Team Bath’s largely rookie 2012 FIAT Superleague side staged an electrifying comeback from seven goals down in the final quarter to beat Yorkshire Jets 53-49 and book their place in the top four for the league’s next phase.
“For some of these players it was their first big match at this level and I think the nerves showed in the first three quarters. They just needed to have confidence and not see issues that weren’t there”, said coach Jess Garland as her players danced in victory celebration.
“I guess it’s innate in Team Bath’s history that fighting spirit and that will to win”, added captain Asha Francis. “I’m really proud of the players tonight. We didn’t think we would lose but you have to put that self-belief into action”.
Both captain and coach paid tribute to Becky Watkins who came off the bench to play a pivotal role in galvanising the comeback at wing-defence in the final quarter. “She inspired the others, was really hungry and won the ball early”, said Garland.
The final quarter surge began from the outset with Team Bath winning turn-over after turn-over to take eight goals for no reply in the opening eight minutes of the final quarter to pull back to 44-44. “Kadeen Corbin also really stepped up in that period whereas she had periods of being a bit too tentative earlier in the match”, said Garland of her talented goal-shooter.
Three minutes then passed with no further score before Jets broke the deadlock to lead 45-44. Both sides traded goals but with Jets always taking the lead before Bath clawed one back until the score stood at 49-49.
With the deafening roar of a 800-strong home crowd behind them Bath took the lead for the first time at 50-49 with just minutes to go. Once ahead the home team piled on the pressure in the closing three minutes to win 53-9 – nothing short of remarkable given they were trailing 35-42 as that final quarter go underway.
Team Bath had started tonight’s match knowing that they needed to win to move into the newly-devised split league this season where the top four play each other in a league format.
“We wanted to finish in the top four and it’s been tough to get there. Lots of people said we wouldn’t make it”, said Garland. “Now we are there are target must be to finish in the top three if we can”.
Team Bath’s win today came just over a week after their epic struggle, going down by just two goals to the 2011 Champions Mavericks, showing the side has the potential to convert this coach’s wishes.
In a tense first quarter tonight Team Bath twice built a three-goal cushion at 3-0 and 9-6 but were pulled back to 9-9 with three minutes to go. Jets captain and goal-shooter Jo Walker, fed well form the centre-court, put the pressure on in attack using her height to advantage. Only a sensational move up the court for Corbin to score with 30 seocnds remaining, allowed Bath to go into the interval level at 12-12
Early in the second quarter Jets enjoyed a spell of dominance, especially in the centre-court, to take a five-goal lead. Team Bath struggled to get the ball into the circle effectively much to the frustration of to of Kadeen Corbin at goal-attack.
Emotions boiled over, too, at the other end in tense contest with Team Bath goal-keeper Gemma Fletcher, who had been repeatedly penalised for contact against Walker, was sin-binned for dissent near the quarter’s end. Down to six players, for a two-goal spell, and with Corbin needing to be replaced for treatment to an injury, Bath did well to hang on and go in at half-time just 23-26 behind.
In the third quarter Jets extended their lead getting the crucial ball through the centre-court to Walker repeatedly. By contrast Team Bath looked to be reaching for pace and rhythm on the ball rather than flowing with their normal speed and accuracy. They were seven goals adrift mid-way through the third quarter, came back to within three goals at 30-33 but then faded again towards the end of that 15 minutes to go into the final break at 35-42.
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Quarter scores (Team Bath first):
Q1: 12-12; Q2: 11 – 14 (23-26); Q3 12-16 (35-42) ; Q4 18-7 (53-49)
GS: Kadeen Corbin, GA: Asha Francis (capt), WA: Amanda Trounce, C: Mia Ritchie, WD: Scarlett Williams, GD: Gemma Fletcher, GK: Sam Cook.
Bench: Millie Grey, Becky Watkins, Kate McGinley, Kat Hayes, Emily Rose.
Q2 changes: Francis to GS; Corbin to GA; Fletcher to GK; Cook to GD. Hayes – GS (for Corbin injury) Q3 Changes Corbin (after injury) from B-GS; Cook GD –GK, Fletcher from GK – GD. Q4: Williams from WD – B, Watkins from B-WD, Cook from GK – GD, Fletcher GD – GK.
GS Jo Walker (Capt); GA Rachel Shaw; WA Nat Haythomthwaite; Nat Panagarry C; WD Jacqui Russell; GD Jo McKinney; GS Lauren Potter
Bench: Amy Potter; Holly Pearce; Sam Thomas; Kylie Paynter; Gemma McDermott.
Q2 changes: Haythornthwaite WA – B; Russell to C, Pangarry to WA, Thomas from B to WD;
Kadeen Corbin: 39 from 45 (86.67 per cent)
Asha Francis: 12 from 15 (80 per cent)
Hayes 2 from 2 (100%)
Walker 39 from 47 (82.98 per cent)
Shaw 10 from 15 (66.67 per cent)
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The University of Bath is The Sunday Times University of the Year 2011/12.