Team Bath netballers defeat Team Northumbria in Superleague
MATCH REPORT: Team Bath 61, Team Northumbria 35
Team Bath’s netballers kept that winning feeling going for the home fans on Friday with a solid but unspectacular Superleague victory over Team Northumbria at the University of Bath’s Sports Training Village.
Mia Ritchie, the all-action pocket-rocket in the mid-court for the home team, summed up the mood in the post-match camp when she said that they were “not as happy as we would have liked to be”.
“We didn’t put them under enough pressure”, she added.
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Team Bath coach Jess Thirlby agreed, saying: “We will be frustrated by the margin, especially with tough games to come at the end of Phase 1”.
Sport can be compelling when the underdogs unexpectedly triumph and Team Northumbria must have begun to dream when they raced to a 4-1 lead to provoke the odd worried glance amongst the home fans.
It was enough to stir Team Bath into action. Fighting back to level at 5-5, they added nine without reply before closing out the quarter 17-8 ahead.
“Amanda Trounce played very well in the last match and she deserved to start”, said Thirlby of her wing-attack, who was lively around the circle.
Stacey Francis snatched some influential intercepts at goal-defence to set the surge going. Meanwhile, a fascinating centre-court duel ensued between Northumbria’s rising England U19 star Claire Brown and current England centre Serena Guthrie for Team Bath.
Ritchie, at wing-defence for Bath, flew about the court to great effect despite taking a nasty knock in a clash with Guthrie.
Team Bath piled on the pressure in the second quarter to lead 33-17, although the visitors enjoyed their brightest patch in the final four minutes of the half.
The move of the game came minutes before the interval with a sweeping attack from Team Bath. Francis took the ball in defence, flung it to the fast-moving Ritchie, who passed rapidly to Guthrie before Pamela Cookey wrong-footed the defence to receive the ball in the circle and score.
Thirlby made wholesale changes for the third quarter. Yasmins Parsons came on at centre, with Rosie Allison taking over at goal-shooter. Trounce and Asha Francis were rested.
“It is important in matches like this to try options, especially with the injuries that we have. Sometimes that can cause disruption but it’s important to give as many as possible court-time”, said Thirlby.
A couple of long-range misses from Allison tipped the balance in favour of the visitors, who won a hard-fought quarter 11-9.
Chrissy Munro, an ex-Team Bath player, came on at goal-attack for Northumbria in that quarter but Team Bath still had a 42-28 lead with 15 minutes left to play.
Once again Thirlby shuffled her centre-court and also brought Kelly Morgan on at goal-defence. Allison, back from a month out with injury, found her range with some great long shots as the home side saw out the victory.
Team Bath’s remaining Phase 1 fixtures are both away – to Yorkshire Jets on Friday and Hertfordshire Mavericks on March 22.
The top four teams from the first phase will go into the Phase 2 league before semi-finals and finals decide the overall winner, and Team Bath are currently on course to progress.