Team Bath’s netballers got their defence of their ZEO Superleague title off to a winning start with a 59-45 victory over Team Northumbria at the University of Bath Sports Training Village tonight (31 January).
Team Bath’s line-up included England players Serena Guthrie, Pamela Cookey, Mia Rtichie and Stacey Francis.
Aussie Georgia Beaton, from the ANZ, made her debut for the visitors at goal-defence, in a team with a strong Northern Ireland flavour.
Northumrbria opened at pace and troubled the defending champions to take the lead three times in the first five minutes.
Both Billy Bowers, back in the Team Bath squad after a seven year absence, at goal-defence, and Rosie Allison at goal-shooter were penalised multiple times for contact.
Team Bath steadied themselves and worked back into the game, pulling ahead for the first time at 5-4.
Team Bath pulled ahead from 8-7 to 11-7 and then to 15-8 at the end of the first quarter. The crucial momentum change came at 8-7 with a series of flat and fast-paced passes to create openings for the shooters to convert.
The home side then hit a purple patch. In a blur of blue and gold they stormed ahead to lead 20-8, then 24-12 before going in at half-time at 30-16.
“It was a really good patch with some great ball speed and good decision making”, said Team Bath Coach Jess Thirlby.
Thirlby gave 16 year-old Summer Artman her debut at goal-keeper for the third quarter as Bowers was rested and Francis moved to goal-defence. Guthrie moved to centre and Scarlett Williams came on at wing defence with Ritchie at wing-attack.
After such a surging second quarter the home side looked more pedestrian and fallible in the third quarter. Northumbria seized their opportunity with some flowing and resilient play to win the quarter by 16-12. That left the the score at 42-32 with 15 minutes to play.
“We talked in the break at half-time about keeping the momentum and it was a bit disappointing that we dropped off a bit in that third quarter but I felt it was right to make the changes putting Summer on to make her debut and feel what it is like at this level and I thought Scarlett Williams came on well at wing-defence”, said Thirlby.
Thirlby reverted largely to her first half line-up for the final quarter. Akin to the red surge at Manchester United in previous seasons in the final 15 minutes of a cup game, the reigning Superleague champions saved the best action until last with Rosie Allison putting a string of long-range shots together to see Team Bath through to the win by 59-45.
“I was really pleased with the girls tonight’, said captain Guthrie who put in a strong performance in the mid-court. “We finished it off well and that will give us some momentum going into next week. There are some things that we can work on and it’s the beginning of the season so we have time”.
Thirlby added: “Respect to Northumbria. They played well and we knew that they would be a slicker outfit than previous sides from that franchise”.
Team Bath are the most successful team in Superleague history with five wins from the eight campaigns contested to date. Their next game is a week today at the Sports Training Village against Manchester Thunder (Friday 7 February at 18.45)
Coach Thirlby is anticipating having to make some difficult decisions in this season’s Superleague. “This is probably going to be the hardest year for me in term of selections, the competition for places is so high,” she said. “That’s a great place to be, but it’s going to give me some headaches”.
Carter Jonas are Team Bath Netball’s property partner. Skins provide the team with compression wear and Scheckters’ Organics supply of Organic Energy Drinks to Team Bath.
Quarter scores (Team Bath first):
Q1: 15-8 Q2: 15-8 (30-16); Q3: 12-16 (42-32); Q4: 17-13 (59-45)
GS: ,Rosie Allison GA: Pamela Cookey, WA: Yasmin Parsons, C: Mia Ritchie, WD: Serena Guthrie, GD: Ursula (Billy) Pritchard, GK: Stacey Francis
Bench: Artman Summer, Shaunagh Craig, Lauren Dent, Jenna Murie, Scarlett Williams
Changes: Q2: No changes; Q3: Artman – Bench – GK; Francis GK – GD; Guthrie WD- C, Ritchie C-WA, Williams B – WA, Parsons – WA – Bench, Q4: Artman – GK – Bench; Pritchard Bench – GD, Francis GD-GK; Parsons Bench – WA, Ritchie- WA – Bench
Coach: Jess Garland, Assistant coaches: Denis Ellis, Olivia Murphy
GS: Noleen Lennon, GA: Darcie Worsdale, WA: Marie Ewing, C: Caroline O’Hanlon, WD: Fionnuala Toner, GD: Georgia Beaton, GK: Leah Kennedy
Bench: Emma Woodings, Niamh Cooper, Michelle Drayne, Oonagh McCullough, Kayley Moss
Coach: Kate Carpenter, Assistant Coach: Lisa Stanley-Craig
Changes: Q2: No changes; Q3: Beaton GD – Bench, Toner WD – GD, Cooper Bench – WD, Mcullough Bench – GA, Q4 – no changes
The full 2014 Team Bath Superleague squad is:
Pamela Cookey – GA, GS
Rosie Allison – GS, GA
Shaunagh Craig – GS, GA
Lauren Dent – GA, GS
Yasmin Parsons – C, WA
Amanda Trounce – WA, C
Jazz Scott – WA, C
Mia Ritchie – C, WA
Serena Guthrie (captain) – WD, C
Scarlett Williams – WD, C
Stacey Francis (vice-captain) – GK, GD, WD
Ursula Bowers – GK, GD
Jenna Murie – GD, WD, GK
Sophie Masterson – GK, GD
Summer Artman – GK, GD
Tickets for the 2014 campaign are available now. For a full list of fixtures and for ticket information please go to http://www.teambath.com/sport/netball/fixtures-results/
You can find out more about Team Bath on our website teambath.com
You can follow Team Bath netball at twitter.com/TeamBathNetball
For further information please contact the Team Bath press office at Matchtight Ltd on 01225 383518 by email at firstname.lastname@example.org