Surrey Storm were celebrating their first ever Netball Superleague triumph on Saturday evening as they brushed aside Hertfordshire Mavericks 56-39 in the Grand Final at the Copper Box Arena.
It was a case of fourth time lucky for the ladies in duck egg blue as they managed to overcome a three match losing streak on the biggest stage of them all and finally get their hands on the NSL trophy and to take the title of champions.
The mood in the Surrey camp was summed up by Player of the Match, Pamela Cookey. When asked her feelings on the winning the Grand Final, the England shooter simply exclaimed “We’re Champions!”.
Having overcome Manchester Thunder at the semi-final stage last weekend, the question on everybody’s lips was - could Mavericks spring another surprise?
In the opening quarter, there was a very real chance as the action was as tight and ferocious as one would expect from a final. Mavericks shot out of the block to steal possession from Storm’s opening centre-pass but the 2014 runners-up it back.
A run of five straight goals had Storm ahead and they retained the advantage at the end of the opening quarter, securing a 13-10 lead.
With nearly 6,000 fans crammed into the Copper Box, the arena was suitably bouncing with an even split encouraging their respective finalists yet applauding the incredible skill on display.
The sides traded blows in Q2 with each taking it in turn to go on scoring runs. Tamsin Greenway was starting to make her mark on proceedings and was combining excellently with Cookey and Rachel Dunn.
This time, when the excellent Mavericks defensive work from Sam May and Layla Guscoth managed to regain the ball, it was failing to find the net at the other end. At half-time Storm led 26-20.
Mavericks started the third quarter brightly but much like the previous half, mistakes would come back to haunt them. Some mesmerising hands from Kadeen Corbin found Louisa Watson but the veteran shooter failed to finish the move.
Resolute defending from Storm duo Katy Holland and Hannah Reid kept the opposition attack at bay as Storm continued to slowly extend the gap. Cookey remained composed in the circle to move her side 38-30 in front with fifteen minutes to go.
With the trophy firmly in their sights, Storm were desperate not to have a repeat of last year’s drama that saw them defeated in the last second. This time they put the game to bed early with a flurry of knockout blows early in Q4.
There was only one way for Mavericks to come back and that was to attack. This left space in the attacking end for Surrey and they were in no mood to pass up these chances.
As the match ticked towards the end, the heads started to drop from the ladies in purple and black. Despite a last ditch score from Watson, to the delight of their consistently loud travelling support, Mavericks were beaten.
This time, conceding a last second goal meant little to Storm and the emotion of exorcising the demons from 2014 was clear for all to see as player-coach Greenway dropped to her knees in a mixture of exhaustion, delight and shock.
It had been a long time coming but finally Surrey Storm were able to call themselves Champions and they are now the ones to be shot at when the 2016 Netball Superleague swings into action.
Mavericks starting 7: GS - K.Corbin, GA - Watson, WA - S.Corbin, C - Buchanan, WD - May, GD - Guscoth, GK - Hutchinson
Surrey Storm starting 7: GS - Dunn GA - Cookey WA - Greenway C - Msomi WD - Ainsworth GD - Holland GK – Reid
Umpires: Gary Burgess and Jackie Mizon with Lisa McPhail as reserve
Courtois Straight Through to the Semis
– Pauline Courtois leads after first day