Team Bath kept that winning feeling going today for the home fans with a solid but not spectacular 61-35 netball Superleague victory over Team Northumbria at the University of Bath’s Sports Training Village.
Mia Ritchie, the all-action pocket-rocket in the mid-court for the home team, summed up the mood in the post-match camp when she said that they were “not as happy as we would have liked to be”. “We didn’t put them under enough pressure”, she said.
Team Bath coach Jess Thirlby echoed that sentiment: “We will be frustrated by the margin especially with tough games to come at the end of Phase One”.
Sport can be compelling, all the same. Especially when the under-dogs unexpectedly triumph and Team Northumbria must have begun to dream when they raced to a 4-1 lead to provoke the odd worried glance amongst the home fans.
It was enough to stir Team Bath into action. Fighting back to level at 5-5 they added nine without reply before closing out the quarter 17-8.
“Amanda Trounce played very well in the last match and she deserved to start”, said Thirlby of her wing-attack who was lively around the circle.
Stacey Francis snatched some influential intercepts at goal-defence to set the surge going. Meanwhile a fascinating centre-court duel ensued between Northumbria’s rising England U19 star Claire Brown and current England centre Serena Guthrie for Team Bath.
Mia Ritchie, at wing-defence for Bath, flew about the court to great effect despite taking a nasty knock in a clash with Guthrie that left Ritchie with a dead leg.
Team Bath piled on the pressure in the second quarter, as expected, to lead 33-17. The visitors enjoyed their brightest patch in the final four minutes of the half to pull back three from 32-14 to 32-17.
The move of the game came minutes before the interval with a sweeping attack from Team Bath.
Francis took the ball in defence, flung it to the fast-moving Ritchie who passed rapidly to Guthrie before Cookey wrong-footed the defence to receive the ball in the circle and score. The attack even got the opposition applauding.
Team Bath coach Jess Thirlby made wholesale changes for quarter three. Yasmins Parsons came on at centre with Rosie Allison taking over at goal-shooter. Trounce and Asha Francis were rested.
“It is important in matches like this to try options, especially with the injuries that we have. Sometimes that can cause disruption but it’s important to give as many as possible court-time”, said Thirlby. “
A couple of long-range misses from Allison tipped the balance in favour of the visitors, who won a hard-fought quarter 11-9 much to the delight of their vocal team bench.
Chrissy Munro, an ex-Team Bath player, came on at goal-attack for Northumbria in that quarter but Team Bath still had the lead by 42-28 with 15 minutes left to play.
Once again Thirlby shuffled her centre-court and also brought Kelly Morgan on at goal-defence. Allison, back from a month out with injury, found her range with some great long shots. The home side moved to 51-33 and then to 58-35 before taking the victory 61-35.
The two sides came into tonight’s match with contrasting fortunes. Team Bath had won three and lost one whilst Northumbria won their opener by a single goal but then lost three on the trot.
Team Bath’s players were also buoyed by recent national selections. Cookey, Corbin, Guthrie, Ritchie and Francis will all play against Jamaica in April whilst Allison, Cook and Parsons have been selected at England U21 level.
Team Bath’s remaining Phase One fixtures are both away – to Yorkshire Jets next Friday (15th) and Hertfordshire Mavericks on Friday 22nd.
The top four teams from Phase two will go into the Phase Two league before semi-finals and finals. On current form Team Bath should qualify.
For the latest up-to-date information on Phase Two dates and fixtures fans can keep an eye on Team Bath on Twitter and on http://www.teambath.com/sport/netball/superleague/
Quarter scores (Team Bath first): Q1: 17-8 Q2: 16-9 (33-17), Q3: 9-11 (42-28), Q4: 19-7 (61-35).
Team Bath: GS: Asha Francis (capt), GA Pamela Cookey, WA Amanda Trounce, C Serena Guthrie, WD Mia Ritchie, GD Stacey Francis, GK Gemma Stewart.
Q2 changes: Cookey – GS, A.Francis – GA. Q3 changes: Allison – GS, Cookey GS – GA, Ritchie WD – WA, Guthrie C – WD, Parsons – C, Q4 changes Parsons – C, Ritchie WA – C, S.Francis – GK, Morgan – GD, A.Francis – WA.
Bench: Rosie Allison, Samantha Cook, Kelly Morgan, Yasmin Parsons, Sophie Masterson.
GS: Toetsie Kambatuku, GA Deborah Percy, WA Victoria Burgess, C Claire Brown, WD Victoria Percy, GD Natalie Connor, GK Sarah Penny.
Q3 changes: Munro – GA.
Bench: Marie Ewing, Christianna Munro, Kayley Moss, Tessa Potts, Emma Woodings.
Cookey – 33 from 43 (76.7%)
A. Francis – 11 from 16 (68.8%)
Allison – 17 from 21 (81.00%)
Kambatuku 22 from 38 (57.9%)
Percy 1 from 5 (20%)
Munro 12 from 14 (85.7%)
You can find out more about Team Bath on our website teambath.com
You can also follow Team Bath on Twitter at twitter.com/teambath or facebook.com/teambath
For further information please contact the Team Bath press office at Matchtight Ltd on 01225 383518 or email@example.com