Manchester Thunder Vs Loughborough Lightning

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Kim Commane 2019

Team Bath storm to emphatic win at Loughborough

Anna Stembridge has hailed Team Bath Netball’s biggest Vitality Superleague win of the 2019 season so far – Saturday’s 75-50 victory at Loughborough Lightning – as a “performance to be proud of”.

The Blue & Gold were dominant right across the court as they produced the perfect response to their disappointing home defeat to Surrey Storm in their previous game and moved level on points with Saracens Mavericks, who they visit in a televised fixture on Saturday (February 16, 6.30pm centre-pass).

“The girls really got their heads down after the Storm game and it was pleasing to see them respond like that, they put out a performance to be proud of,” said Team Bath Netball Superleague Head Coach Stembridge.

“Loughborough have had some personnel changes but they are still a really good side and the final scoreline doesn’t reflect what a well contested game it was.

“For me, what was most pleasing was the way we built throughout the match. It was quite close for the first ten minutes but once we found our feet, we really clicked into gear and finished the first quarter brilliantly to lead 22-12.

“They came back at us during the second period but it is important that we demonstrated we are comfortable when going goal for goal with a team and that was certainly the case on Saturday.

“We had a game plan that we stuck to for most of the game and we brought real intensity right across the court. We were relentless in defence as a team and we were slick in attack, displaying some really good ball speed.

“There was no sitting back on the lead either – we won all four quarters and maintained a high level of performance throughout, with the players who came off the bench – Leila Thomas for her debut, Mia Ritchie and Beryl Friday – all making an impact.”

Team Bath named the same starting seven that had lined up against Storm, with University of Bath student Chartie Curtis once again forming a good partnership with Summer Artman in defence.

Imogen Allison and captain Serena Guthrie continued to forge an excellent understanding just in front of the back two, breaking up play and linking brilliantly with the dynamic attacking trio of Rachel Shaw, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis and Kim Commane.

Australian shooter Commane was in ruthless form as she converted 43 of her 45 shots as Team Bath continued to pull away, going 39-25 up at half-time and stretching their advantage to 56-37 in the third quarter before wrapping up an emphatic victory.

“Kim was sensational on Saturday, both in terms of creativity and her shooting,” Stembridge added. “A 96 per cent conversion rate is outstanding and she demonstrated great leadership at critical times as well.”

It was Team Bath’s third away win of the season and they will be looking to maintain that perfect record on the road when they visit the University of Essex to face fourth-placed Mavericks, who were edged out 54-50 by table-topping Wasps on Monday.

“There has always been a great rivalry between Team Bath and Mavericks over the years and some memorable matches,” said Stembridge.

“We have done our homework and will be looking to put out a well thought-out game plan for the full 60 minutes. Mavericks are creative and athletic in attack and are rangy and deceptive in defence, so we will have to be smart with our approach. We’re looking forward to the match, it should be a good contest.”

Team Bath’s next two home matches – against Wasps on February 22 and Manchester Thunder on March 1 – have sold out but tickets are available for the five other scheduled fixtures at the Team Bath Arena. Visit netball.teambath.com/fixtures for more information.

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!

Sophie Drakeford-Lewis Lboro 2018

Team Bath Netball back on the road

Team Bath Netball return to Vitality Netball Superleague action following their weather-enforced break on Saturday when they visit old rivals Loughborough Lightning (6pm).

The teams sit fourth and fifth in the table, level on six points although Lightning have played a game more following the postponement of Team Bath’s home match against Severn Stars last week following heavy snow.

Lightning, who are coached by former Blue & Gold star Sara Bayman, have had a mixed start to the season but have won both of their home matches so far, including Saturday’s impressive 60-49 victory over Strathclyde Sirens.

Team Bath won on their last visit to the Sir David Wallace Sports Hall, in the final match before last year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and will be keen to bounce back quickly from a home defeat to Surrey Storm on their last outing.

Jess Thirlby, Team Bath Netball Head Coach, said: “We have had some memorable encounters against Loughborough Lightning over the years, dating right back to the very early days of the Superleague.

“They have finished as runners-up in each of the last two seasons and while they have had some changes in personnel, including the departure of shooter Peace Proscovia to Australia, we know it is going to be another tough encounter this weekend.

“We’ve had a really positive week in training and are looking forward to getting back out on court and righting the wrongs of our performance against Storm.”

Meanwhile, tickets have sold out for Team Bath’s next home game against defending champions Wasps Netball on Friday, February 22 and just a handful remain for the visit of Manchester Thunder on Friday, March 1 (7.30pm). Visit netball.teambath.com/fixtures to purchase tickets.

Tickets are also 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!

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05: Sasha Corbin of Mavericks in action during the match between Saracens Mavericks and Manchester Thunder during the Vitality Netball Superleague Super 10 at Arena Birmingham on January 5, 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for England Netball)

Inspired attacking display secures back-to-back wins for Mavs

Saracens Mavericks produced a scintillating display of attacking prowess to overcome a battling Loughborough Lightning 64-51 and move into the top four of the Vitality Netball Superleague table.

A sold-out Hertfordshire Sports Village welcomed the Mavericks onto home court for the first time this season and they were treated to a thrilling encounter which saw goals flying in from all angles, intercepts taken across the court and a bruising, well-contested battle.

Despite a few unforced errors creeping into their play, the hosts were on top during the opening quarter with Jo Trip and Georgia Lees taking advantage of excellent cross-court pressure to win turnover ball.

George Fisher and Kadeen Corbin were combining well in the circle and finishing with deadly accuracy. A conversion rate of 94% saw Mavericks take a 17-12 lead.

The momentum was with the home side and they had Lightning rattled in the opening exchanges of Q2 with the combination of Lees and Fisher connecting superbly. To the delight of the crowd, the advantage was quickly at 11 goals.

In the defensive end Razia Quashie had a huge job on her hands with the visiting GS Mary Cholhok having a substantial height advantage.

At 6ft 7” the Ugandan shooter was the obvious target for Loughborough attacks, but the Roses defender was reading the play expertly to disrupt feeds into the circle.

At half-time Mavericks were 35-24 ahead.

An unchanged seven took to the court for the second half but it was Lightning who came out of the changing rooms the stronger.

A fired-up visiting side were adding physicality to their game and forced several errors to erode the hosts’ lead.

Kat Ratnapala responded by introducing fresh legs onto the court with Lindsay Keable taking over at GD and Trip shuffled to WD.

The intensity of the game was apparent in the amount of stoppages taken to clean up sweat from the court after several players tumbled over contesting for possession.

With the game becoming a little stop-start, Mavericks were able to wrestle back some control and restrict scoring opportunities for the away team. However, at the end of the third quarter, the lead had been trimmed to seven goals; 44-37.

The nerves from the home crowd were being felt on court as Loughborough scored a couple of early goals in the final fifteen minutes to move within five.

Calm heads were required, and the experience of Sasha Corbin shone through as she led the charge on turnover and combined well with sister Kadeen to keep the Mavericks score ticking over.

With time running down, Lightning were becoming increasingly desperate, allowing Lees an additional half yard of space to take advantage with several wonderful feeds into the waiting hands of Fisher.

There was just about time for one final whistle-beating goal from Fisher to secure a second win of the season for Mavericks.

It was match in which the home side had to show their battling qualities and real resilience to hold off a fightback from a strong Lightning side.

Reflecting on the result, head coach Kat Ratnapala said:

“There is no better feeling than playing in front of a sold out home crowd and the support on Friday night was electric. We were still looking for a performance to be proud of and knew that Loughborough, despite changes in their lineup are a solid team with several talented ex Mavericks players such as Oyesola & Clark and newly recruited 6ft7 Ugandan International Mary Cholhok.

We are still building as a squad and for 3 quarters, I was pleased with the intensity and attention to detail, unfortunately we had a drop-in momentum in the 3rd but was pleased with the players ability to bounce back & push on in the final quarter. Standout performances from Fisher, K Corbin and Quashie but Lees really impressed with her tenacity, perseverance & cool calm collectiveness throughout the game.”

Saracens Mavericks are next in action on Monday 4 February when they visit Celtic Dragons.

The next home fixture will be a highly anticipated showdown against a Team Bath side led by Serena Guthrie on Saturday 16 February. This game will be played at the University of Essex in Colchester and tickets are available here.

Tickets are also 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!

Loughborough v Saracens

Lightning suffer away defeat

Loughborough Lightning took home a difficult defeat on Saturday night after a physical battle on the road with Saracens Mavericks clinching the 54 – 41 win in round three of the Vitality Netball Superleague.

The match started with a fairly even playing surface, Ugandan Shooter Mary Cholhok claimed her first Superleague start, whilst Lightning veterans Clark, Panagarry and Joseph continued to claim the starting mid-court spots. Facing an equally experienced side with England Roses sisters Sasha and Kadeen Corbin feeding directly into two-time superleague champion shooter Georgie Fisher.

Eager to impress their home fans for their first home match of the season, newly named Saracens Mavericks got off to a flying start, claiming the first four goals. But Lightning were soon making their mark in the game closing the gap. With both circle defenders keeping close to Cholhok, in an attempt to disrupt Joseph’s drop balls, it was up to Clark to sink the first shots against her old side.

End of Q1: Loughborough Lightning 12 – 17 Saracens Mavericks

Beginning the second quarter with the same line-up Lightning were wide awake and ready to rewrite the opening fifteen minutes and get themselves on top of the home side. With both teams increasing the speed and physicality, much to the delight of the sold-out home crowd, every single ball was fought tooth and nail to be kept in possession. Fancy footwork from Cholhok and dominance in the D from Oyesola and Keenan saw Lightning double their points before the half-time break.

Half-time: Loughborough Lightning 24 – 35 Saracens Mavericks

Moving Panagarry to WD and bringing on Shaw to centre, Lightning needed to muster all their remaining energy to turn the fate of the game around in the second half. The physicality and aggression on court ramped up yet again and both sides sought every opportunity to wreak havoc and disrupt the flow of the game. Their best quarter of the game saw Lightning close the gap to just four goals with 5 minutes left in the quarter.

End of Q3: Loughborough Lightning 37 – 44 Saracens Mavericks

A huge fifteen minutes stood between Lightning and the end as the final quarter got underway. An unchanged Lightning side mustered all they could to once again close the gap to just four however a series of mistakes opened up the opportunity Mavericks were looking for to run away with the ball and widen the gap once and for all to seal the win.

Full-time: Loughborough Lightning 51 – 64 Saracens Mavericks

Head Coach Sara Bayman was keen to highlight the game’s positives, despite the final score;

“I think today was frustrating because we did some really good stuff but we gave too much ball away. We knew today was going to be tough, Mavericks have been named one of the favourites this season but we also knew we had the game and determination to match them. I think we proved that in parts tonight but I think if you give a quality side like Mavs too much opportunity they’re going to use it to their advantage and run away with it as they did tonight.”

Regardless of the extreme physicality of the game, causing multiple cautions for both sides, Bayman was pleased with the effort put in from her side;

“I think Ella Clark had a really strong game, our defensive unit grew throughout the game seeing Vicki and Tuaine coming out with a lot of ball towards the end. Our mid-court generally just grafted which we wanted from this game but I think across the board everyone needs to take individual responsibility for their own errors tonight.”

Looking ahead to next week’s fixture, Bayman cited Sirens new signing as their secret weapon;

“I think Sirens is an exciting one as they’ve improved massively from last year and I think they’ll upset a few teams this season. They’ve got a massive target shooter in terms of Cat Tuivaiti so we’re going to need to win ball a bit earlier up the court. Hopefully, we can fix a few things in training this week and go into next week feeling confident.”

Lightning are back in action next weekend on home turf as they welcome Strathclyde Sirens to Loughborough University. The match will form part of the Pink Party event where we’ll be aiming to raise as much money as we can for Cancer Research UK. Fans are encouraged to wear pink and come early to join in all the games and activities before the main event at 6pm.

Tickets are selling fast so secure yours now: www.loughboroughlightning.com

Photo credit: Loughborough University