Wasps Netball Vs Celtic Dragons


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Team Bath fightback to climb into top four

Team Bath Netball showed tremendous character to turn a six-goal deficit into a 51-47 victory over Strathclyde Sirens tonight as Blue & Gold supporters were treated to another rip-roaring Vitality Superleague clash at the Team Bath Arena.

The noisy four-figure crowd saw the Sitec-sponsored Blue & Gold struggle to find a way through Sirens’ rock-solid defence during a feisty and physical first half, which saw the visitors lead 15-9 at the end of the opening quarter and hang on to a two-goal advantage going into the interval.

Team Bath stuck with the gameplan, though, and eventually managed to pull ahead in the third quarter before seeing out a hard-fought victory – their fourth in a row as they keep up their chase for a top-four finish.

Head Superleague Coach Anna Stembridge said: “We knew it was going to be tough and credit to the girls for grinding out the win and building from quarter to quarter. I thought defensively we put in a great shift right across the court and I’m proud of the girls tonight.”

England star Serena Guthrie played a key role in the comeback with some outstanding interceptions and was named as Genuine Car Services Player of the Match.

“It’s not easy to come back against a classy side like Sirens so we’re happy to come out with the win but there is a lot of learning for us to take from the game,” she said.

“I have to say thank you so much to the fans for getting behind the team in every game this year, it has been amazing – especially for me as I have been away for so long, I love being back out there in front of the Bath crowd.”

Guthrie was the only change to Saturday’s starting seven against Celtic Dragons but, as in that match, Team Bath struggled to make the most of turnover ball in the first period.

The Sirens attack of Bethan Goodwin and Niamh McCall were clinical at the other end and it was the visitors who went into the break with an impressive 15-9 lead.

Team Bath were having to really work hard to find space in the Sirens circle and there was no let up in the defensive pressure during a physical second quarter but the hosts, with the vocal encouragement of the crowd ringing in their ears, continued to battle away and began to reap some reward.

A four-goal burst from Sophie Drakeford-Lewis saw Team Bath – who introduced Abi Robson at WD – cut the lead to two and that was how it stayed for the remainder of the half as the teams went blow for blow, with Sirens holding on to a 24-22 advantage.

The visitors made the brighter start to the third period and stretched their lead to 28-24 but Team Bath were fired up now and, inspired by some stunning interceptions from Guthrie and Summer Artman, worked their way back into the match once again.

With the ball now being fizzed in to Drakeford-Lewis and Kim Commane in attack, Team Bath had the crowd on their feet as they drew level at 32-32 before taking the lead for the first time since the second minute.

They soon found themselves 35-32 up but Sirens were not going to let the match get away from them and clawed their way back to 36-36 with a minute of the quarter remaining.

It needed another flying Guthrie intercept to regain the momentum for Team Bath and two Drakeford-Lewis goals ensured they led 38-36 going into the final period.

It remained tense and tight in the opening stages of that quarter but, as Artman and Usoro-Brown turned up the defensive pressure, Team Bath were finally able to gain some breathing space. Rachel Shaw and Robson were also working tirelessly as the hosts saw out a hard-earned four-goal victory.

The Blue & Gold are back at home on Monday (March 25) when they play host to South West rivals Severn Stars in a rearranged derby fixture. Centre-pass is 7pm and tickets are available at netball.teambath.com.


Match stats

Team Bath Netball starting 7: GS Kim Commane, GA Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, WA Rachel Shaw, C Serena Guthrie, WD Imogen Allison, GD Eboni Usoro-Brown, GK Summer Artman. Replacements: Leila Thomas, Abi Robson, Mia Ritchie, Laura Rudland, Beryl Friday.

Strathclyde Sirens starting 7: GS Bethan Goodwin, GA Niamh McCall, WA Nicola McCleary, C Gia Abernethy, WD Claire Maxwell, GD Emily Nicholl, GK Hayley Mulheron. Replacements: Emma Barrie, Kelly Boyle, Ella Gibbons.

Quarter scores (Team Bath first): Q1 9-15. Q2 22-24 (13-9). Q3 38-36 (16-12). Q4 51-47 (13-11).

Photo Credit: Bryn Vaile for Matchtight.

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Bath narrowly beat Celtic Dragons

Team Bath struggled to produce their best netball as they were put under pressure by spirited opposition, who reduced a five-goal half-time deficit to three going into the final quarter.

Team Bath were eventually able to pull clear and secure a 56-50 victory, their third in a row, but Head Superleague Coach Anna Stembridge is looking for improvements ahead of the forthcoming home matches against Strathclyde Sirens and Severn Stars.

“Ultimately we’re pleased to get the win under our belts but there are still things we want to build on and put right,” she said. “We were too wasteful in terms of our turnover ball, particularly in the second quarter when we had an opportunity to pull away.

“You never feel comfortable in this league. No opponent is an easy one and we knew Dragons would be tough tonight, they’ve had some really good performances this season, so we are happy to get the points.”

Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, who was named as Genuine Car Services Player of the Match for a third successive game, added: “It was a tough match and Dragons really pushed us, they forced us to keep battling right to the very end.

“We could have pulled away in the second and third quarters but errors started to creep in and that is something we will look to improve on for the next match.”

Team Bath made just one change to the starting seven that had faced London Pulse on Monday, Mia Ritchie starting at centre as Serena Guthrie continued her return to full fitness.

It took a while for the contest to get going, with just one goal apiece scored in the opening three minutes. The first period continued to be edgy and evenly-contested, with Team Bath twice making the most of turnovers to open up a three-goal lead before Dragons responded in kind.

The scores were locked at 14-14 when Guthrie was introduced for the second period and she made an instant impact, using her telescopic reach to secure a number of interceptions.

Her efforts were matched by defenders Summer Artman and Eboni Usoro-Brown, as well as Imogen Allison and Rachel Shaw, as Team Bath – while still not as fluent as they can be – began to make the most of their possession to score seven unanswered goals.

Dragons fought back well to close the gap to 26-24 with three minutes of the second quarter remaining but another Guthrie intercept inspired a strong finish from the Blue & Gold, with Drakeford-Lewis and Kim Commane’s smart shooting securing a hard-fought 30-25 lead at half-time.

Team Bath made an attacking switch in the third quarter as Beryl Friday came on at GA and Drakeford-Lewis moved to GS.

The hosts were looking to push on in the third quarter but instead, it was Dragons who responded well again as they cut the lead to three and had possession following an error in attack. However, a brilliant intercept from Shaw got Team Bath back on the front foot and they quickly reestablished a 37-31 advantage.

Back came Dragons again, led by some fine finishing from Lucy Herdman and Kalifa McCollin, and the nervous tension was clear on and off the court as more mistakes crept into the home play.

Team Bath’s lead was reduced to 43-40 going into the final quarter, which saw Abi Robson – who had come on during the third period – continue at WD and Ritchie return at C, while Drakeford-Lewis and Friday switched positions in attack.

A brilliant turnover from Robson, converted by Friday, got Team Bath off to the confident start they needed and, while still not firing on all cylinders, good pressure across the court meant they were finally able to pull away and secure a six-goal victory against tough opposition.

Today’s match was the first of three home games in nine days at the Team Bath Arena, with Strathclyde Sirens visiting on Friday, March 22 (7.30pm) and Severn Stars the opposition on Monday, March 25 (7pm). Tickets are available to purchase now, you can buy them by clicking here

Photo credit: Bryn Vaile for Matchtight

Rachel Shaw on the stretch

Bath fend off Thunder to record first home win

Team Bath Netball produced tremendous performances right across the court to overcome Manchester Thunder in a fantastic game of Vitality Superleague netball on another dramatic evening at the Team Bath Arena.

There was little to choose between the teams throughout a fiercely-contested match that saw Team Bath edge into a five-goal lead at the end of the first quarter before Thunder clawed their way back into the game.

The tension was rising as the teams went goal for goal but every single player in Blue & Gold dug deep to keep the visitors at bay as Team Bath – roared on by another capacity crowd – deservedly saw out a 60-56 victory to secure their first home win of the 2019 season.

Team Bath Netball Head Superleague Coach Anna Stembridge said: “We knew it was going to be a great game and I think it was a real spectacle. It was a real hard-working performance and I am so proud of the players – in terms of their job description, I think every one of them delivered.”

Player of the Match Sophie Drakeford-Lewis added: “This win was really important and hopefully it can be the start of a good run for us. It was nice to get a win in front of the home crowd.”

The Blue & Gold were looking for an instant response to last week’s hard-fought defeat to leaders Wasps and came out in determined mood against a Thunder team that started the evening second in the table.

Both teams moved the ball with terrific speed during an entertaining first quarter, with Mia Ritchie and Rachel Shaw providing some fantastic service to Drakeford-Lewis and Kim Commane who were mobile and intelligent in attack.

Thunder shooter Joyce Mvula was in excellent form at the other end but Team Bath cranked up the defensive pressure as the quarter went on, inspired by some terrific turnovers from Imogen Allison, Eboni Usoro-Brown and Summer Artman.

Once Team Bath had edged in front for the first time midway through the quarter, they were able to gradually build on the lead and by the end of a physical first quarter they held an 18-13 advantage.

Thunder came out strong at the start of the second period and quickly cut the lead to one. The two teams then traded goals before Team Bath regained the initiative following an outstanding double-tap interception from Ritchie which saw her end up among the home substitutes after taking out an advertising board.

It had the crowd on their feet and provided the spark for Team Bath to restore a four-goal cushion in the closing moments as they took a 32-28 lead into the half-time interval.

It was certainly far from over as a contest, though, and that was evident during a tense third quarter that saw both teams struggle to force turnovers. It was goal for goal for the first eight minutes before Thunder finally put together a burst of scoring to cut the gap to two.

Team Bath responded once again and, with the whole team defending from front to back, they were able to push their lead back up to five, Commane scoring on the buzzer to make it 49-44.

The final quarter had the 1,200-strong crowd on the edge of their seats as Thunder showed tremendous character to cut the deficit to three goals with three minutes remaining.

The fans, sensing the role they had to play, cranked up the volume and the roof nearly came off when Artman produced two magnificent – and critical – interceptions. Team Bath took advantage of both to finally kill the game off.

The Blue & Gold pay their first-ever visit to London Pulse in a televised game on Monday, March 11 before they return to the Team Bath Arena on Saturday, March 16 to face Celtic Dragons (5pm centre-pass) – visit netball.teambath.com/tickets to purchase tickets.

Team Bath Netball starting 7: GS Kim Commane, GA Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, WA Rachel Shaw, C Mia Ritchie, WD Imogen Allison, GD Eboni Usoro-Brown, GK Summer Artman. Bench: Leila Thomas, Abi Robson, Amanda Varey, Laura Rudland, Beryl Friday.

Manchester Thunder starting 7: GS Joyce Mvula, GA Kathryn Turner, WA Liana Leota, C Caroline O’Hanlon, WD Amy Carter, GD Emma Dovey, GK Kerry Almond. Replacements: Rebekah Airey, Eleanor Cardwell, Paige Kindred, Laura Malcolm, Maria McAndrew.

Tickets are available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final!

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

Photo credit: Clare Green for Matchtight.

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Wasps’ second-quarter surge proves decisive against Team Bath

The Team Bath Arena was buzzing before centre-pass and the capacity crowd were treated to a fast and furious opening quarter which saw both teams go goal for goal.

There was tremendous defensive right across the court but Mia Ritchie and Rachel Shaw were able to find the space to provide an attacking spark for the hosts, providing good supply for Sophie Drakeford-Lewis and Beryl Friday in attack.

They were able to twice give Team Bath three-goal advantages, leading 6-3 and 9-6, but former Blue & Gold shooter Rachel Dunn was in fine form once again at the other end as Wasps kept coming back to ensure a pulsating quarter finished all square at 11-11.

Wasps edged ahead for the first time two minutes into the second period and capitalised on their advantage ruthlessly, rapidly extending their advantage to 18-12 as they moved the ball with speed and precision.

Team Bath were struggling to find a route into the shooting circle and became more frustrated as an increasingly feisty, physical quarter went on. At one stage they were only able to score once in response to 13 goals from Wasps as the visitors piled on the pressure.

With the encouragement of the crowd, Team Bath cleared their heads in the last five minutes of the quarter and worked their way back into the contest. Kim Commane came off the bench as the hosts scored four unanswered goals of their own to close the gap to 28-18 going into the break.

Team Bath carried the momentum into the third period and, with Chartie Curtis on at GD, continued eating into the Wasps lead as they scored five of the first six goals in the quarter.

However, despite some excellent attacking play that had the crowd on their feet, they couldn’t get any close than six goals and then lost their momentum in the closing stages of the quarter as they lost both Allison and Curtis to injury in quick succession.

Wasps went on to score four unanswered goals as Team Bath reorganised their defence, ensuring they had restored their ten-goal advantage going into the final 15 minutes.

The Blue & Gold rallied once again and, with Genuine Car Services Player of the Match Commane in fantastic shooting form, they had the home crowd roaring as they halved the lead to just five goals.

However, as in the third quarter, Wasps were able to hold them at bay before using their experience and quality to pull away again in the closing stages to record an impressive victory.

Team Bath’s next home Superleague game, against Manchester Thunder next Friday (March 1), is also a sell-out but tickets are available for the other matches taking place at the Team Bath Arena in 2019 – visit netball.teambath.com/tickets to find out more.

Team Bath Netball starting 7: GS Beryl Friday, GA Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, WA Rachel Shaw, C Mia Ritchie, WD Imogen Allison, GD Eboni Usoro-Brown, GK Summer Artman. Bench: Chartie Curtis, Leila Thomas, Abi Robson, Laura Rudland, Kim Commane.

Wasps Netball starting 7: GS Rachel Dunn, GA Katie Harris, WA Bongi Msomi, C Jade Clarke, WD Amy Flanagan, GD Hannah Knights, GK Josie Huckle. Bench: Sophia Candappa, Chloe Essam, Sam May, Tamsin Moala, Fran Williams.

Tickets are now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final!

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

Image credit: Bryn Vaile for Matchtight