Strathclyde Sirens Vs Severn Stars

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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!

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05: Activity 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)

Dominant Thunder outplay Sirens

Manchester Thunder were dominant from the first whistle as they flew straight out of the blocks in the first quarter, taking the lead from an early stage.  They displayed control and speed under persistent pressure from Sirens who looked confident in attack with Cat Tuivaiti at the helm.

Thunder demonstrated composure from the first quarter, Caroline O’Hanlon and Laura Malcolm showcasing some first-rate combinations.  The two fed the shooters well throughout and O’Hanlon was, unsurprisingly, dubbed Player of the Match by Tracey Neville, who was in attendance at Belle Vue.

Sirens struggled to get into the game during the first half and, despite the efforts of Gia Abernethy and Claire Maxwell, they were unable to find an opening to release Cat Tuivaiti.

Sirens scrambled and there were moments of brilliance from Tuivaiti, much to the delight of the crowd.  Including one spectacular ‘over the head’ pass, her trademark trick since Super 10.

Despite the fact that Thunder have had to wait three weeks since their last outing, there were no signs of rust and the Black and Yellows established a solid lead in the second half.

Ellie Cardwell enjoyed a spell at GA as well as GS, impressing during her time on court under the watchful eyes of England coach Tracey Neville.

Joyce Mvula relished in her freedom in the D, provided to her by O’Hanlon and Malcolm.  Her prowess under the post shining through.

Karen Greig was able to experiment with some combinations as the match rolled on, trialling Rebekah Airey at both WD and GK.

Sirens tried to edge their way back into the game in the final quarter, searching for something out of the game.  But hopes of a comeback had faded and with Tuivaiti taken off with a possible knock to the knee, Thunder were able to cement a solid lead.

Although it did not feel like a thrashing at the time, Thunder displayed confidence and composure on and off the ball, despite the Sirens defensive strength.  They were able to capitalise on Sirens’ mistakes at one end of the court and reap the rewards at the other.

Sirens’ 45 goals, a winning score on another day, was overshadowed by Thunder’s impressive 70.  The Black and Yellows were dominant in all areas of the court and their persistence paid off, placing a tick in the second box of the 2019 season campaign.

Thunder face Superleague newbies London Pulse next, hoping to make it three out of three wins so far this season.  Grab your tickets here: http://bit.ly/thundervpulse

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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Q&A: Sirens’ Claire Maxwell and Cat Tuivaiti

Strathclyde Sirens blazed their trail onto the Vitality Netball Superleague scene two years ago and are out to shake things up in 2019.

They laid down a marker at Super 10 with an impressive 56-38 victory over Surrey Storm before suffering a 55-45 defeat to five-time champions Team Bath in Round 2.

We caught up with Claire Maxwell and Cat Tuivaiti to talk female icons, their thoughts on the team’s strengths and the Vitality Netball World Cup.

Who are your female icons and why?

Claire: I love Serena Williams because I feel like she’s a strong female in the world. She’s very powerful, very dominant and she does it in her own way as well. She’s had some hard press in her life and she’s pushed through and she’s determined and she’s the best in the world at what she does.

Cat: There’s a New Zealand shot putter called Valerie Adams, she’s very successful. I think I admire her a lot because I couldn’t possibly imagine being in a sport where you only had yourself. I think I spend a lot of time leaning on my teammates and management and everyone else. She’s been in a solo sport for so long and been so successful, she’s overcome some pretty big barriers and she’s been the best at her craft for around 10 years so I admire everything about her, she’s pretty incredible.

What do you think your team’s main strengths are?

Claire: We’ve got that grit and determination that’s never short of our game and I think it’s part of our trademark so you know whoever we’re against we’re going to fight for that ball for the full 60 and never give up and I’m really proud that that’s one of our key strengths as a team.

What are your expectations for the team?

Cat: I think I hold learning quite high on the list. I think there are some very young girls coming through and a number of Scottish players which is really good for Scottish netball at the moment with the Vitality Netball World Cup coming up as well. We just want to rock the boat, we want to shake up the competition a little bit – it’s going to happen.

With the Vitality Netball World Cup fast approaching, what impact will this have on the league?

Claire: The league is getting bigger and bigger in terms of the amount of people that are actually watching our sport and taking note of it, which is fantastic. There are so many people who come for the first time and then they love it which they don’t expect to do which I think is such a thing about our sport. Something we can be really proud of is that we take people by surprise with how athletic it is so the audience is growing and growing. I think that’s going to become even more evident at the Vitality Netball World Cup and with so many players bidding for a World Cup place – whether it’s in the England team, ourselves, etc. – you know it’s going to make it one of the best leagues in the world.

Get your tickets for the Vitality Netball Superleague Big Easter Weekend!

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Strathclyde Sirens lose to Team Bath

With over 1200 spectators showing up at the Emirates Arena for Strathclyde Sirens first home game of the season, the 45-55 score-line and win to Team Bath was a tough one to take by the Glasgow side.

After some back and forth action following Strathclyde Siren’s first centre pass, Tuivaiti was the first to put a point on the board on home soil. Q1 saw some connected phases of play between Gallagher and Tuivaiti in the circle, Maxwell and Mulheron working so hard in defence that they almost took each other out, and a full team effort to shut down the opposition’s options across the court, however it was Team Bath that was able to capitalise on their turnovers leading the score-line to 9-14.

 

Team Bath kickstarted Q2 with quickfire passes and a goal. Strathclyde Sirens fans witnessed the first of Tuivaiti’s flair with a fake, no look pass across the shooting circle to Gallagher, much to the spectator’s delight. Team Bath had a tight zone defence which meant that Strathclyde Sirens lost some ball due to some forced passes. However, Strathclyde Sirens were able to seek out some gaps in Bath’s zone to reduce a 9-goal gap to 6 just before the half time whistle, 23-29.

It was all to play for in the second half. Bath gain a couple of points on the board before Strathclyde Sirens added to their goal count. Tensions began to rise, where we saw plenty of tussle underneath the post at both ends of the court. It was clear that both Strathclyde Sirens and Team Bath were determined to bag the VNSL Round 2 win, and Bath maintained their lead heading into the final quarter, 34-41.

Gallagher and Tuivaiti won the crowds over in the first couple of minutes with continued and steady shooting. The atmosphere in the Arena was electric as the full team pulled together to close the gap to 2 goals with 8 minutes on the clock. However, Team Bath continued to edge out and give Strathclyde Sirens little chance to contest for the ball. In the end, it was not Strathclyde Siren’s night with Team Bath taking the win, 45-55 for the first time in Glasgow.

Player of the Match Lynsey Gallagher said: “It was great to be at home tonight, but it was frustrating not to come away with the win. I’m proud of the team for not giving up, and to bring it back to 2 in that last quarter was brilliant, just disappointing that in the last 7-8 Team Bath broke away again to take the win.

 Coming off the back of last week we were on such a high, but we’ll head back to the drawing board, determine areas we need to work on and build and go in to the next one raring to go.”

Starting 7: GS Tuivaiti, GA Gallagher, WA McCleery, C Maxwell, WD Abernethy, GD Mulheron, GK Gibbons.

Subs: Nicholl, Boyle, Goodwin, McCall, McPhail

Image credit: Eliza Morgan