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Severn Stars look to bounce back against Surrey Storm

Severn Stars will look to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat when they take on Surrey Storm on Saturday (16 February).

The Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) side will be playing their second home game at the University of Gloucestershire Sports Arena (6pm centre pass), with another sell-out crowd expected.

Stars’ were left frustrated when they lost to Manchester Thunder at the University of Worcester Arena last Saturday (9 February) by 49-62. Head Coach, Sam Bird, has been working on a number of strategies during training this week to put in a successful performance in front of a home crowd.

Severn Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, said: “We will be looking to expand the periods of very good play we put out against Manchester Thunder on Saturday. We have been working on our strategies to give ourselves the best chance to perform strongly against Storm and we are looking forward to the match.

“The last game at Gloucester was great in terms of the crowd being very close to the courtside and creating a great atmosphere for us to play in. We hope to use the home support to our advantage this week.”

Bird added: “Both teams have South African import players so will be familiar with the style of play and each other’s preferred way to play.”

The Severn Stars are a joint franchise between the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire.

For tickets visit 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!

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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!

Maryka Holtzhausen 1 - clivejonespr.com

Patience is Key, Says Severn Stars’ Captain

Severn Stars’ Captain, Maryka Holtzhausen, says patience will be key as her team looks for its second win of the season, when they take on Manchester Thunder this weekend.

The South African star, who missed the first two games due to international duties in the Quad Series, made a winning return in her first game back, against Celtic Dragons.

Holtzhausen says for the team to continue their winning ways against second-placed side Thunder, on Saturday (February 9, 6pm), they must be patient in both attack and defence.

“Our match against Thunder will be a good challenge for us,” she said.  “They are a team who have been playing together for a long time. One of their strengths is their patience with the ball on attack and relentless defence.

“Patience is key for us – on attack and defence. On attack we will need to keep possession, no matter how hard we need to work to get it to goal, and on defence we will need to be patient, trusting our structure and work hard till we turn ball over.”

This will be Stars’ second home game of the season, and its first at the University of Worcester Arena, its home venue for the last two seasons.  This year matches are being played at both the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire, who co-own the franchise

After snow saw last week’s match against Team Bath postponed, Stars will be hoping to pick up where they left off two weeks ago, when they sealed their first win of the season against Celtic Dragons 57-40, at the University of Gloucestershire Arena.  Thunder will come to the game full of confidence too, having won all three of their matches so far this season.

“We’re excited to be back at the University of Worcester Arena, and hoping to get a win for the fans there as well,” said Holtzhausen. “There is a great atmosphere in the squad, especially after a great home win. And having our match against Bath postponed due to snow has really got us excited about getting out there again.

“Although we would like to have played last week that is how it is. We can only be positive about it and see it as an extra week of training to improve in all areas of our game plan. I can’t wait to get out there for our next match though.”

She added that, in order to back up their first win, Stars were continually looking to improve.

She said: “It’s great to train in such a positive environment.  Obviously there are still many things we would like to improve on and be better at going into the next game, but we are working on doing those things better in training every week.  I believe a good aim is continued improvement, sticking to structures and implementing the game plan each week. If we stick to what we do best the results will speak for themselves.”

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

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!

Severn Stars v Celtic Dragons 2 - clivejonespr.com

Stars aiming to secure first away points

Severn Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, says her team wants to prove they can perform away from home, as the players prepare to face Team Bath on the road.

Stars are looking to follow up their impressive victory against Celtic Dragons in their first home game of the season with a win away in Bath on Friday (February 1, 7.30pm).

Despite some close results in the first two rounds of the Vitality Netball Superleague away from home, Stars are still chasing their first away points of the season.

“The win last week was well deserved for the squad, but we do want to show that we can perform away from home as well,” said Bird.  “We have had a good hard week at training and the connections between the players are improving each week.”

Bird is anticipating a significant challenge at the Team Bath Arena against last year’s fourth placed team, who have two wins under their belts already this season, but lost on Monday to Surrey Storm.

“We are looking forward to playing Bath,” she said.  “They had a surprise loss to Surrey Storm on Monday night so they will be looking to rectify those errors against us.”

Stars were inspired to victory by Captain Maryka Holtzhausen’s return from international duty when they took on Welsh side Dragons last week.

Extending their lead in every quarter of the match, the team, which is a joint franchise between the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire, finished the tie 57-40 winners.

“It was great to get a home win, but there is still more to improve on,” said Bird.  “The table shows that everyone has now won a match and that there are no easy games in the Superleague this year. I was pleased with the starting seven, but also the changes that we made worked well. In our third season I think we finally have a strong bench with which to make tactical changes.”

For tickets to Stars’ next home game, at the University of Worcester Arena, against Manchester Thunder on February 9 (6pm), visit www.ticketline.co.uk/netball-superleague-severn-stars#bio.

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!

Image credit: clivejonespr.com