Team Bath Netball will be looking for an instant bounce-back when they take on benecosMavericks in a televised Vitality Superleague match at London’s Copper Box Arena on Sunday (5.30pm).
Errors at key moments proved costly when the Sitec-sponsored Blue & Gold were beaten by defending champions Wasps last weekend on their return to Superleague action following the Commonwealth Games break.
Third-placed Mavericks also suffered a 54-41 defeat to Loughborough Lightning and Anna Stembridge, Team Bath Netball Head Superleague Coach, says that both teams will be looking for a positive response in front of the Sky Sports Mix cameras.
“We have set the girls a challenge because we know Mavs are going to give us a tough contest,” she said. “There is a lot of history between the two franchises and there have been some great games over the years, so I would expect this to be no different.
“Both teams will be looking to bounce back quickly and the fact it is taking place at the Copper Box, on the London Olympic Park, gives it an extra dimension. This will be our first regular Superleague fixture there and it is always a wonderful venue to play at.
“It’s a good opportunity for our London-based fans who might not be able to get to the Team Bath Arena regularly to come and cheer us on, it would be great to see plenty of Blue and Gold in the crowd.”
Team Bath will be able to call on captain Eboni Beckford-Chambers for Sunday’s game after she sat out the Wasps defeat following her key role in England’s Commonwealth Games victory.
“It was important we respected the recommendations of the England coaching team and look after Eboni, her wellbeing and duty of care is paramount to us,” said Stembridge. “It’s not just about the now, it’s about making sure she is in peak condition for the rest of the season.
“It’s been so good to have the whole squad back together this week, the girls are buzzing.”
Fellow England gold-medallist Kadeen Corbin started the Wasps game, as did Commonwealth Games duo Zanele Vimbela and Chelsea Lewis, but it was a frustrating return for the Blue and Gold against the current league leaders.
Trailing by six at half-time, they briefly closed the gap on Wasps in the third quarter before allowing them to stretch their advantage to 47-34 and eventually go on to win 61-44.
“We were disappointed as we made errors at critical times which allowed the score to blow out and the final margin was not a true representation of the game but credit to Wasps for putting us under that pressure and forcing those mistakes,” said Stembridge.
“There was an opportunity to keep the gap to just a couple of goals at the end of the first quarter but we allowed them to get five clear, then they stretched it to eight or nine in the second quarter. We pulled it back to four in the third quarter and were getting back into the game but conceded possession and missed shots at key moments.”
A major positive to take from the match was an assured Superleague debut from Abi Robson, who came on at wing defence – the latest player to progress through the Team Bath youth ranks into the senior team.
“Abi has been performing brilliantly for the U21s and in training and she certainly deserved her opportunity,” Stembridge added. “The first thing she did was intercept a Wasps centre pass and it was great to see her take that step up in her stride.
“It was important that all the changes were made to have an impact, not just to give players court-time, and everyone who came off the bench took their opportunity.”
After the Mavericks match, Team Bath have two home games at either end of the May Day Bank Holiday Weekend. First they welcome Celtic Dragons to the Team Bath Arena on Friday, May 4 (7.30pm) before hosting West Country rivals Severn Stars on Monday, May 7 (5pm).
Tickets for those matches and the five other remaining home Superleague fixtures are on sale now at netball.teambath.com/fixtures.
Team Bath Netball are sponsored by Sitec and supported by partners Mogers Drewett, Investigo and Netball South West. Centurion Chartered Financial Planners are supporting the team’s performance analysis capabilities, Viper 10 are their Sportswear Supplier and Skins provide the team with compression wear.
Lead photo shows the Team Bath Netball Superleague squad welcoming team-mates Chelsea Lewis, Zanele Vimbela, Kadeen Corbin and Eboni Beckford-Chambers back from the Commonwealth Games.
Courtesy of the Team Bath Press Office at Matchtight