A powerful and determined last quarter display saw Fiat Netball Superleague champions Team Bath secure a 10-goal victory over Celtic Dragons at the University of Bath tonight (Thursday).
Team Bath turned a 35-33 deficit going into the last quarter into a 50-40 win to make it two wins from two games at the start of the season.
But the game was not plain sailing for the champions, with Dragons’ 6 foot 6 inch goal shooter Lottysha Cato proving difficult to stop.
In the final quarter England defenders Stacey Francis and Eboni Beckford-Chambers gradually wrestled the initiative away from the Dragons.
Francis produced four outstanding interceptions to stem the flow to Cato, and with Jo Binns, Asha Tett and Serena Guthrie combining well and at pace in midcourt, Pamela Cookey and Kirsty Delves were quick to capitalise on that possession in the other circle.
Team Bath gradually reduced the deficit to 37-37, and then Delves and Cookey punished Celtic Dragons late on, extending a 44-39 margin midway through the quarter into a 10-goal victory as they took the final quarter 17-5.
Afterwards Jess Garland, Team Bath’s head coach, said: “Stacey and Eboni got more turnout ball than we probably should have got, and that kept us in the game.
“Our decision-making was a bit inconsistent in the first three-quarters of the game, but that doesn’t mean were weren’t working hard. It was a big effort in the last 15 minutes, but we need to assert ourselves on a game quite quickly rather than relying on the lasted 15 minutes,” she added. “It’s quite important that we’ve got another game quite quickly when we play Loughborough here on Monday night.”
Stacey Francis said: “It was a really hard, grafty performance. We’re pleased to come away with a 10-goal win, because it was closer than that. Celtic used their goal shooter fantastically. It wasn’t always pretty netball tonight, but we’ve played two and won two.”
Melissa Hyndman, the Celtic Dragons head coach, labelled goal shooter Cato ‘unstoppable’ and added: “We came here to play our style and be competitive, and we did that, For us it’s about building and I couldn’t be happier.”
The opening quarter of the game at the Sports Training Village was neck and neck, but it was the Dragons who perhaps surprisingly ended the quarter with an 11-9 lead.
The home side were 5-2 up after five minutes, but Cato proved a difficult opponent at goal shooter for the Dragons and kept the visitors in the game.
Cato started the second quarter the way she left off the first – she didn’t miss much in front of goal, but somehow Beckford-Chambers managed to intercept some ball.
Nevertheless, Dragons were 20-17 up going into a thrilling final minute of the quarter. The ever-reliable Cookey scored to reduce the deficit, then TeamBath made the best of the centre pass for Allison to score to make it 20-19.
Francis then produced a terrifically acrobatic interception to regain possession from the Dragons’ centre pass and the ball was fed to Allison, who levelled-up.
There was more to come in a thrilling finale to the quarter as Cookey scored on the stroke of half-time to put Team Bath back into the lead at 21-20.
But it was visitors that produced a strong quarter three to set-up a grandstand finale.
Team Bath return to Superleague action on Monday (7 February) when they host Loughborough Lightning. To buy tickets please go to the ticketline or call the event ticketline on 0844 8884412.
Quarter scores (Team Bath first).
Q1: 9-11 Q2: 12-9 (21-20) Q3: 12-15 (33-35) Q4: 17-5 (50-40)
Team Bath starting seven:
GS Rosie Allison, GA Pamela Cookey (capt), WA Asha Tett, C Katy Rose, WD Serena Guthrie, GD Stacey Francis, GK Eboni Beckford-Chambers.
Q2 changes: Rose to WA, Jo Binns to C
Q3 changes: Tett to WA, Beckford-Chambers to GD, Francis to GK. Q3 injury time-out change: Francis to GD, Beckford-Chambers to GK
Q4 changes: Kirsty Delves to GS, Beckford-Chambers to GD, Francis to GK
Bench: Mia Ritchie, Scarlett Williams, Gemma Fletcher
Celtic Dragons starting seven:
GS Lottysha Cato, GA Cara Moseley, WA Sophie Morgan, C Suzy Drane (co-capt) WD Kyra Neal, GD Stephanie Williams, GK Sarah Hale (co capt)
Bench: Amanda Trounce, Emma Thomas, Chelsea Lewis, , Nichola James, Kelly Morgan
Rosie Allison – 22/31 (71 per cent)
Pamela Cookey – 19/25 (76 per cent)
Kirsty Delves – 9/14 (64 per cent)
Lottysha Cato – 34/44 (77 per cent)
Care Moseley – 7/13 (54 per cent)
For further information please contact the Team Bath press office at Matchtight Ltd on 01225 443998 or 07765 071683.