Strathclyde Sirens Vs Severn Stars

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Stars v Sirens pre season - clivejonespr.com

Excitement building for Stars’ third campaign

Severn Stars Head Coach, Sam Bird, says expectations are high among her squad as they make their final preparations for a third season in the Vitality Netball Superleague.

Excitement is building with the season due to kick off early in the New Year, with Stars showing impressive form in pre-season, winning three out of their four matches.

Bird, who is returning for her second season at the helm, said: “I am pleased to have secured four pre-season matches against opposition that we will play in the League.  We have played a number of combinations and have been able to integrate new players with existing players.  Whilst we have performed well, all the squad have raised the bar in terms of expectations of ourselves and will be pushing harder in the New Year, motivated by the potential we have.”

England international Gibson, who was part of the Gold-medal winning Commonwealth Games side and also studies at the University of Worcester, said: “I am really excited by this squad.  There is no reason why we can’t make that top four and really challenge.  We have taken three wins from four and have lots of international experience to come in.  I can’t wait for the season to start.”

An early pre-season run-out resulted in a victory over former Superleague champions Surrey Storm.  Despite Stars missing several key players through international duty, injury and illness, Stars took the win 53-41 in Guildford.

Stars, a joint franchise between the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire, then came away with a narrow one point victory over Strathclyde Sirens at home in Worcester.   A young Stars side overcame the physical Scottish team and held out for an important 45-44 victory.  New Stars signing and England youth international, Paige Reed, remained cool throughout under the post.  At the other end, there was a stand-out performance from another new recruit and England youth international, Halimat Adio, who largely shut down the experienced New Zealand international goal shooter, Cat Tuivaiti.

Stars were then at the Copper Box Arena, in London, to complete pre-season matches with a tri-tournament against Celtic Dragons and London Pulse.  Despite missing Stars captain, Maryka Holtzhausen, away on international duty, and experienced defenders, Sam Cook and Jodie Gibson, Stars took a convincing win over Dragons 38-26.  In her first appearance for the side, new signing, Jamaican international, Jodi-Ann Ward, made an immediate impression, showing her speed and athleticism in turning over numerous balls.

Stars then took on the home side, London Pulse, in the decider.  With standout performances from Adio and Wales international, Georgia Rowe, a tight game went goal for goal right up until the final whistle, with Pulse ultimately taking the game 33-31.

Stars will kick off their Vitality Netball Superleague season on January 5, when all 10 teams will be playing at the Birmingham Arena, with Stars set to face new club London Pulse.  The first home game will be at the University of Gloucestershire Arena against Celtic Dragons on January 25, with the first game at the University of Worcester Arena on February 9 against Manchester Thunder.

To buy tickets or for more information visit www.severnstars.co.uk.

You can get tickets to watch all 10 teams in action at the Super 10 season opener here.

Image credit: clivejonespr.com 

Bath pre-season

Team Bath provide pre-season festive flourish

Team Bath looked in good shape ahead of the 2019 Vitality Superleague season as they followed up a 40-34 victory over Surrey Storm with a 46-32 defeat of benecosMavericks in the winner-takes-all third match at the Team Bath Arena.

Mavericks edged out Storm 48-46 in between those matches as all three teams served up an early Christmas treat for netball fans during a thoroughly entertaining afternoon.

It is the fourth successive year that Team Bath have won their pre-season tournament and co-captain Eboni Usoro-Brown was delighted that all 13 players in the Blue & Gold squad were able to play key roles in the victory.

“We’re really pleased and we can take great confidence from the way we played in both games into the season,” she said. “Every single player got on court, every single player contributed and some of our play today was phenomenal.

“Thank you to each and every one of the fans who came to watch today, it was great to see such massive support. We hope to see them packing out the stands throughout the 2019 season.”

Fellow Commonwealth champion Serena Guthrie, who was making her first appearance in Blue & Gold at the Team Bath Arena since returning a stellar spell in Australia and New Zealand, added: “It was good to get our final run-out going into the Christmas break. We’ve been working hard in training so to go out there today and see how we measure up in match-play was good.

“I love Bath, it’s a beautiful place, and I’ve missed it so it’s nice to be back. We have an awesome team and we’re trying to get over the line this year after just falling short in the semi-finals so it’s great to be a part of that journey.”

The tone for the afternoon was set during an entertaining opening match between Storm and the home side, who came out on top 40-34 in front of an 871-strong Team Bath Arena crowd and those watching online via BBC Sport.

They went goal for goal during a first quarter that finished all square at 10-10 and it was a similar story in the second period, with the teams locked at 18-18 before new Australian shooter Kim Commane notched three goals without reply to give Team Bath the advantage at the break.

Guthrie, who captained England during the recent test series victory over Uganda, was among a number of players introduced during a tight-fought third quarter that saw the hosts open up a 30-24 lead.

Storm were playing well, though, and cut the gap to two during the early stages of the final period but accurate shooting from Beryl Friday and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis helped the Blue and Gold – who gave all 13 players a run-out – pull away and secure the victory.

There were a number of familiar faces on court for the second match of the afternoon, with Mavericks featuring Corbin sisters Sasha and Kadeen – both former Team Bath players – and University of Bath Natural Sciences student Tash Pavelin in their starting line-up against a Storm squad featuring Bath graduates Yasmin Parsons and Nicole Humphreys.

Storm started brightly but Mavericks quickly found their stride to lead 10-7 at the end of the first quarter before extending their advantage to 22-16 with a fine performance in the second period.

Both teams contributed to an action-packed third quarter that saw 29 goals scored in ten minutes and Mavericks lead 37-30.

Storm may have been playing their second successive game but they continued to perform with great energy and won the final quarter 16-11 to cut Maverick’s margin of victory to 48-46.

That meant the final match between Team Bath and Mavericks would be decisive, and the home side were clearly determined to get the overall win as they produced a superb performance in the opening quarter.

They were dominant right across the court as they stormed into an 11-4 lead, with Usoro-Brown and Summer Artman – facing her former franchise – forging a strong defence with Imogen Allison.

Guthrie and Rachel Shaw were dynamic in mid-court, providing great service for the attacking duo of Drakeford-Lewis and Commane who have already struck up a slick combination.

Mavericks made a bright start and finish to the second period, scoring five goals without reply at one point, but Team Bath were shooting well and a goal on the buzzer from Drakeford-Lewis made it 21-14 at the interval.

Both teams rang the changes for the third quarter, with Guthrie returning at centre and Leila Thomas, Abi Robson, Amanda Varey and Friday coming on for the hosts. All had a huge impact on the game as Team Bath extended their advantage to 35-22 with another excellent display.

Laura Rudland and Mia Ritchie came on in the final quarter to help the Blue & Gold pull even further clear and wrap up a 46-32 victory.

Team Bath Netball Head Coach Jess Thirlby said: “It’s a bit of a cliché amongst coaches but one of the key things we look for is consistency and it was really good to see us not lose any of our eight quarters.

“We can be proud of our performances today and thank you to Mavericks and Storm for providing such great competition.”

Season and match-day tickets are on sale now for the 2019 Vitality Superleague campaign, with the first match at the Team Bath Arena – on Monday, January 28 – also involving Surrey Storm.

The season begins on Saturday, January 5 with a Super 10 event at the NEC in Birmingham featuring all of the Superleague franchises, starting with Team Bath’s match against Celtic Dragons at 11am.

You can get tickets to watch all 10 teams in action at the Super 10 season opener here.

Image credit: Bryn Vaile for Matchtight

TeamBath Netball 2018 - Bailbrook House 
07/12/18
www.claregreenphotography.com

Team Bath deliver early Christmas present

The annual Blue and Gold tri-tournament – taking place at the Team Bath Arena on Saturday 15 December – will, for a second successive year, be broadcast to a national audience on the BBC Sport website and app.

The full event, which sees an exciting new-look Team Bath squad take on benecosMavericks and Surrey Storm, will then be available to watch in full on the BBC iPlayer for the following 30 days.

Team Bath Netball Head Coach Jess Thirlby said: “It is fantastic to be working with the BBC again to provide netball with such a great platform ahead of what is sure to be a memorable 2019.

“Not only do we have what looks set to be an ultra-competitive Vitality Superleague season to look forward to in the New Year but there is the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, which is also being shown live on BBC Sport.

“The tri-tournament is an important stage of our pre-season preparations, giving us a final opportunity to try out combinations in a competitive match-day environment against top-quality opposition before the Superleague begins in January.

The tri-tournament, which gets under way at 2pm, will be a first run-out at the Team Bath Arena in four years for England superstar Serena Guthrie following her high-profile return to the Blue & Gold after a stellar spell in New Zealand and Australia.

She will be joined on court by fellow Commonwealth Games champion Eboni Usoro-Brown, one of a number of experienced senior players in the squad along with Mia Ritchie and Rachel Shaw.

Summer Artman, Laura Rudland and Amanda Varey are back in Blue & Gold after spells away, while it is a first opportunity for Wales international Leila Thomas and Australian duo Beryl Friday and Kim Commane to experience playing in front of the Team Bath crowd.

Completing the Sitec-sponsored squad are the exciting young talents of Imogen Allison, Chartie Curtis, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis and Abi Robson.

There will be some familiar faces amongst the opposition on Saturday, with Mavericks including the Corbin sisters – Kadeen and Sasha – in their squad along with University of Bath Natural Sciences student Tash Pavelin, who is on a year-long placement.

University of Bath graduates Nicole Humphreys and Yasmin Parsons, both of whom have played in Superleague for the Blue & Gold, are in the Surrey Storm squad.

Doors open at 1pm on Saturday and the BBC coverage, featuring Jennie Gow as lead commentator, begins at 1.55pm. Team Bath face Storm in the opening match at 2pm, then Storm take on Mavericks at 3.15pm before an action-packed afternoon concludes with the Blue & Gold against Mavericks at 4.30pm.

The live stream will be available by clicking here.

Remaining tickets for the tri-tournament are available at netball.teambath.com along with tickets for the 2019 Superleague and a new range of merchandise.

Tri-tournament squads for Saturday

Team Bath Netball: Imogen Allison, Summer Artman, Kim Commane, Chartie Curtis, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Beryl Friday, Serena Guthrie, Abi Robson, Mia Ritchie, Laura Rudland, Rachel Shaw, Leila Thomas, Eboni Usoro-Brown, Amanda Varey.

benecosMavericks: Karyn Bailey, Steph Collard, Kadeen Corbin, Sasha Corbin, Beth Ecuyer Dale, George Fisher, Georgia Lees, Lindsay Keable, Gabby Marshall, Dani McFarlane, Lauren Nicholls, Tash Pavelin.

Surrey Storm: Mikki Austin, Sigi Burger, Jessica Dale, Rhea Dixon, Leah Goss, Emily Gulvin, Yasmin Hodge England, Katy Holland, Nicole Humphreys, Lorraine Koweleska, Laura Morton, Yasmin Parsons, Emily Porter, Alima Priest.

Photo credit: Clare Green for Matchtight

Pre-Season-Loughborough-2

Thunder beat Lightning in pre-season clash

Manchester Thunder launched their new season with two convincing victories over the Knights Men 85-69 and Loughborough Lightning 64-52.

The Knights Men, a team who regularly play a friendlies against Superleague and Premier League teams, offer a different dynamic of opposition and a good physical test. Thunder’s shooters Joyce Mvula and Eleanor Cardwell stood up to the test and alongside Kathryn Turner they kept the scoreboard ticking over at a good rate.

Captain Emma Dovey had a particularly feisty contest in the defensive circle and led the way for Thunder’s first victory of the day. After the game the Thunder fans flocked onto the court for a meet and greet opportunity with the players, who signed everything from netballs to t-shirts while engaging with their loyal fans.

Next in line were Loughborough Lightning, last season’s beaten finalists, but now with a new look team and former Thunder favourite Sara Bayman at the helm. Shooter Amy Clinton has also made the switch to the purple and white as a replacement for the Australia-bound Peace Proscovia.

It was a lightning start for Loughborough who stormed to an early three goal lead as it took Thunder a while to settle. It wasn’t long before Kathryn Turner’s calming influence took effect and she combined well with the impressive looking Liana Leota and Mvula to set the scoreboard ticking over. Thunder took the first quarter 15-9.

For the second quarter coach Karen Greig introduced the returning Eleanor Cardwell who was impressive with her strength and movement in the circle. Thunder debutant Amelia Hall made her bow at wing attack and looks a great acquisition for the future with a solid display. Amy Clinton made a difference for Lightning and started slotting the goals away for Lightning as they closed the gap to go in 29-25 at half time.

Another youngster and pathway product, Elia McCormick, made her debut coming on at goal defence in the third quarter. Thunder produced another good scoring quarter showing the changes were not having an impact on consistency. Thunder once again extended their lead finishing the third quarter eight goals in the lead 46-38.

The final quarter saw the debut of former Lightning defender Rebekah Airey as both teams consolidated  to take the final score to 64-52 in the favour of Thunder.

The new season will certainly present Greig with a selection headache, with competition for places all over the court, but what a problem to have. Thunder looked impressive and the foundations of combinations look incredibly strong. With record season ticket sales, it is certainly looking like Thunder fans will be in for an entertaining season of high quality netball and no doubt more fans will be snapping them up after today’s displays.

Greig commented: “It was great to get out on court for our first competitive games giving me the opportunity to see where the players are at and work on the different combinations. Thanks to both the Knights Men and Lightning for giving us tough competition on the day. It was great to be back in action in front of the noisy Thunder fans.”

Squad: Joyce Mvula, Eleanor Cardwell, Kathryn Turner, Ally Thomas, Liana Leota, Amelia Hall, Beccy Hoult, Caroline O’Hanlon, Amy Carter, Laura Malcolm, Rebekah Airey, Emma Dovey, Kerry Almond, Elia McCormick

See Manchester Thunder and Loughborough Lightning in action at Super 10 – get your squad together and head to the season opener on Saturday 5th January 2019 at Arena Birmingham!