Surrey Storm Netball overcame a first half scare at Surrey Sports Park on Saturday to cruise past Yorkshire Jets and book a place in this weekend’s 2015 Superleague Grand Final.
Tight first and second quarters saw Jets creep into the lead at half time, only for a pair of Coach Greenway inspired subs to turn the game on its head in the 3rd and allow Storm to take on step towards the dream of lifting the league trophy.
With full respect of the opposition, who took 3rd in the table after only looking matches to Storm and Hertfordshire Mavericks, a familiar starting 7 was named for the match and the task was clear- stop the ball from reaching top scorer Lottysha Cato.
It didn’t take long to release how much of a task that would become. The visitors picked up an early turnover to break the deadlock, which Cato finished off with confidence to hand them a 4-6 lead. A footwork call against Jets allowed Dunn to level at 6-6 before a mis-placed centre pass at the end of the quarter allowed Jets to take a one goal advantage into the break.
The 2nd quarter opened with a goal-for-goal period as neither pair of shooters missed an opportunity to score. The Storm defence were growing impatient with Cato’s consistency but the pressure paid off with 4.40 left on the clock as Jets missed their first shot of the quarter, allowing Dunn to take a double at the opposite end and hand the hosts the lead at 30-29.
Possession changed hands twice in just a few seconds in the mid-court to keep the fans on the edge of their seats and it looked like Storm would take the lead into the half time break, only for a sloppy pass in the attacking third allowing Jets to turnover late and steal a 34-36 lead to take back into the dressing rooms.
Coach Greenway made a pair of changes at half time, bringing Josie Huckle on at GK (moving Hannah Reid to GD) and Amy Flanagan on a WD. It was at this point of the match which the table turned. Brierson launched the ball off court for Storm to take possession and score a double to re-take the lead at 40-38. A string of interceptions followed as Huckle, Reid and Flanagan worked tirelessly to close out the Jets attack and with a few minutes the hosts found themselves with an 8 goal lead.
Huckle pulled off another interception to close the quarter as Storm put 22 goals on the board against Jets’ 9 in Q3 to take a 56-45 lead into the final period.
The momentum immediately continued to flow in Storm’s favour after the break as Flanagan pulled out two interceptions for the shooters to convert. Jets were still working hard all over the court and failed to give up hope of a late comeback but Surrey were on top form and full of confidence late on in the match, and closed out the 76-60 to book their spot in the 2015 Superleague Grand Final.
Surrey Storm will now face Hertfordshire Mavericks at the Copper Box Arena this Saturday (6.10pm centre pass), which will be their 4th Grand Final in 6 seasons, for the chance to secure their first ever league trophy. Tickets are on sale now via www.surreystormnetball.co.uk.
[Pictured: Rachel Dunn challenges for the ball against Tuaine Keenan. Credit Gary Baker]