Strathclyde Sirens Vs Severn Stars

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Loughborough v Saracens

Lightning suffer away defeat

Loughborough Lightning took home a difficult defeat on Saturday night after a physical battle on the road with Saracens Mavericks clinching the 54 – 41 win in round three of the Vitality Netball Superleague.

The match started with a fairly even playing surface, Ugandan Shooter Mary Cholhok claimed her first Superleague start, whilst Lightning veterans Clark, Panagarry and Joseph continued to claim the starting mid-court spots. Facing an equally experienced side with England Roses sisters Sasha and Kadeen Corbin feeding directly into two-time superleague champion shooter Georgie Fisher.

Eager to impress their home fans for their first home match of the season, newly named Saracens Mavericks got off to a flying start, claiming the first four goals. But Lightning were soon making their mark in the game closing the gap. With both circle defenders keeping close to Cholhok, in an attempt to disrupt Joseph’s drop balls, it was up to Clark to sink the first shots against her old side.

End of Q1: Loughborough Lightning 12 – 17 Saracens Mavericks

Beginning the second quarter with the same line-up Lightning were wide awake and ready to rewrite the opening fifteen minutes and get themselves on top of the home side. With both teams increasing the speed and physicality, much to the delight of the sold-out home crowd, every single ball was fought tooth and nail to be kept in possession. Fancy footwork from Cholhok and dominance in the D from Oyesola and Keenan saw Lightning double their points before the half-time break.

Half-time: Loughborough Lightning 24 – 35 Saracens Mavericks

Moving Panagarry to WD and bringing on Shaw to centre, Lightning needed to muster all their remaining energy to turn the fate of the game around in the second half. The physicality and aggression on court ramped up yet again and both sides sought every opportunity to wreak havoc and disrupt the flow of the game. Their best quarter of the game saw Lightning close the gap to just four goals with 5 minutes left in the quarter.

End of Q3: Loughborough Lightning 37 – 44 Saracens Mavericks

A huge fifteen minutes stood between Lightning and the end as the final quarter got underway. An unchanged Lightning side mustered all they could to once again close the gap to just four however a series of mistakes opened up the opportunity Mavericks were looking for to run away with the ball and widen the gap once and for all to seal the win.

Full-time: Loughborough Lightning 51 – 64 Saracens Mavericks

Head Coach Sara Bayman was keen to highlight the game’s positives, despite the final score;

“I think today was frustrating because we did some really good stuff but we gave too much ball away. We knew today was going to be tough, Mavericks have been named one of the favourites this season but we also knew we had the game and determination to match them. I think we proved that in parts tonight but I think if you give a quality side like Mavs too much opportunity they’re going to use it to their advantage and run away with it as they did tonight.”

Regardless of the extreme physicality of the game, causing multiple cautions for both sides, Bayman was pleased with the effort put in from her side;

“I think Ella Clark had a really strong game, our defensive unit grew throughout the game seeing Vicki and Tuaine coming out with a lot of ball towards the end. Our mid-court generally just grafted which we wanted from this game but I think across the board everyone needs to take individual responsibility for their own errors tonight.”

Looking ahead to next week’s fixture, Bayman cited Sirens new signing as their secret weapon;

“I think Sirens is an exciting one as they’ve improved massively from last year and I think they’ll upset a few teams this season. They’ve got a massive target shooter in terms of Cat Tuivaiti so we’re going to need to win ball a bit earlier up the court. Hopefully, we can fix a few things in training this week and go into next week feeling confident.”

Lightning are back in action next weekend on home turf as they welcome Strathclyde Sirens to Loughborough University. The match will form part of the Pink Party event where we’ll be aiming to raise as much money as we can for Cancer Research UK. Fans are encouraged to wear pink and come early to join in all the games and activities before the main event at 6pm.

Tickets are selling fast so secure yours now: www.loughboroughlightning.com

Photo credit: Loughborough University 

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Robinson and Varey confirmed!

Rising star Abi Robson and experienced international Amanda Varey are the two latest players to be confirmed in the Team Bath Netball squad for the 2019 Vitality Superleague season.

Nineteen-year-old Robson, a Geography student at the University of the West of England in Bristol, made her Superleague debut last season and plays at both wing-defence and centre.

She has international age-group experience with England, helping both the U17 and U21 teams to victory in Netball Europe competitions and touring New Zealand with the Roses at U19 level.

“I learnt so much during my first season and I’m looking forward to gaining more opportunities in the year ahead. It is a great squad to be part of, everyone gets on so well, and it is an incredible training environment.”

Varey – who played for Wales at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games – is returning for her fourth spell with Team Bath having previously won the Superleague title in Blue & Gold in 2010 and 2013.

The wing-attack spent last season with Celtic Dragons but continued to do some of her training at the University of Bath and is thrilled to be back in the colours she first represented 12 years ago while combining netball with studying Pharmacy.

“I feel incredibly honoured to have the opportunity to be back in the Blue & Gold dress this season,” said Varey, who is now Lead Critical Care Pharmacist at the Royal United Hospital (RUH) in Bath.

Jess Thirlby, Head Netball Coach for Team Bath, added: “Abi is one of our bright young talents and has been improving year on year for the last few seasons. She has a great attitude to learning, a great work ethic and she leads by example.

“Abi is a determined defender who applies herself to any challenge thrown at her. She is a great role model for all those athletes in our Academy and beyond, and has a bright future with this team.

“We are so pleased to welcome Amanda back after spending time with Celtic Dragons to support her national squad aspirations with Wales, which we are very proud of. She is one of the longest serving and most loyal Team Bath players of all time.

See Team Bath in action at Super 10 – get your squad together and head to the season opener on Saturday 5th January 2019 at Arena Birmingham!

You can view all Team Bath home games and ticket information at netball.teambath.com/tickets

Sam Cook - Rockpool Photography

Severn Stars re-sign Cook

Severn Stars netball club is excited to announce that former England international and Superleague champion, Sam Cook, will return to the side for her second season.

The 26-year-old goal defence star, who has gained 16 international caps, has been confirmed to return to the club for the 2019 campaign.

“Since joining Severn Stars, my passion for competing has been reignited and I have fallen in love with the sport all over again, said Sam. “The squad is very different this year, there are a lot of new players from a variety of clubs, so I’m excited to see what energy this brings to the franchise. It’s going to be interesting to see how this new talent improves our style, so I can’t wait to start training.”

Sam, who is originally from Gloucestershire, was first introduced to netball when she started secondary school and in 2015 she gained her first senior England cap against Jamaica. Before joining the Severn Stars, Sam played for Team Bath when the squad competed in and won the Vitality Netball Superleague and last year was voted the supporters’ Player of the Season.

Sam is also the Head Coach for the Severn Stars Pathway, a programme that nurtures and develops young netball talent in the Club, which is a joint franchise between the University of Worcester and the University of Gloucestershire.

Severn Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, said: “Sam is a fantastic competitor on court and has a fantastic ability to check the opponent’s shot and brings the ball through well. She is an excellent athlete and picked up several Player of the Match titles last season. She made a great entry into the team last year and quickly became a pivotal defender for the Stars. I’m really excited about the squad we have and we are looking to compete alongside the best in the league.”

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Artman and Thomas sign with Team Bath

England international Summer Artman says she is looking forward to bringing her “passion and determination” back to the Blue & Gold after returning to Team Bath Netball for the 2019 Vitality Superleague season.

Fellow talented young defender Leila Thomas, who represented Wales at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, has also joined the South West franchise as Team Bath continue to build both for the campaign ahead and for the future.

Artman, who went to King Edward’s School in Bath, came through the Team Bath Talent Development Centre before breaking into the Superleague squad in 2014 at the age of just 16.

She has spent the past three seasons combining her studies at Brunel University with starring in the Superleague with benecosMavericks but, following her graduation this summer, she is delighted to return to the club where her netball journey began.

“I’m really excited to be coming back home to Team Bath this season,” said Artman, who will add to her three senior caps when she represents England on next month’s tour of Jamaica.

“I had my first ever Superleague spell there. I was 16 and it was such an exciting period of my netballing career, playing with people I had looked up to for so long like Pamela Cookey, Stacey Francis and Serena Guthrie to name but a few – it was a whirlwind of a time!

“Coming back as a 21 year old, I’ve gained some new experiences but have that same passion and determination the younger Summer had. I’ve learnt a lot since being away about myself as a person and as an athlete, so I’m excited to share that and give back to the community that supported me so greatly when I was younger.

“I’m eager to learn and to grow and I know the Team Bath environment will support me in that. The Bristol girl is back and ready for the 2019 season!”

Artman plays at goal-keeper and goal-defence, as does fellow new girl Thomas who has two years of Superleague experience under her belt with Celtic Dragons.

A relative latecomer to netball having previously competed in dressage and show jumping, 20-year-old Thomas has enjoyed a rapid rise and has represented her country at U17 and U21 level before making the step up to the senior ranks this year. She will also captain Wales U21 at Netball Europe in Ireland next week.

“Team Bath is renowned for developing players and that was something that really attracted me to here,” said Thomas, who is studying Biological Sciences at Cardiff University.

“It is an amazing set-up and I’m enjoying being part of a new training environment alongside world-class players. I will learn so much from working with experienced players like Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Serena Guthrie, and there are a lot of players around my age developing together which is exciting for the seasons ahead.

“I was lucky enough to represent Wales at the Commonwealth Games this year, which was an incredible experience. Coming up against the best players in the world and all different styles of netball is when you learn the most as a player, I couldn’t have wished for more to be honest.

“My personal aim with Team Bath during 2019 is to continue to learn as much as possible and I think as a team we should be aiming to win the Superleague, we have a squad strong enough to do that.”

Jess Thirlby, Team Bath Netball Head Coach, said: “It’s fantastic to welcome Summer back to the Blue & Gold for the 2019 season. You could see she was always destined to have a bright future while she was coming through our pathway.

“Since going to University Summer has gained valuable Superleague experience with Mavericks and graduated into the England Roses programme, so she is a very strong signing for us in defence.

“Summer is already making her mark in netball and we are excited to help her realise her potential and see her combine with her Team Bath team-mates.

“She is a local Bristol girl and a great role model. We know she will help inspire the young talent within our pathway and the South West, and our fans can be excited about her return.

“We are also excited to work with Leila, a very talented young defender who has already had a taste for Superleague and demonstrated her ability to contest and win ball across any of the three defensive positions.

“She trains and plays with a great intensity and her work ethic is fantastic. We are keen to see her progress and perform amongst a very talented Team Bath squad for 2019.”

Artman and Thomas bolster a defence that will be without Layla Guscoth in 2019 after she became the latest Team Bath player to make the switch to the professional Suncorp Super Netball league in Australia after joining Adelaide Thunderbirds.

Guscoth has enjoyed two excellent seasons in Blue & Gold, being voted by her peers into the Superleague Team of the Year in both 2017 and 2018. She combined playing with a two-year Foundation postgraduate medical training programme in local hospitals and, having now completed it, is taking the opportunity to focus full-time on her sport.

“I would like to thank Team Bath netball for a fantastic two years at the club,” said Guscoth. “It has been great to work with such dedicated coaches, athletes and staff and I would like to thank everyone for all of their support.

“In particular, I’d like to give a huge thanks to the Team Bath fans who made me feel welcome and raised the STV roof throughout the good and the bad. I will miss you all, thanks for having me!”

A host of players over the years have taken the skills and experience they developed in the Blue & Gold into the world’s best league, with three of the 2018 Suncorp Super Netball Team of the Year having previously played for Team Bath – Geva Mentor, Karla Pretorius (nee Mostert) and Serena Guthrie. The latter is of course making the return journey to Bath for the 2019 Superleague season.

The 2019 Vitality Superleague season begins in January and the fixtures will be confirmed on Monday (October 1), when season and match tickets will also go on sale. Visit netball.teambath.com for further details.

Team Bath Netball are sponsored by Sitec and supported by partners Mogers Drewett, Soldi and Netball South West. Centurion Chartered Financial Planners are supporting the team’s performance analysis and people development capabilities, Viper 10 are their Sportswear Supplier and Skins provide the team with compression wear.