A flying start sent Team Bath on the way to a home 52-38 Fiat Superleague victory against Loughborough Lightning tonight, making it three wins from three matches so far for the reigning champions.
The University-based side raced to a 9-1 lead within six minutes of the start. Some blisteringly accurate shooting from Kirsty Delves did much of the early damage.
Fed superbly by the Team Bath centre-court and mobile goal-attack Pamela Cookey, Delves scored the first nine goals and five more as Team Bath reached the quarter-time with a 16-10 lead.
Bath’s early dominance pleased coach Jess Garland who wanted her side to produce their best from the outset rather than leaving it to the last quarter as they had against Celtic Dragons last week.
“We had a good debrief from our first two matches over the weekend and it was good to see us replicate our final quarter performance from those matches in the opening quarter tonight and assert ourselves at the start”, she said.
“We then led for the whole game and made it tough for the opposition to come back at us. Our attacking game was much better tonight and we contained their centre-court, normally their strength, well”.
Captain Cookey agreed: “The solid start was really helpful and was enough to see us through. We’re doing good things in patches. Now we need to put it all together all the way through”.
Team Bath stretched their lead to 30-18 by half-time courtesy once more of that strong centre court of Serena Guthrie, Jo Binns and Stacey Francis at centre, wing attack and wing defence respectively.
Meanwhile Francis, Eboni Beckford Chambers and Gemma Fletcher conspired to keep England shooter Jo Harten and her goal-attack Becky Janes firing from distance rather than under the post.
Katy Rose came off the bench at half-time and must have felt like Fernando Torres without the transfer fee. Pitted against her old club Loughborough the Bath born and bred wing attack started brightly. Coach Jess Garland also swapped Asha Tett for Delves at goal-shooter for this quarter.
“I experimented with players tonight. We need to be able to maintain the momentum whilst making those kind of changes and embed people quickly into the play”, said Garland.
Loughborough shuffled their line-up, too, with Olivia Beveridge coming on at goal-shooter and Olivia Murphy coming back on at centre. The visitors produced their best netball of the match in this quarter taking several turn-overs and winning the centre-court battle but still trailed 29-40 at three-quarter time.
Garland opted for a third goal-shooter for the final quarter with Rosie Allison coming on in lieu of Tett. Guthrie moved to centre and Binns was rested for the final 15 minutes.
As both sides tired and the earlier frenetic pace dropped, Team Bath moved to 50-35 with three minutes to go and then 51-37 before Cookey closed out with a superb long-range shot to seal the victory 52-38.
Team Bath return to Superleague action on Saturday (12 February) away to Mavericks – the team they beat to lift the title in last year’s final.
They follow that with a bonus home fixture on 21 February at 7.30pm against Leeds Carnegie. This fixture has been moved to the Sports Training Village as the Leeds venue is not suitable for a televised game.
Team Bath’s subsequent home match will be Glasgow Wildcats at 4.45pm on Saturday 26 February. To buy tickets please go to the ticketline or call the event ticketline on 0844 8884412.
Quarter scores (Team Bath first).
Q1: 16-10 Q2: 14-8 (30-18) Q3: 10-11 (40-29) Q4: 12-9 (52-38)
Team Bath starting seven:
GS Kirsty Delves, GA Pamela Cookey (capt), WA Jo Binns, C Serena Guthrie, WD Stacey Francis, GD Gemma Fletcher, GK Eboni Beckford-Chambers.
Bench: Katy Rose, Rosie Allinson, Mia Ritchie, Asha Tett, Scarlett Williams –
Q2 no changes; Q3 changes: Asha Tett to GS; Katy Rose to WA; Binns to C Q4 changes: Rosie Allison to GS; Serena Guthrie to C
Loughborough Lightning starting seven:
GS, Jo Harten (Capt) GA, Becky Jones, WA , Sophia Candappa C, Olivia Murphy, WD, Tallisa Haynes GD, Emma Bliss, GK Alex Sinclair
Bench: Lianne Badmin, Olivia Beveridge, Masego Motaung, Afrika Morris, Nicola Caunt.
Q2 changes: Masego Motaung from bench to WA; Q3 changes: Olivia Murphy to C; Olivia Beveridge to GS; Afrika Morris to GK.
For further information please contact the Team Bath press office at Matchtight Ltd on 01225 443998 or (01225) 383518 or out of hours for this match (07831 755351)