17 year old Jo Harten maintained her focus and composure to score the last minute goal which propelled Mavericks into this year’s Netball Superleague grand final with a 40-39 win over Loughborough Lightning. The victory sets up a repeat of last year’s Grand Final, where Mavericks will face reigning champions TeamBath.
Harten’s goal came at the end of a scintillating and absorbing match, played in front of a capacity crowd at the Hertfordshire Sports Village, which Mavericks led until the 58th minute of the game. From the start, Mavericks’ England stars Karen Atkinson and Louisa Brownfield were in superb form, pushing the home side out to a 12-7 lead at the end of the first period, and maintaining their composure despite the rising tension as Loughborough clawed their way back into the game.
For the visitors, England star Ama Agbeze was dominant in defence, while Jade Clarke gave the Mavericks’ centre court a challenging work out throughout the game. Loughborough’s Welsh international shooter Becky James was superb throughout the game, netting 16 of her side’s goals, but the visitors’ surge came too late, and Mavericks edged through to set up next weekend’s title decider.
Mavericks coach Maggie Jackson was pragmatic about her side’s win: “You can only win it when you’re in it,” she said after the game. “We played 15 minutes very well, but we know that we must improve across the court if we are to challenge for the title next weekend.”
This was the second successive play off defeat for Loughborough Lightning by Mavericks: in last year’s competition, Loughborough lost 44-46 in a double overtime thriller.
The Grand Final is to be played at the Spectrum Centre, Guildford, on Saturday 9 June 07, with play starting at 5.45pm. The game is to be broadcast live by Sky Sports.
Picture, by Kevin Jones, shows Jo Harten shooting during the Netball Superleague game between Mavericks and Loughborough Lightning.
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A Gutsy performance from both sides