Fantastic finale but Team Bath Netball comeback bid falls a goal short against Hertfordshire Mavericks
Team Bath Netball found their mojo in the final quarter of another thrilling Vitality Superleague match at the University of Bath Sports Training Village but fell an agonising goal short of denying Hertfordshire Mavericks victory.
Mavericks had led by nine going into the final 15 minutes before the Sitec-sponsored Blue and Gold finally found the form that had eluded them earlier in the encounter, closing the final deficit to just 46-45.
The visitors had seemingly put a strangehold on the fixture in the first three quarters, using the sizzling form in defence of former Team Bath squad member Summer Artman and in centre-court from Rose Morgan-Smith.
Mavericks led 9-14 and then 18-26 at half-time before easing out to 29-38 at three-quarter-time with Team Bath experiencing some unwanted spillages in their attack whilst struggling to contain the Mavericks attack.
Head coach Anna Stembridge deployed the full range of her 2017 squad for the first time this season as Jess Shaw – younger sister of Rachel Shaw – was back and fit.
She came on in the second quarter at wing-attack and, whilst she took a while to settle, was soon proving a handful for the opposition in tandem with flying centre Mia Ritchie.
More importantly even if slowly, the home side, roared on by a 1000-strong crowd, began to find their shooters with consistency and Jamaican international Shantal Slater found her range in a final quarter in which she slotted home six in rapid succession. However, it wasn’t quite enough as Mavericks held on.
Stembridge said: We’re absolutely gutted, we left ourselves with just too much to do. We were eight goals down at half-time and you can’t give teams like Mavericks that kind of lead.
“Don’t get me wrong, we still had belief we could win the game but it’s a big ask to turn around that kind of deficit, especially as their shooting was so on point. We kept battling right until the very end and I’m really proud of how we fought back but it wasn’t our night. It’s so frustrating and disappointing for the girls.
“On a positive note, I thought Jess Shaw was absolutely outstanding when she came on. She’s just coming back from injury but she had such a positive impact on our play and we saw today just what a talent she is.”
Shaw said: “It was lovely to be back out there and just a shame we couldn’t quite turn it around. It was a tough battle but we really pushed hard and the crowd were absolutely amazing, our eighth player.
“I feel we are building and hopefully we can take the momentum from that last quarter into our match at Loughborough Lightning on Monday.”
Some unwanted spillages in attack had contributed to Team Bath going into the first break five down on the visitors. Morgan-Smith provided a potent feed down the left side and into the circle in attack, whilst Artman, at goal-keeper, and Razia Quashie, at goal-defence, were lively in their defensive circle.
Imogen Allison, at wing-defence for Team Bath, produced some flying intercepts, but the home side struggled to reach their shooters, Slater and Chelsea Lewis, consistently.
Injury to Slater with ten minutes gone offered Team Bath’s Paige Read another opportunity to have impact at goal-attack with Lewis moving to shooter.
Read, who made her Superleague debut just a week ago, was herself substituted part-way through quarter two, though, as Coach Stembridge moved Rachel Shaw to goal-attack and brought her sister Jess Shaw on at wing-attack.
There were some more promising patches for Team Bath but Mavericks continued to pull ahead and led 13-23 with five minutes of the half remaining.
Artman continued to produce some eye-catching play whilst Rachel Shaw and Lewis were still often dislocated in their individual good intentions.
The younger Shaw found her pace and range for Team Bath in the third quarter and was instrumental in a good sequence which saw the home side draw within five points at 26-31.
Two long-range shots from the older Shaw just fell the wrong side of the rim and Mavericks pounced to go to 27-36 ahead. A feisty final few minutes of the quarter saw two quick-fire goals from the home side but the visitors went into the final break 29-38 ahead.
Just when it looked as if Mavericks would coast to a comfortable victory Team Bath found the pace and precision that they have been threatening but not finding in the past month. They put on four goals early in the quarter to close the gap to just five. At 37-41 down captain Eboni Beckford Chambers twice turned over the ball only to see it drift back to Mavericks.
It fell to Vangalee Williams, Team Bath’s other Jamaican, at wing-defence to make the decisive interception that sent the hosts on another three-goal spree to move the score to 40-43, much to the delight of a frenzied and loud home crowd.
Home centre Mia Ritchie was involved in a juddering mid-air collision with Mavericks’ goal-defence with just under three minutes remaining but recovered and rejoined the attack which brought the home side within two goals at 43-45.
A scoreboard clock misfunction added to the tension of the final few minutes as Team Bath moved to 44.45 only for Mavericks to keep their heads and find the net one more time. Team Bath picked up one further goal but found themselves in the defensive third of the court – with no option for a final attack - as the final hooter sounded.
This afternoon’s match was the second of four home fixtures for Team Bath during an action-packed April and May. They welcome Celtic Dragons on Saturday, April 22 (5pm) and Severn Stars on Friday, April 28 (7.45pm) before their big televised game against Wasps on May 8 (7.45pm). A first-ever home clash with Sirens will close out the home league season on May 19 (7.45pm)
Tickets for all those matches – priced £12 for adults, £8 concessions and £35 for family tickets – are available at www.teambath.com/events/ticketline
or by calling 0844 888 4412.
Friday’s match was preceded by the second match of the new U21 Netball Performance League season, also against Hertsfordshire. Team Bath got off to a slow start and couldn’t close the gap on the visitors who won 41-54.
Team Bath Netball are sponsored by Sitec, Mogers Drewett are their Education Partners, Centurion Wealth Management are supporting the team’s performance analysis capabilities, Surridge are the kit supplier and Skins provide the team with compression wear.
Team Bath Netball
Starting Seven: GS: Shantal Slater; GA: Chelsea Lewis; WA: Rachel Shaw; C: Mia Ritchie; WD: Imogen Allison; GD: Layla Guscoth; GK: Eboni Beckford-Chambers.
Replacements: Sam Cook, Paige Reed, Laura Rudland, Jess Shaw, Vangelee Williams.
Changes: Q1: Slater – Bench; Read – Bench – GA. Q2: Read GA – Bench; Lewis GA – GS; Jess Shaw Bench – WA; Q3: Williams – Bench – WD; Allison WD – Bench. Q4: Slater – Bench – GA; Lewis GS – GA; Rachel Shaw – GA – Bench.
Starting Seven: GS: Vicklyn Joseph; GA: Sophie Drakeford-Lewis; WA: Keshia Grant; C: Rose Morgan-Smith; WD: Zara Everitt; GD: Razia Quashie; GK: Summer Artman
Replacements: Halimat Adio; Michelle Drayne; Sophie Hankin; Lindsay Keable; Ashleigh Neal.
Changes: Q3: Neal – GA; Drakeford-Lewis – bench. Q4: Drakeford-Lewis – GA; Neal – bench.
Quarter scores (Team Bath first)
Q1: 9-14; Q2: 9-12 (18-26); Q3: 11-12 (29-38); Q4: 16-8 (45-46).