Team Bath’s Superleague netballers suffered their first home defeat of the 2013 season by 58-66 to Celtic Dragons at the University of Bath’s Sports Training Village this evening.
In a top-of-the-table clash Dragons perfectly executed the long ball to their totem goal-shooter Lottysha Cato to great effect whilst Team Bath could not convert their turn-over ball.
“Our attacking games was not good enough”, said coach Jess Thirlby whose side had beaten the Dragons in their own Welsh lair just a week before to stay at the top of the Showdown League.
“When we played them at home we were more consistent in attack”, said captain Asha Francis.
“They did nothing unexpected today it was more things that we were doing to ourselves. We did not have the same self-control as a week ago”.
This was indeed a slightly unvarnished Team Bath performance. The opening quarter set the pattern with accurate passing from the Dragons into Cato – the visitors’ gigantic Caribbean draft – who converted metronomically.
Team Bath meanwhile worked the ball from defence to attack but gave too much ball away. “We could not convert the turn-overs in defence”, said Thirlby who despite her clear disappointment with the overall performance was still pleased with the roles played by three of her younger players, Sam Cook at goal-keeper, Mia Ritchie in mid-court and Sasha Corbin as a shooter.
“In the past we have had people who step up when it matters but we seemed somewhat leaderless today and there was no energy in our game”, she added.
Honours went to the visitors in the first quarter by 17-15, barring a couple of crucial turn-overs from Sam Cook at goal-keeper Team Bath might have trailed by more. The home team fought back from 10-15 down with five minutes to the interval.
The second quarter was more of the same but just with greater intensity from both sides. Once again Cook and Stacey Francis at goal-defence fought like demons to keep the ball away from Cato whenever they could to give the home side the chance to counter. Serena Guthrie, the England wing-defence, also made some acrobatic interceptions.
Trailing 15-20 soon after the interval the home side bounced back with some super mid-court intensity to reach 19-20. A rare fluffed ball from Francis to Corbin flattened the option of drawing level.
Celtic Dragons took full advantage, moving to another five-goal margin at 20-25 as an under-pressure Team Bath slipped up around their attacking circle a number of times.
The more than 600-strong crowd lifted the roof after a suddenly on-fire Cookey sealed another fight-back when she hurled a lightning fast-feed into Corbin who scored to level at 27-27.
The revival was by dint of hard work from Team Bath, a little luck and a momentary slackening of accuracy of the feed to Cato from her team.
It could have been even at half-time but for some penalties given for contact in the centre-court melee which put Bath on the back foot at 30-32 at half-time.
Celtic Dragons stayed ahead in the early exchanges of the third quarter despite further intercepts from Guthrie who swapped positions with Mia Ritchie to go to centre. Coach Jess Thirlby also switched her shooters’ positions but made no subs.
This was a quarter of trading blows which ended 17-17 but with the league leaders still behind by two goals at 47-49. Team Bath led by the single goal at 44-43, 46-45 and 47-46 but could not press home any advantage.
In the final quarter Thirlby rested wing-attack and Captain Asha Francis for Amanda Trounce only to see Trounce go down to an ankle injury after three minutes, bringing Francis back on court.
For the visitors wing-defence and captain Kyra Jones kept up the intensity in mid-court and service resumed to Cato who notched up three in a row to put Dragons 52-49 ahead.
Team Bath responded with a fired-up spell to level at 54-54 but succumbed to a couple of errors which ultimately swung the momentum back to the visitors again who surged to 59-54 and closed out the game at 66-58.
“Now we need to re-build for the next two fixtures. We are playing to finish in the top two and secure a home semi-final”, said Thirlby.
Team Bath face two away matches against Hertfordshire Mavericks on Friday and Surrey Storm on Monday 13th May to conclude their Showdown League phase.
For further information go to http://www.teambath.com/sport/netball/superleague/
Quarter scores (Team Bath first): 15-17, 15-17 (30-32); 17-17 (47-49); 11 -17 (58-66)
TeamBath: GS Kadeen Corbin, GA Pamela Cookey, WA Asha Francis, C Serena Guthrie, WD Mia Ritchie GD Stacey Francis, GK Sam Cook
Bench: Shaunaugh Craig, Sophie Masterson, Yasmin Parsons, Gemma Stewart, Amanda Trounce.
Changes Q2: Guthrie – WD, Ritchie –C; Cookey- GS, Corbin – GA; Q4: Trounce – WA; Cookey – GA, Corbin – GS.
Celtic Dragons: GS Lottysha Cato, GA Emma Thomas, WA Carla Moseley, C Suzy Drane (capt), WD Kyra Jones, GD Stephanie Williams, GK Sara Hale
Shooting statistics Team Bath:
Corbin: 38 from 45 (84.44 percent)
Cookey: 20 from 22 (90.9 percent)
Shooting statistics Celtic Dragons:
Cato 57 from 59 (96.6 percent)
Thomas 9 from 10 (90 percent)
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