Team Bath Netball made a winning start to the 2019 Vitality Superleague season as they beat Celtic Dragons 58-41 in the opening Super 10 match at Arena Birmingham.
There were impressive performances right across the court as the Sitec-sponsored Blue & Gold took control during the first quarter and went on to record a solid victory.
Great defensive pressure from Summer Artman, Eboni Usoro-Brown, Serena Guthrie and player of the match Imogen Allison provided the platform for Team Bath to produce some fluent and dynamic attacking play as they opened up a 19-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Dragons closed the gap to three with a spirited response but, with Rachel Shaw and her fellow mid-court players linking up brilliantly with Sophie Drakeford-Lewis and Kim Commane in attack, Team Bath continued to create plenty of opportunities which were clinically taken as they stretched their half-time advantage to 31-18.
The Blue & Gold took the opportunity to make some changes in the second half, with Australian shooter Beryl Friday and England U19 captain Chartie Curtis – a University of Bath Economics student, supported by a Santander Sports Scholarship – both coming on for their Superleague debuts.
They helped build on the lead as Team Bath won the third and fourth quarters, 14-11 and 13-12 respectively, to wrap up an encouraging start to the season.
Team Bath Netball Head Coach Jess Thirlby was pleased with the performance overall but said there was plenty of scope for improvement in the weeks ahead.
“I think there were some moments of magic in there but it’s the first run-out of the season and we don’t expect to be the finished article,” she said. “We have some fine-tuning to do ahead of Sirens but we were really pleased with the start, we just weren’t as clinical as we could have been in the final stages of quarters three and four.
“I think collectively our defence was fantastic. We created turnover opportunities throughout the court and there is an attacking mentality amongst our whole team, we want to win the ball back and get it down the other end of the court.
“We’re really pleased with the changes that we made and the players who came on. They earned the right to be on court with their performances during pre-season and they all made an impact. We weren’t quite able to get a consistent team performance across a quarter and that’s something we’ll be looking to address.”
Player of the match Allison added: “We’re really happy with that performance. It’s been a long pre-season, so it’s been good to get the first game out of the way and to get the win.”
Next up is a visit to Scottish franchise Strathclyde Sirens, who showed why they are being tipped as potential top-four contenders this season when they defeated Surrey Storm 56-38 at Super 10.