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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.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - MARCH 05: Sasha Corbin of Benecos Mavericks challenges Emily Hollingsworth of Team Northumbria during the Vitality Superleague match between Team Northumbria and Benecos Mavericks on March 5, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

benecosMavericks re-sign Corbin

benecosMavericks is delighted to share that Sasha Corbin has re-signed for the 2019 Vitality Netball Superleague Season and will again lead this team as Captain.

Sasha Corbin, a long time favourite with the benecosMavericks fans, returned to the club last season and travelled to New Zealand with the England Roses squad for the Quad Series and will next be heading onto Jamaica for the Series against the Sunshine Girls.

Sasha Corbin had this to say about the new season with benecosMavericks: “Hey Mavs family, I’m thrilled to have signed for another season and am really looking forward to building on from where we left off and seeing what we can create as a team in 2019.”

Kathryn Ratnapala, Mavericks Director of Netball is delighted to have signed Sasha:

“We’ve been working hard to assemble a team that we believe can take us all the way this year.  I’ve been eager to share this team with you all and am delighted to start with our Captain.

“Sasha Corbin is an inspiration to players on and off the court – her athleticism, skills and energy are second to none and I’m excited to see her once again pull on the purple dress and represent benecosMavericks as our Captain.”


Coach hails ‘ruthless’ Stars after dominant win over Storm

Severn Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, described her side as “ruthless” as they brushed aside Surrey Storm in a commanding 55-43 victory.

Stars held the lead throughout the game as they blew away their opponents, opening up a huge 24-goal advantage midway through a stunning third quarter in one of their finest performances of this year’s Vitality Netball Superleague campaign.

Now they must look to recover quickly in time to play the second leg of their Bank Holiday weekend double-header, as they face the same side again at Surrey Sports Park on Monday (May 28, 7pm).

“We were dominant throughout,” said Bird.

“I’m pleased with how ruthless the players were. I want them to push on and I don’t want them to feel embarrassed about winning by big margins and that’s really good to see.

“We won the third quarter 21-7, which is very rare and unusual, and probably one of the biggest quarters we’ve ever won in the history of the club. It’s just fantastic.”

Bird heaped praise on her side’s defensive performance.  “Storm just couldn’t get through our defence,” she said.  “Becky Oatley did really well and was really disciplined at wing defence and stuck to task, and the two in the circle, Sam Cooke and Phumza Maweni, were just amazing.”

Stars came out flying in the opening quarter at the University of Worcester Arena and fired their way to an early 7-3 lead, moving the ball quickly as wing attack Iona Darroch and centre Laura Malcolm caused Surrey problems with their incisive passing.

Stars’ success going forward was matched by fierce play from their defensive trio, who thwarted several attacks as the hosts stifled Surrey’s forward players for much of the quarter.

The visitors grew into the game and had brought the score back to within just two goals with five minutes of the quarter remaining, before Stars reacted to ensure they ended the first quarter with a 14-9 lead.

Stars carried their momentum into the second quarter, extending their lead to seven points after goal shooter Eleanor Cardwell turned provider, with her defence-splitting pass allowing unmarked goal attack Maryka Holtzhausen to net.

Storm threatened to hit back midway through the second quarter, hitting four goals without reply as they cut the home side’s lead to just six.

But Stars regained control and, helped by the creativity of Darroch and Holtzhausen and the composed finishing of Cardwell, went into the half-time break with a commanding 29-21 lead.

The hosts ramped up the pressure in a scintillating third quarter performance, building a decisive 14-point lead in the early stages.

Goalkeeper Phumza Maweni, goal defence Sam Cook and wing defence Becky Oatley performed superbly defensively to help keep the visitors at bay, limiting Storm to just two goals in the opening 10 minutes of the quarter.

Stars continued to dominate proceedings, nearly doubling their opponents’ score and ending the quarter with a staggering 50-28 advantage.

The hosts rang the changes in the fourth quarter, resting several key players and giving court time to Rosie Allison, Ella Powell-Davis and Amanda Davis.  Although a slightly disjointed final 15 minutes saw their hefty advantage cut back, they still ended the game with a huge 55-43 victory.

Tickets for the next home game against UWS Sirens on Monday, June 11 (7pm) are available at www.severnstars.co.uk.

The race to reach the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final is heating up – don’t miss out on the season-ending spectacular and get your tickets now!

Photo credit: Rockpool Photography