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!

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 

twitter-In-Stream_Wide___bath storm 4

Team Bath vow to learn lessons from Storm defeat

There was disappointment for Team Bath Netball in their first home match of the 2019 Vitality Superleague season as they were beaten 56-50 by Surrey Storm on Monday.

The Blue & Gold had gone into the televised game on the back of two away wins but struggled to find their rhythm against a well-drilled Storm side who were more clinical going forward and deservedly recorded their first victory of the season.

Team Bath Netball Superleague Head Coach Anna Stembridge said: “We knew Storm would provide a tough test and for me I don’t think we physically manned up to the challenge well enough. We got a bit clunky at times taking the ball through to goal but credit to Storm for doing their homework and putting us under pressure.

“At times we put their attack under pressure and got clean turnover but we didn’t capitalise on it and we definitely were not at our best. We’ll make sure we take the lessons from this into Friday’s game against Severn Stars.”

Player of the Match Rachel Shaw added: “I think the problems started in the first quarter when we gave the ball away a few times and gave Storm confidence but there were still plenty of positives to take out of the game and we’ll look to bounce back quickly.”

England international Eboni Usoro-Brown was ruled out of the match, which was sponsored by King Edward’s School, as a precaution after picking up a knock during the recent Quad Series.

That meant University of Bath student Chartie Curtis started at GD, as she had in the last match at Strathclyde Sirens, and she did well alongside Summer Artman during a first quarter that saw momentum ebb and flow as both teams forced a number of turnovers and errors.

Team Bath raced into a 3-0 lead, then found themselves 8-6 down before regaining the initiative to draw level at 10-10. A late push saw the hosts restore their three-goal advantage but a goal on the buzzer from Sigi Burger cut the Blue and Gold’s quarter lead to 14-12.

It continued to be nip and tuck in the second period as the teams traded goals but also missed chances. Storm eventually began to find more composure in attack and when they edged into the lead, Team Bath made a change as Beryl Friday replaced fellow Australian Kim Commane at goal-shooter.

She quickly found her feet, converting her first three shots, but South African shooter Burger – who linked brilliantly with Rhea Dixon – was equally ruthless at the other end as Storm opened up a 28-26 lead at half-time.

It was the first quarter that Team Bath had lost this season and they made further changes at the interval, sending on U21 captain Abi Robson at WD and Laura Rudland at GA, but it was Storm who made the brighter start to the third period as they doubled their advantage to four goals.

The 800-strong home crowd turned up the volume in a bid to inspire their team but the Blue & Gold were struggling to find any rhythm and a slicker Storm side took full advantage to move 38-31 ahead.

Another switch saw Mia Ritchie come on at centre and captain Serena Guthrie move to WD but while a brief rally saw Team Bath close the gap to five, the hosts were not firing on all cylinders and Storm went into the final quarter with a healthy 43-37 lead.

Sophie Drakeford-Lewis returned to GA for a last 15 minutes that saw the home side go all out to claw their way back into the game. Some good interceptions had the crowd on their feet and the lead was quickly cut to four but, try as they might, Team Bath couldn’t get any closer as Storm saw out a well-deserved first victory of the 2019 season.

The Blue & Gold are back in action this Friday (February 1) when they play host to West Country rivals Severn Stars. Centre-pass is 7.30pm and remaining tickets are available at netball.teambath.com/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!