A devastating second quarter slump played its part in Team Bath’s first home defeat of the 2011 Fiat Superleague season by 49-52 to Northern Thunder in front of a capacity crowd.
Team Bath went from a 19-12 first quarter lead to trail 26-30 at half-time at the University of Bath Sports Training Village. “We self-destructed”, said home side coach Jess Garland. “You can’t give away that many goals to a side of Thunder’s calibre and come back from it”.
The home side had started with splendid vigour to the delight of vocal, local support. In a first quarter, won 19-12, Jo Binns, playing her last match for Team Bath this season, made a strong impact at wing-attack.
Captain Pamela Cookey, at goal-shooter, was accurate around the net in the opening phases and Asha Tett, at goal attack, converted some breath-taking long-shots.
The Team Bath attack was counterbalanced by strong defence and turn-overs won by Stacey Francis, Eboni Beckford Chambers and Gemma Fletcher. For the visitors, Karen Greig grabbed the spotlight with some sharp shooting of her own.
By steep contrast the visitors struck back in the second quarter. They edged their way up from 13-19 to 20-23 and then levelled at 25-25 with just over three minutes to go to half-time before a stunning and frenetic sequence saw them reach the interval ahead at 30-26.
Recent former Team Bath player Sara Bayman, playing like a midfield general at centre in this quarter rather than wing-defence, was the partial orchestrator of the dramatic role reversal. And Northern Thunder captain Karen Greig scored at will from anywhere in the circle.
“I think that was the difference tonight. We were stronger in the centre-court”, said Thunder coach Mike Greenwood.
Team Bath contributed to their slide with a meltdown in passing and accuracy of delivery into the circle and the net. In the frenzy of the final few minutes of the half even simple free-passes went astray.
“We played some of the most amazing stuff we have produced this season in the first quarter but in the second, it was a like a switch went and we disconnected”, said Cookey.
Team Bath Coach Jess Garland must have steadied nerves with her half-time team-talk. Within two minutes of the restart the home side were level once more at 30-30.
Beckford Chambers produced some superb goal-keeping to keep Greig at bay.
For the next 10 minutes a single goal separated the sides with Team Bath nudging back into the lead after six and a half minutes at 35-34 for the first time in the quarter before emerging ahead 38-37 at the final break.
With the scene set for a final-quarter battle, Thunder sent the misfiring goal-attack Charlotte Benham to the bench and brought on Lyndsey Armitage at goal-shooter, switching Greig to goal-attack.
Armitage’s huge physical presence helped her score 11 goals from 11 attempts, thus accelerating Team Bath’s ultimate defeat.
An eye-catching turn-over from Serena Guthrie at 45-48 gave the home side hope with five minutes to go but Thunder piled on the pressure to lead 51-45 before taking a deserved victory 52-49.
Northern Thunder, with former Team Bath players and University of Bath graduates Bayman, Rachel Henry and Krystal Gale in their squad, came into tonight’s match with five wins from five, including a 44-39 victory over league leaders Hertfordshire Mavericks on the opening weekend of the season.
Team Bath, with five wins from six matches played, were comfortable winners against Glasgow Wildcats ten days ago but lost in Round 5 of the 2011 Fiat Superleague by just one goal to Mavericks.
“The match tonight, ironically, brought the best out of us. We played some of our best netball but our passing errors in the second quarter were completely destructive”, said Garland.
“Tribute, though, to the resilience of the players that they kept going right up to the final whistle. We have some things we can take from the game and we have to play them again. So now we’ll have to do it in the second half of the season. We will have to come back then against them and the other top teams”, she added.
Team Bath, who play in Surridge kit this season, now continue their tough run of three consecutive matches against the Fiat Superleague’s other top teams so far this season. They take on Mavericks at home on 18th March at 7.30pm followed by an away fixture on 26 March to Surrey Storm.
Meanwhile, tonight’s match against Northern Thunder will be shown as live on Sky Sports from Thursday (10 March). Check TV listings for details of Sky’s coverage.
To buy tickets please go to the ticketline at http://teambath.ticketline.co.uk/ or call the event ticketline on 0844 8884412.
Quarter scores (TeamBath first).
Q1: 19-12; Q2 7-18 (26-30); 12-7 (38-37); 11-15 (49-52)
TeamBath starting seven:
GS Pamela Cookey (capt), GA Asha Tett, WA Jo Binns; C Serena Guthrie, WD Gemma Fletcher GD Stacey Francis, GK Eboni Beckford-Chambers.
Bench: Kirsty Delves, Rosie Allinson, Mia Ritchie, Katy Rose, Scarlett Williams
Q2 changes: Cookey GS – GA; Tett GA – WA, Binns WA – C; Fletcher WD – bench; Delves Bench – GS; Q3 changes: Cookey – GA – GS; Tett WA – GA; Binns C-WA; Guthrie WD – C; Fletcher Bench – WD; Delves GS – bench. Q4 changes: Beckford Chambers GD – GK; Francis GD- GK.
Coach: Jess Garland
Northern Thunder starting seven:
GS Karen Greig (capt); GA Charlotte Benham; WA Jess Langham; C Jade Clarke; WD Sara Bayman; GD: Emma Davey; GK Kerry Almond
Bench: Kathryn Turner; Lyndsey Armitage; Jodie Gibson; Krystal Gale; Rachel Henry.
Q2 changes: Bayman WD – C; Clarke C-WD; Q3 changes: None; Q4 changes: Armitage bench – GS; Benham: GA – bench; Reid GS- GA.
Coach: Mike Greenwood
TeamBath: Cookey 31 from 34 (91.2%); Tett 18 from 22 (81.80%); Delves 0 from 1.
Northern Thunder: Greig 21 from 25 (78.1%); 16 from 20 (80%); 11 from 11 (100%).
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