Team Bath Netball showed tremendous resilience and character as they beat fellow semi-finalists Hertfordshire Mavericks in one of the most exciting Vitality Netball Superleague matches of the 2016 season.
The two teams went toe to toe throughout an absorbing encounter that finished 44-44 after 60 minutes, with Lenize Potgieter levelling for the visitors in the dying seconds.
With no tied games in the league, the match went to two additional seven-minute periods where Team Bath were able to forge into the lead before holding on for a notable 55-54 success.
Victory at the Hertfordshire Sports Village kept alive Team Bath’s chances of a top-two finish and a home semi-final but it was the nature of the win that most pleased Head Coach Anna Stembridge.
“It was a really great display of netball from both teams and an amazing game to watch,” she said.
“We have spoken a lot about being able to stay with the top teams and go goal for goal with them. There have been a number of matches this year where teams haven’t won until the dying seconds, so it was important for us to show we can do that and also put in a strong performance as well.
“I genuinely believe we deserved to win that match based on our display and it was important to keep building our momentum as we head towards the semi-finals.”
Mavericks started the day as league leaders and had won 52-46 when they visited the University of Bath Sports Training Village last month.
However, Team Bath – backed by Carter Jonas – have grown in resilience as the season has progressed and that showed as they won the opening quarter 11-10 before maintaining their one-goal advantage at half-time.
Mavericks hit back in the third period and threatened to pull away but the visitors, inspired by a sterling defensive display from captain Eboni Beckford-Chambers, again dug deep and closed the gap to 34-32 going into the final quarter.
They quickly drew level and then went goal for goal with their opponents before a vital steal from Claire Brownie in the closing seconds set up South African shooter Potgieter to send the game to extra-time, where Team Bath were able to claim a battling victory.
“Lenize’s leveller in the dying seconds summed up the composure and resilience of our team,” Stembridge added.
“We started really well but then there was the kind of response that you would expect from such a strong team as Hertfordshire Mavericks. They came out firing in the second half but the girls kept fighting.”
Team Bath conclude the regular season with a trip to fifth-placed Loughborough Lightning on Saturday (6pm), while second-placed Mavericks host third-placed Surrey Storm.
Mavericks also have to travel to table-topping Manchester Thunder next Monday (April 25) in a match that was rearranged after a flooded court curtailed the original meeting earlier this month.
With just three points separating the teams in second, third and fourth, the final make-up of the play-offs on Saturday, April 30 is still very much up in the air.
“We probably won’t know until next Monday who we will face in the semi-finals but it all adds to an exciting Superleague,” Stembridge said.
“The quality of players coming into the league this season has really raised its standard and made it very competitive.”