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Severn Stars’ captain inspires team to first win of the season

Severn Stars’ captain, Maryka Holtzhausen, returned from international duty with South Africa to inspire the team to a memorable home victory over Celtic Dragons.

There was a sell-out crowd at the new University of Gloucestershire Arena to see Severn Stars take on Celtic Dragons in the Vitality Netball Superleague.

Stars were looking for their first win of the season, having lost narrowly in rounds one and two so far. But it was perhaps the Dragons who might have been expected to start the more confidently, having taken maximum points in round 2 against London Pulse.

However, with the excited Gloucestershire crowd roaring them on, it was the home side who started strongest. The international break seemed to have rejuvenated the Stars, who also welcomed back captain, Maryka Holtzhausen into attack, fresh from starring for South Africa in the International Quad Series. Her experience and game control immediately shone through and her combination with Iona Darroch, at wing attack, was scintillating at times.

Meanwhile at the defensive end, Jamaican international and player of the match, Jodi-Ann Ward showed the home crowd exactly what Stars have signed, as she turned over ball after ball in the first five minutes, stunting the Dragons attack. Ward formed a formidable partnership at the back with Gloucester local, Sam Cook, and together they continually rebuffed the advances of the Dragons’ attack. Dragons began to grow into the game as the quarter wore on, but Stars’ strong start meant they led 11-8 as the first quarter came to an end.

The second quarter continued in much the same fashion, as Welsh shooter, Georgia Rowe, rapidly becoming a Stars’ favourite, slotted away goal after goal, despite the physical attention of the Dragons’ defence. Another player in her first season at Stars, Lucy Harris began to show just why Sam Bird was keen to sign her. Her constant work rate and defensive commitment at centre made it difficult for Dragons to gain any momentum and Stars went in at the half time having extended their lead to 28-21.

After the break, Stars looked determined to carry on where they left off and they continued to pile the pressure on the travelling side. The defensive trio of Sam Cook, Ward and Ella Powell-Davies, on her first ever start in the VNSL, proved tough for the experienced international attack of Dragons and although they ticked over their scoreboard, it was hard-work for the Welsh side. Stars extended their lead once again to finish 43-32 at end of quarter.

Head coach, Sam Bird, made use of her bench in the final quarter, maximising the opportunity to try new combinations as the win began to look secure. There were appearances also for England A internationals, Halimat Adio and Paige Reed, as well as a brief cameo for Welsh international, Cara Lea Moseley against her former club. Stars completed a confidence boosting 57-40 win with a complete four quarter performance, winning every quarter in Gloucester in front of a delighted crowd.

Goal shooter Georgia Rowe felt the crowd played their part in the victory. Georgia said: “The crowd was awesome, the atmosphere was really good and I think that is what kept us going. We just kept building and building. A really good performance.”

Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, echoed these thoughts, remarking: “I am really pleased with the performance. The Gloucester crowd was great. Maryka coming back has given the group a lot of confidence and lifted the level of every player. We were solid in every position throughout the court and we have some great depth on the bench now too.”

Stars next travel to Team Bath Netball on Friday 1 February before returning for their next home game against Manchester Thunder at the University of Worcester Arena.

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

Image credit: clivejonespr.com

Georgia Rowe 3 - credit IanLovell.com

Welsh internationals join Stars

Two Welsh internationals are the latest signings to join the Severn Stars’ attacking line-up.

Experienced Superleague shooters Cara Lea Moseley and Georgia Rowe said they were looking forward to seeing what Stars could achieve in its third Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) campaign.

Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, said: “We’re delighted to have Georgia and Cara with us.  Georgia has been improving year on year in the VNSL and is now a hugely effective shooter.  Cara impressed me last year playing for Dragons and Wales.  She is a clear leader on court and plays a smart intelligent game.  Between them they provide two of the tallest shooters in the VNSL and will combine brilliantly with our other shooters in our top 10.”

The pair both have experience in the Vitality Netball Superleague, having previously played for Cardiff-based side Celtic Dragons.

Moseley has more than 50 caps for Wales, competing at both the 2007 and 2011 World Championships and 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The South Wales-born 6ft tall shooter, who can play at either goal shooter or goal attack, combines elite netball with her work as a psychologist and her Psychology PhD studies.

“I am so excited to sign for Stars this season, it’s a great opportunity to join a new franchise and I can’t wait to get started,” said the 31-year-old, who lives in Penarth, near Cardiff.  “I hope I will play some of my best netball yet, and make a really positive contribution to the Stars attack.  I’m looking forward to getting to know the rest of the team and seeing what we can do on court this season.”

South Wales-born Rowe started playing netball at 17 and has represented her country at Under 19 through to Under 21 level, and now plays at senior level.  She represented Wales at the Netball World Cup in 2015 and made this year’s Commonwealth Games squad. 

“I am so excited to be playing for Severn Stars this year, I’m really looking forward to improving my game whilst facing new challenges,” said the 23-year-old, who lives in Newport and also works as an early years practitioner.

“I am looking forward to working hard and becoming a much better and more dominant shooter for my new team.

“I am most looking forward to working alongside a new group of players and coaches and building new friendships and relationships on and off the court.”

This will be the 6ft 5in goal shooter’s fifth year in the Superleague after spells with Dragons and a year at Team Northumbria.

Rowe added: “I think and hope to bring some fun and laughter to this team as well as the obvious answer, height.  I will also bring a positive and open attitude, as well as youth, confidence and fight.”

Moseley and Rowe join Stars’ other signings so far, Jodie Gibson, Iona Darroch, Lucy Harris, Maryka Holtzhausen and Sam Cook.

To check out the Severn Stars fixtures for this season and buy tickets visit www.severnstars.co.uk.

Tickets are now on sale for Super 10 – get your squad together and head to the season opener on Saturday 5th January 2019 at Arena Birmingham!

Photo credit: IanLovell.com