There will be a new name on the Co-operative Netball Superleague trophy this year after TeamBath, champions for the past two seasons, lost 50-37 to Mavericks in the minor semi-final of the competition at the Ponds Forge Sports Centre in Sheffield today.
The win, which avenges Mavericks’ losses to the same opposition in the past two Grand Finals, moves the Hatfield-based side into the minor final in two weeks time, where they will face Team Northumbria for the opportunity to move through to the Grand Final. Meanwhile, TeamBath leaves with nothing.
Mavericks’ win was once again founded on a solid defensive display, with England captain Amanda Newton restricting her international colleague Pamela Cookey to only 29 shots on goal for the entire match. Newton’s England colleagues and Mavericks’ team mates Naomi Siddall and Clare Elsley were also impressive, shutting down the space available to TeamBath’s pacy attack, and their stifling defensive work disrupted the TeamBath rhythm. Mavericks ended the first quarter 14-10 ahead.
Sasha Corbin replaced her England colleague Jo Binns at WA for TeamBath in the second period, and her pace and interplay with Cookey brought TeamBath back into contention, creating more chances to feed from the circle edge. Mavericks faltered, and with Bath taking the quarter 11-8, the fixture was tantalisingly poised at 22-21 in Mavericks favour at half time.
Mavericks’ coach Maggie Jackson juggled her line up for the second half, moving Karen Atkinson back to her usual WA position, and reintroducing Deb Jones at C. The changes settled the Mavericks’ playing style, giving the Hertfordshire-based side more motion around the circle edge, and with Brownfield and Wood now finding more space in which to work, Mavericks moved ahead with some ease. Newton’s close attentions were making Cookey work incredibly hard for every ball, and with Siddall now shutting down the space available to Delves, Mavericks took the quarter 16-6 to lead 38-27 at three quarter time.
TeamBath refused to lose their title without a fight, and in a gritty final period, gave their all to turn over possession and retake the advantage. England U21 players Serena Guthrie and Eboni Beckford Chambers, in particular, made several key interceptions, but with Mavericks’ swarming centre court defence turning over the resulting possession, the advantage was lost. Captain Cookey gave her all, netting a string of goals to keep TeamBath in the hunt, but the advantage was now with Mavericks and Brownfield scored 8/9 in the final quarter to put the result out of reach for last season’s runners up.
Mavericks will now face Team Northumbria in the minor final on 29 March 08, with the winner qualifying for the Grand Final on 05 April 08 at the K2 in Crawley. Meanwhile, TeamBath will rue a season in which they were affected by a string of injuries and players lost to the World Championships and the ANZ Championships in New Zealand.
Starting line ups:
TeamBath: GS Delves, GA Cookey, WA Binns, C Bayman, WD Guthrie, GD Seaton, GK Beckford Chambers
Changes/substitutions: 2nd Q: WA Corbin, 4th Q: Binns to WA
Mavericks: GS Brownfield, GA Hall, WA Atkinson, C Jones, WD Elsley, GD Newton, GK Siddall
Changes/substitutions: 2nd Q: WA Muller, Atkinson to C, GA Wood (following injury time out) 3rd Q: Atkinson to WA, Jones to C
Umpires: Dawn Heron and Janice Treasure
Picture by Alex Broadway/SWpix.com