Strathclyde Sirens 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!

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Wasps Netball maintain unbeaten record

Wasps Netball came through a tough test with a 54-50 win against title challengers Saracens Mavericks.

Mel Mansfield’s team trailed in the second-quarter and resisted a late comeback from Mavericks to secure their fourth successive victory.

Sophia Candappa was named Player of the Match for the first time in her career.

Mansfield said: “We knew this was going to be our toughest test yet and it was exactly that.

“We’ve had strong third-quarters in each of our last three games and that shined through again.

“In training we have been working hard on our fitness levels and maintaining performance levels.

“When we took the lead in the third-quarter I didn’t feel like we were going to fall behind again.

“Having a tight game like this will be really good for us, the team will have learnt a lot about themselves tonight.”

George Fisher opened the scoring for the hosts on her return to Ricoh Arena but Katie Harris levelled the score within seconds.

A flying intercept from Hannah Knights proved an early highlight, as the home side built toward a six-goal lead.

Mavericks worked their back into the game with ease and were soon within one goal, through some strong play from Sasha Corbin.

Both sides continued to go goal-for-goal until the end of the first-quarter, with Wasps maintaining a slender one-goal advantage.

Mavericks started the second-quarter quickly and took the lead through strong shooting from Kadeen Corbin and supported by a series of turnovers from the home side.

The visitors were faster to every ball over the next five minutes and built a five-goal advantage.

A defensive stop from Wasps Goal Keeper Sam May swung momentum and her side capitalised with back-to-back quickfire goals to bring Wasps level at half-time.

Candappa took to the court for the third-quarter and made an immediate impact, helping the Black and Golds to three unanswered goals.

Wasps pressed their advantage over the next eight minutes – despite physical defending from the visitors attempting to disrupt the hosts’ attacking flow.

The combination of Harris and Rachel Dunn proved unmatchable, exchanging quick passes to work around the Mavericks defence and growing an eight-goal lead.

Fran Williams impressed in the final-quarter against her England teammates Kadeen Corbin and Fisher.

Mavericks surged back and were soon within four, with only Dunn’s immaculate shooting keeping Wasps in front.

But Mansfield’s side managed to hold off the visitors and come away 54-50 winners.

Wasps Netball’s next fixture will see them face Celtic Dragons at Sport Wales National Centre on Monday 18 February (7pm centre-pass).

Attendance: 1,070

Player of the match: Sophia Candappa

Q1: 15-14
Q2: 27-27
Q3: 43-36
Q4: 54-50

Wasps starting seven: GK Sam May; GD Hannah Knights; WD Amy Flanagan; C Jade Clarke; WA Bongi Msomi; GA Katie Harris; GS Rachel Dunn

Used substitutes: Sophia Candappa (WA); Fran Williams (GD)

Mavericks starting seven: GK Razia Quashie; GD Jo Trip; WD Michelle Drayne; C Sasha Corbin; WA Georgia Lees; GA Kadeen Corbin; GS George Fisher

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!

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Third quarter key for Thunder

Manchester Thunder stunned Severn Stars with a third quarter domination to win 49-62 – but made hard work of it at The Worcester Arena.

The first quarter was almost like watching a game of tennis as both sides consistently traded turnovers, neither making use of their centre pass possession. Eleanor Cardwell earned herself a starting spot at goal shooter after an impressive display against Pulse earlier in the week, however, feeders Liana Leota and Caroline O’Hanlon struggled to find the shooter’s range early on.

The Stars defence were keeping the Thunder shooters quiet with Jodi-Ann Ward given the task of marking Kathryn Turner. At the first quarter break, Thunder just edged the lead by a solitary goal 12-13.

Head Coach Karen Greig kept faith with the same seven for the start of the second quarter after a few home truths during the break. After nine minutes with the scores level, she’d seen enough and brought on Joyce Mvula at goal shooter with Cardwell moving to goal attack. The changes had an immediate impact and Thunder moved through the gears to quickly build a seven-goal lead by the half time whistle 22-29.

Thunder continued to gain momentum in the third, Malcolm coming on at wing defence had an impact while Greig tried a new option at centre with Carter moving up the court. Stars had no answer to Mvula as she dominated the shooting circle. Almond had to be replaced by Rebekah Airey towards the end of the quarter due to a blood injury but Thunder kept the scoreboard ticking over consistently and built up a lead of 17 by the end of the third quarter going into the final break – 33-50.

For the final quarter, Airey moved to goal defence replacing the ever-present Dovey while Turner returned to the goal attack position. Stars flew out of the blocks for the final quarter putting three quick goals on the board, while Thunder seemed to be admiring their lead. Thunder missed the speed of O’Hanlon through the middle as the game went on, but were able to try out several combinations giving valuable court time to the squad. With the Thunder bench barking instructions the partnership of Almond and Airey grew in confidence and the defensive unit started to shut down the options for Stars.

Head Coach Karen Greig said: “We were slow out of the blocks and our timing was off, we were slack on attacking the ball and our placement. We had to change something as we brought Joyce on and moved Eleanor out to goal attack and it made the impact we needed at that point. It enabled us to pull away at the end of the second quarter”

“We had a great third quarter, it has been our bogey quarter in the last few games, we really stepped up the pressure. Amy Carter had a good game at both wing defence and centre and really shut down their play. We were just wasteful in attack, which is really disappointing to see and a really disappointing last quarter when we should have seen out the game comfortably.”

“We need to look at our connections in training this week as our game against Loughborough next week is not going to be an easy one.”

Thunder Starting 7:
GS Cardwell, GA Turner, WA Leota C O’Hanlon WD Carter GD Dovey GK Almond.
Bench: Airey, Malcolm, McAndrew, Mvula, Thomas

Severn Stars Starting 7:
GS Rowe, GA Holzthausen WA Darroch C Harris WD Powell-Davies GD Ward GK Cook
Bench: Adio, Gabriel, Moseley, O’Dwyer, Muskwe

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!

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Dragons win thriller in Glasgow

Celtic Dragons returned to winning ways on their away trip to Glasgow in what was a knife-edge encounter.

Those in attendance were treated to a breathless display of physicality and flair with both teams firing themselves at every ball and where the winner would be decided on the fine margins of successful feeds into the circle.

Both sides came out with plenty of focus in the initial stages of the first quarter. Kalifa McCollin netted the first for Dragons and then it appeared that the visitors had turned over possession from Sirens’ first centre pass, only to cede the ball immediately again. It was, nevertheless, an early sign of intent from Dragons GK Stacian Facey who enjoyed possibly her finest outing of the 2019 campaign so far. There were no shortages of opportunities for Dragons as the quarter went on, with Dee Bolakoro making use of her long reach to win a tip which led to a Dragons score. Some errors did creep into the Dragons centre pass and it this allowed Sirens to grab an early advantage at the break.

In the second quarter, Clare Elsley came on for Kyra Jones at C as the Dragons looked to maintain discipline off their centre pass. By this time the home team were really getting stuck in and there were some fantastic contests for the ball with Nia Jones tumbling across the court in trademark fashion! Dragons did seem to tidy up and the visiting bench were jumping for joy as Stacian made two big intercepts in a matter of a minute to help the Dragons really get stuck in. A footwork call at 10 minutes stalled some of the Dragons momentum, but Chelsea Lewis and Kalifa McCollin combined for a perfect 10 from 10 to keep the score ticking over. The lead changed hands a few times in the period, but Sirens were no slouches and they kept a slender advantage at the half.

Kyra Jones returned to court for the third quarter and immediately displayed laser focus to make an early intercept. She led what appeared to be some far more patient Dragons drives up court as the team weathered some excellent play from the Sirens who went 3-up. Similarly, Suzy Drane took her time and was able to exploit some outstanding passing options as the Dragons took the lead once again. There were far fewer flying interceptions or acrobatic tips in this quarter, but rather the team were more focused on slowing down the Sirens run of play and causing their opponents to make their own mistakes. As a result, Dragons took their first quarter time lead of the match.

Going into the last quarter there were no visible signs of nerves as the squad remained composed under Nia’s leadership. Returning to court, the movement was patient, considered and Chelsea took good advantage of the opportunities she was afforded. That first clinical five minutes essentially won Dragons the game as Sirens and their vocal crowd came back fighting to try and steal a famous win. There were some unnecessary long balls thrown from the Dragons but Sirens were likewise guilty – a telegraphed passed found its way to Dee on the thirteenth minute and from there the away bench were able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Speaking after the match, Head Coach Tania Hoffman said: “It was a torrid match and could have gone either way! But I’m very pleased that the girls hung on in there and got intercepts when we really needed them.”

She added: “Again, we just need to hold onto the ball for a little bit longer. We just need to stick to our game plan and what works for us.”

Looking forward to Celtic Dragons next game, at home to Wasps on Monday 18 February, Hoffman spoke about the squad’s preparation. She said: “We’ve got a few trainings this week and it’s really about looking at what Wasps bring to the table and how we can counter that, but also working on the things we need to fix.”

Quarter Scores: 14-12 (14-12); 10-11 (24-23); 12-14 (36-37); 10-13 (46-50)

Celtic Dragons: GS Chelsea Lewis, GA Kalifa McCollin, WA Suzy Drane, C Kyra Jones, WD Nia Jones (capt), GD Dee Bolakoro, GK Stacian Facey. Replacements: Lucy Howells, Lucy Herdman, Abby Tyrrell, Clare Elsey, Eleanor Roberts.

Strathclyde Sirens: GS C Tuivati, GA L Gallagher, WA N McCleary, C C Maxwell, WD G Abernethy, GD E Nicholl and GK E Gibbons. Replacements: K Boyle, R Edgar, B Goodwin, N McCall and H Mulheron.

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!