Team Bath Netball stretched their winning run to three Superleague matches with a comprehensive 63-24 victory over Team Northumbria at the Sports Training Village on Friday.
The home side took time to get going during the first quarter but, inspired by player of the match Asha Francis, really stepped up a gear in the second period to extend their lead from 12-9 to 29-11.
With victory all but secured, Team Bath played with freedom and confidence in the second half – scoring ten unanswered goals at one stage – as they beat Northumbria for the second time this season.
Team Bath head coach Jess Thirlby was delighted with both the result and performance, saying: “That was really pleasing – to win any quarter 17-2 is impressive, no matter who you are playing.”
“The game marked the start of the second half of the season, so it gave us something to compare with last time we played Northumbria. We beat them by 16 back in January, so there is a clear improvement there.”
“I was happy we were able to take our game plan to the court as well. It has taken some time but we are starting to see real cohesion between the units. You get a sense that everyone is confident, everyone is stepping up.”
Thirlby started with the same seven who had played the full match in last week’s nail-biting 45-43 home win over Loughborough Lightning.
On Comic Relief evening, the players in Blue and Gold came on to the court wearing red noses.
However, they took time to get going during a first quarter which saw Northumbria – who had only arrived at the Sports Training Village one hour before the game started due to traffic problems – open the scoring through Lisa Bowman. She went on to score all the visitors’ points during a period which saw the lead exchange hands on several occasions until three Rosie Allison goals in quick succession, plus one from Asha Francis, saw Team Bath open up a 10-7 advantage.
They eventually went into the second quarter with a 12-9 lead but stretched that to 29-11 by half-time after a much-improved performance. Captain Francis provided the inspiration, showing dead-eyed accuracy to score four rapid-fire goals and put the hosts firmly on the front foot.
“My main role is to try and create space for Rosie but it is also my job to go for goal when I can and I couldn’t seem to miss at the start of the second period –I don’t know what happened,” Francis laughed.
“It always takes a bit of time to work your way into the game, you have to get the basics right before pushing on, but I felt we stamped our authority in the first quarter and that allowed us to perform like we did for the rest of the match.”
With Team Bath’s passing and movement looking much sharper, Allison began to find space in the circle and went on to score 11 times during the second period, including two fine rebounds after rare misses from Francis.
Northumbria’s passing was much looser and the only moment of real concern for defenders Sam Cook and Stacey Francis was when the latter clattered into the visitors’ bench, knocking over a member of the coaching staff. Fortunately neither was hurt.
With such a comprehensive lead, Team Bath coach Thirlby was able to make some changes at half-time, with Mia Ritchie – who had been involved in a physical battle with Fionnuala Toner – moving from centre to wing-attack.
Kyra Jones came on in her place and Allison was replaced at goal-shooter by Shaunagh Craig, who was making her first appearance this season but slotted seamlessly into the action as Team Bath’s dominance continued in the third quarter. She scored 13 times – including five without reply in the closing stages – as the hosts extended their advantage to 48-18.
Namibia international Toetsie Kambatuku – who had started the game at goal-attack but was benched for the second quarter – scored all seven of Northumbria’s goals after replacing Bowman at goal-shooter.
She also produced some good finishes in the fourth quarter but not much was going right for the visitors by this stage of the evening and it was just a matter of how wide the winning margin would be.
It proved to be 39 goals as Craig and Rachel Shaw – who replaced Asha Francis at goal-attack for the final quarter – combined to well and truly take the game away from Northumbria, scoring ten unanswered goals between them at one stage.
Team Bath’s next two matches are televised, away to Surrey Storm on Tuesday (8pm) and at home to defending champions Manchester Thunder on Monday, March 30 (7.45pm).
Carter Jonas are Team Bath Netball’s property partner, Surridge are the Team Bath kit supplier and Skins provide the team with compression wear.
GS: Rosie Allison; GA: Asha Francis (c); WA: Rachel Shaw; C: Mia Ritchie; WD: Claire Brownie; GD: Stacey Francis; GK: Sam Cook.
Bench: Scarlett Williams, Shaunagh Craig, Lauren Dent, Kyra Jones, Yasmin Parsons.
Changes: Q3: Alison GS – Bench; Craig Bench – GS; Jones Bench – C; Ritchie C – WA; Shaw WA – Bench. Q4: Shaw Bench – GA; Parsons Bench – WA; Ritchie WA – C; Jones C – WD. Brownie WD – Bench.
The Full 2015 Team Bath Netball Superleague squad is:
Rosie Allison, Sam Cook, Bessie Manu, Mia Ritchie, Scarlett Williams, Jenna Murie, Rachel Shaw, Lauren Dent, Claire Brownie, Asha Francis, Kyra Jones, Jazz Scott, Stacey Francis, Shaunagh Craig, Yasmin Parsons.
Coach: Jess Garland. Assistant coach: Denis Ellis.
GS: Lisa Bowman; GA: Toetsie Kambatuku; WA Caroline O’Hanlon; C Fionnuala Toner; WD Emma Woodings; GD Nicole Styles; GK Leah Kennedy.
Bench: Marie Ewing, Hattie Grant, Beth Johnsen, Kayley Moss, Ellie Smith.
Changes: Q2: Kambatuku GA– Bench; Moss Bench – GA. Q3: Grant Bench – WA; O’Hanlon WA – Bench; Bowman GS – Bench; Kambatuku Bench – GS. Q4: Ewing Bench – Centre; Kennedy GK – Bench; Styles GA – GK; Toner C – WD; Woodings WD – GD.
The full Team Northumbria Superleague squad is: Lisa Bowman, Toetsie Kambatuku, Hollie Linighan, Kayley Moss, Natasha Hampshire, Beth Johnsen, Ria Small, Caroline O’Hanlon, Marie Ewing, Hattie Grant, Fionnuala Toner, Emma Woodings, Hayley Mulheron, Leah Kennedy, Nicole Styles.
Coach: Lisa Stanley-Craig. Assistant coach: Victoria Burgess.