Team Northumbria's hopes of a first Cooperative Netball Superleague Grand Final place were dashed today when the side lost 52 34 to Mavericks in the second round of playoffs at the EIS in Sheffield. Despite leading the league for much of the season, Northumbria found Mavericks’ international-packed line up simply too hot to handle. The win propels Mavericks into their third successive final, where they will face Loughborough Lightning, who won through in the first round of play offs.
Meanwhile, Team Northumbria will take heart from a season during which they shocked several of the best teams in the league, and established a new training and belief culture thanks to imports Kiwi Megan Hutton and Australians Elissa MacLeod and Lara McLeod.
With the England selectors maintaining a close watch on performances ahead of the forthcoming test series against Malawi, the internationals on court were keen to impress, with Mavericks captain Naomi Siddall once again putting in an eye catching performance to restrict the usually prolific McLeod to only 25 shots on goal for the entire game. England vice captain Karen Atkinson was also in excellent form, with only one more game to play before she travels to join the West Coast Fever in the new ANZ Championships down under, but it was an England U21 player, Monique Wood (who signed for Mavericks from TeamBath midway through the season) who was the match winner for the Hertfordshire side. Not only did she net 21/29, but she soaked up immense amounts of pressure from towering Kiwi GK Hutton, and combined well with Louisa Brownfield to keep the scoreboard turning in Mavericks’ favour.
The Grand Final of the league, England's leading domestic netball competition and already a sell out, takes place at the K2 in Crawley next Saturday, 5 April at 7.30pm.
Pictures by Kevin Jones show Mavericks’ Monique Wood and Karen Atkinson in action