Team Bath will have to wait until Saturday (14 May) night to confirm a home tie in the Fiat Netball Superleague play-offs after going down 60-47 to Surrey Storm at the University of Bath tonight (Thursday).
Tonight’s result means the two teams will meet again in the first round of the play-offs and they go into the final round of regular season games level on points.
Team Bath have a superior goal average and victory over bottom side Glasgow Wildcats in Scotland on Saturday should be enough to ensure Team Bath will host Storm again in the play-offs. Storm face top of the table Hertfordshire Mavericks in their last game of the regular season on Saturday.
In a contest featuring half of England’s 12-strong World Championships squad on show at the University of Bath and being screened on Sky Sports on Monday night, it was Storm that took the game by the scruff of the neck early on, inspired by former Team Bath player Tamsin Greenway.
The England goal attack popped up all over the court, providing some excellent ball for Rachel Dunn, who brought memories flooding back of her years playing in yellow and blue by steadily chalking the goals up on the scoreboard.
After a tense opening few minutes in quarter one, the scores went with centre pass until Dunn nailed five goals without reply to give Surrey a 14-9 advantage.
Cookey and Guthrie were combining well for TeamBath, but the home side still went in 17-11 down at the end of the first quarter.
England defenders Stacey Francis and Eboni Beckford-Chambers tried to spark TeamBath into life with some acrobatic interceptions in the second quarter, but Dunn just kept the scoreboard ticking over with monotonous regularity as the visitors stretched their lead to 34-20 at the half-way mark. Surely that was too big a gap for the Superleague champions to overcome?
Something clicked for Team Bath in quarter three and they started taking the game to the visitors, taking bite sized chunks out of that rather daunting 14-goal deficit. Serena Guthrie, Gemma Fletcher and Mia Ritchie made Storm work harder in midcourt, but Surrey defenders Katy Holland and Hannah Reid still proved difficult to break down in their own circle.
Nevertheless, Team Bath cut the difference from a 16-goal margin early in quarter three to 11 with 15 minutes remaining by taking the quarter 13-10.
But by then Team Bath had left themselves with too much to do and despite some accurate shooting from young Rosie Allison and a fabulous crowd rallying behind their team, TeamBath wend down 60-47.
Team Bath head coach Jess Garland said: “There’s no feeling sorry for ourselves. It is what it is. We know we didn’t operate anywhere near our best tonight. I’m a strong believer that you can learn from losing.
“We didn’t really turn up in the first half,” she added. “Credit to Surrey, they exposed an under-performing Team Bath in certain areas tonight, but I was pleased with the way we responded by winning the second half.
“We’ve been here before and lost just before the play-offs and we’ve learned from it. If we earn the right to welcome Surrey back for the play-offs it will be an interesting encounter.“
Team Bath captain Pamela Cookey said: “The first half was slow. We didn’t play up to the standard we know we can. We pulled our socks up in the second half and at least we know we know we’ve got a good end under our belts going into the play-offs. We’ve got to move on.”
Quarter scores (Team Bath first): Q1 11-17, Q2 9-17 (20-34), Q3 13-10 (33-44) Q 4 14-16 (47-60)
Team Bath: GS Rosie Allison, GA Pamela Cookey (capt), WA Asha Tett, C Serena Guthrie, WD Gemma Fletcher, GD Eboni Beckford-Chambers, GK Stacey Francis.
Q2 changes: Mia Ritche to WA, Francis to GD, Beckford-Chamber to GS. Q3: change: Tett to GS. Q4 changes: Allison to GS, Tett to WA, Ritchie to C, Guthrie to WD.
Bench: Katy Rose, Scarlett Williams, Sam Perry, Kadeen Corbin
Surrey Storm: GS Rachel Dunn, GA Tamsin Greenway, WA Gemma Cosentino, C Becky Trippick, WD Natalie Seaton, GD Katy Holland, GK Hannah Reid. Bench: Rhianne McHale, Steph Bello, Fran Desmond, Lucy Adams, Adele Modeste
Rosie Allison – 23 from 25 (92 per cent)
Pamela Cookey – 18 from 20 (90 per cent)
Asha Tett – 6 from 8 (75 per cent)
Rachel Dunn – 53 from 64 (83 per cent)
Tamsin Greenway – 7 from 11 (64 per cent)
For further information members of the media contact the TeamBath press office at Matchtight Ltd on 07765 071683.