?

It has to be Nia Jones for me, she’s so tenacious and scrappy and is always contesting. She’s so vocal and a real character in the league, on and off the court. She is our very own Sharni Layton who I adore.

Who do you think will finish in the top four of the Vitality Netball Superleague?

Wasps, Saracens, Manchester Thunder, Team Bath if they get Serena Guthrie and Eboni Usuro-Brown back in the squad, but if not Loughborough Lightning.

You’re a huge netball fan, what is it about netball that you love so much?

I always played it in primary school, stopped at high school and sometimes play mixed league. For me, I love the speed, the strategic side of the game and the player on player marking.

Everyone always questions when I say netball. But once they watch it and see these women put their bodies on the line they take it back. Strong women killing it!

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!

Netball Training 20

Wasps look to go nine points clear of fifth

Tamsin Moala says every win is crucial as Wasps Netball look to take a big step towards securing a top-four spot in the Vitality Netball Superleague on Monday night.

The Kiwi shooter, who was born in York, joined Wasps this season and has enjoyed increased court-time in recent fixtures.

Wasps travel to Milton Keynes to take on Saracens Mavericks on Monday 15 April (7pm centre-pass).

The Black and Golds currently sit second in the Vitality Netball Superleague and a win on Monday would see Wasps build a nine-point advantage over fifth-place Mavericks.

Moala, who signed for Wasps from Team Northumbria, has been benefiting from the tutelage of fellow shooters Rachel Dunn and Katie Harris this season.

She enjoyed significant court-time against London Pulse and also played a key role in closing out the win against Team Bath last time out.

Moala said: “We had been working hard on delivering a strong performance for a full 60 minutes, so it was nice to execute that against Bath.

“I think that it was a product of having good training and sticking to the game-plan, which will serve us well in the last few games of the season.

“Every game is important now because it’s so tight in the top four you can’t afford to have an off-night at this stage in the season.

“I’ve had some chances to perform in the last few games and every time I get an opportunity to show what I can do I really appreciate it – because we have such a talented squad here at Wasps.

“I really do feel like I’m learning and developing as a player and you can’t help but improve with players around you like Rachel and Katie.”

With five games left to play in the regular season, the race for a top-four finish is on, and Mavericks will be looking to secure an important three points to keep the pressure on the sides above them.

Mavericks suffered a shock defeat last time out against London Pulse and Moala believes they will be determined to bounce back in this fixture.

“The league is really tight at the moment and there are shock losses every week, we know Mavericks will be looking to come back with a strong performance,” she said.

“On any given night every team in this league has the potential to come away as winners – such is the quality of the competition now. You have to bring your A-game to every game.

“I’m really loving it here at Wasps. The team culture here is really strong and it’s a great set-up to be a part of.

“A win on Monday would of course help us in the push for a top-four finish but every game is important now.

“We have got to stay focused on us and keep doing what we can every week in training to achieve our goals come the end of the season.”

Tickets are now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final!

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

Severn Stars v Thunder 2 - clivejonespr.com

Any team can win on the day, says Stars’ Coach

Severn Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, has acknowledged that her team go into their match against top of the table Manchester Thunder as underdogs, but says any team on its day can triumph.

Her side come to the match at the Belle Vue Sports Village, in Manchester, on Saturday (April 13, 5pm) full of confidence following their first back-to-back wins of the season, against Celtic Dragons and Strathclyde Sirens.

“Manchester Thunder are performing well at the moment and are deservedly at the top of the table,” said Bird.  “We are underdogs for this match but, as we have already seen this season, any team on its day can take the win.  Historically we have always enjoyed our matches against them and we have run them close in previous occasions. We are looking forwards to taking them on at the weekend.”

Though Thunder came away the victors at the match at the University of Worcester Arena in February 49-62 and will be looking for a win to maintain their three point lead over Wasps, Bird said her players have been working hard to finish the last few games of the season on a high.

The training paid off last weekend when they delivered a 49-40 victory over Strathclyde Sirens at the University of Gloucestershire Sports Arena.  The team maintained a narrow lead throughout the match, then pulled away in the final quarter.  This followed a thrilling win against Celtic Dragons.  Five goals down with the final quarter to go, Stars staged a comeback with a nine goal run unanswered to lead the match at one point by four goals with four minutes to go.  They went on to take the win, 52-53.

“We have had back to back wins ourselves and the players are still keen to push on with stronger performances in the next phase of the season,” added Bird. “We have been focusing on our transition play and capitalising on scoring off ball we win.”

Tickets for the next Stars home game against Team Bath, at the University of Gloucestershire Sports Arena, on April 20 (6pm), are available at 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!

Photo credit: Clive Jones