Team Bath Netball take plenty of positives from “exceptional” first three quarters against Super League leaders Surrey Storm
A big final quarter gave Super League table-toppers Surrey Storm an ultimately emphatic victory but the scoreline didn’t reflect a much-improved performance from Team Bath Netball.
A 1,700-strong crowd at the Team Bath Arena saw the Haines Watts-sponsored Blue & Gold produce plenty of fight, flair and belief during the first three quarters, with just a goal or two separating the teams in a couple of periods as they made the visitors work hard for their 55-45 advantage.
However, Storm raced away during a one-sided final quarter which they won 25-9 to seal an 80-54 victory, their biggest win of the season to date.
Team Bath Netball Head Coach Asha Francis believes there was plenty for her squad to take from the game, saying: “We just produced three quarters of exceptional netball against a top side who should be winning the championship this year. The fourth quarter was more information about where we are at when we don’t have that momentum – we need to see how we can regain that feelgood factor for ourselves or what we can do as coaches from the bench to reignite that on court.
“Outworking the opposition was one of the things we have been looking at and we absolutely did that tonight in three of the four quarters. We chased down every ball, we fought for every rebound, we didn’t make life comfortable for Storm. They made errors you probably wouldn’t expect.”
Ali Wilshier, named as Team Bath’s Most Valuable Player, added: “The end score doesn’t show it but I thought it was a massive step up from us tonight in the first three quarters. Each week we are seeing progression and that’s what we will take from the game.”
Team Bath had been challenged by Francis to fight for every ball after last week’s defeat to Severn Stars and they did just that during a breathless first quarter, going toe-to-toe with the league leaders during a match sponsored by King Edward’s School Bath.
The hosts forced the first turnover as they raced into a 3-0 lead and they maintained their advantage under midway through the quarter when Storm edged ahead for the first time at 6-5. However, they were never able to get more than two goals clear as Team Bath produced a brilliant team performance.
Kadeen Corbin was at the heart of it, the goal-attack relishing her battle with former team-mate Layla Guscoth and playing with her trademark flair as she linked superbly with Wilshier, Bethan Dyke and shooter Betsy Creak, who netted on the buzzer to ensure there was just one goal separating the teams at the break.
Storm made a rapid start to the second period, though, and quickly stretched their lead to 23-17 by rattling off five unanswered goals. Team Bath switched things up in defence, with Jayda Pechova coming on at goal-defence before moving to goal-keeper later in the quarter, and the remainder of the half was much more competitive as the Future Roses star, Imogen Allison and Dyke all made tenacious interceptions to fire up the crowd.
Corbin and Creak were also in fine form at the other end of the court but, with Proscovia Peace settling into her metronomic shooting rhythm for Storm, the visitors were able to eke their half-time lead out to 39-31.
Malawi captain Caroline Mtukule was introduced at the start of the third quarter for her Super League debut along with shooter Hannah Passmore, while Kirsty Harris came on at wing-attack midway through the period, and all made a good impact as Team Bath continued to make Storm work hard for their advantage.
Passmore twice scored three goals in quick succession to cut Storm’s lead to seven but the visitors were able to reply in kind, including netting the last three goals of the quarter to edge another competitive period 18-16 and extend their lead to 55-45.
Artman, Catling and Creak were reintroduced for the fourth quarter along with goal-attack Sophie Kelly, who was going up against the club for whom she made her Super League debut aged 16. However, they couldn’t prevent Storm totally dominating the final 15 minutes as the visitors won the quarter 25-9 to seal an ultimately convincing victory.
Next up for Team Bath is a trip to face defending champions Manchester Thunder on Friday 17th March before they return to the Team Bath Arena to face Saracens Mavericks on Friday 24th March (7.30pm centre-pass). That is the first of five successive home games for the Blue & Gold, with tickets for all the matches available to purchase at netball.teambath.com/tickets.
Team Bath Netball is supported by its Principal and Pathway Partner, chartered accountants Haines Watts; Bath Building Society and Rengen Developments, who are overall Team Bath Partners; Centurion Chartered Financial Planners; Ecus Ltd, our environment partner; and PDS Coaching, who provide performance mentoring. Team Bath’s suppliers include O’Neills, 2XU and Pulseroll.
Team Bath starting combination: GS Betsy Creak, GA Kadeen Corbin, WA Ali Wilshier, C Bethan Dyke, WD Imogen Allison, GD Lily-May Catling, GK Summer Artman. Impact players: Jayda Pechova, Caroline Mtukule, Kirsty Harris, Sophie Kelly, Hannah Passmore.
Surrey Storm starting combination: GS Proscovia Peace, GA Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, WA Yasmin Brookes, C Mikki Austin, WD Amy Flanagan, GD Layla Guscoth, GK Leah Middleton. Impact players: Sophia Candappa, Niamh Cooper, Hannah Knights, Felisitus Kwangwa, Frankie Wells.
Quarter scores (Team Bath first): Q1 17-18. Q2 31-39 (14-21). Q3 45-55 (14-16). Q4 54-80 (9-25).
Most Valuable Player: Ali Wilshier.