Team Bath Netball showed their strength in depth and remain unbeaten (Image: Ben Lumley Photography)
Team Bath Netball prevailed over Wasps Netball 44-39 in round three of the Vitality Netball Superleague on Monday, while Surrey Storm beat Celtic Dragons in Wakefield.
The victories for Bath and Storm concluded another outstanding weekend of domestic netball, as the sport continues to thrive on its return.
All 11 teams now have another busy week of training before the fourth round returns on Sunday, with four back-to-back matches, live on the Sky Sports YouTube channel from 12pm.
- VNSL 2021: Fixtures, coverage and results
- Watch Vitality Netball Superleague on Sky Sports
With Wasps Netball coming off the back of an agonising 44-43 defeat at the hands of Loughborough Lightning, a reaction was expected. Meanwhile, Anna Stembridge’s outfit arrived unbeaten and with Layla Guscoth having been announced in their match-day squad for the first time.
|Wasps Netball||Team Bath Netball|
|GS – Rachel Dunn||GS – Kim Borger|
|GA – Katie Harris||GA – Sophie Drakeford-Lewis|
|WA – Sophia Candappa||WA – Rachel Shaw|
|C – Iona Christian||C – Serena Guthrie|
|WD – Amy Flanagan||WD – Imogen Allison|
|GD- Fran Williams||GD – Tash Pavelin|
|GK – Josie Huckle||GK – Eboni Usoro-Brown|
Bath put the first three goals on the board and although Wasps then settled slightly, Eboni Usoro-Brown and Serena Guthrie secured key turnover ball, which helped Bath create an 8-3 cushion.
As the quarter continued, Wasps Netball tried to chip away but their opponents maintained their five-goal advantage at the first pause.
Eboni Usoro-Brown 👏👏@TeamBathNetball are off to a flying start!
— Sky Sports Netball (@SkyNetball) February 22, 2021
In the second 12 minutes, Bath continued to capitalise on turnovers, while Wasps Netball found life hard going in their attack end. Tash Pavelin got the better of Katie Harris and the feed into Rachel Dunn wasn’t easy to come by.
A 19-10 down, Mansfield brought on Gezelle Allison at GA, Ella Powell-Davies at WD and moved Amy Flanagan to C. Bath didn’t let these changes rattle them, though, and maintained their form to go into half-time break 25-15 ahead.
Now THIS is how you make your #VNSL comeback 🙌
It took @LaylaGuscoth less than a minute announce her arrival on a Superleague stage 👏
Class is permeant 💪 pic.twitter.com/CbmPX8Munv
— Vitality Netball Superleague (@NetballSL) February 22, 2021
Guscoth arrived after the interval and immediately showed her class, while Wasps Netball stuck with their amended line-up for the start of the third quarter.
The half-time break did little to quell Bath’s enthusiasm or flow, before Wasps started to work them out as the quarter went on and they matched each other at 11-goals apiece.
Mansfield’s team took confidence from that and chipped away at Bath’s lead in the final 12 minutes. Harris returned to court and showed great personal resilience to stamp her authority on the latter stages.
Wasps cut the margin to five goals with the same number of minutes to play, but once Bath’s Sophie Drakeford-Lewis slotted a crucial goal, the contest was over and Bath’s victory secured.
Vitality Superleague – Round Three fixtures & results
|Sunday||Surrey Storm 44-50 Leeds Rhinos Netball|
|Celtic Dragons 35-52 Strathclyde Sirens|
|Manchester Thunder 57-30 London Pulse|
|Loughborough Lightning 60-35 Saracens Mavericks|
|Monday||Celtic Dragons 40-56 Surrey Storm|
|Wasps Netball 39-44 Team Bath Netball|
Storm take on Austin’s words
Earlier on in the evening, Surrey Storm got back to winning ways with a 56-40 result against Celtic Dragons.
Prior to the match, Mikki Austin had urged her team to be more ruthless and keep hold of the ball. After analysing their narrow defeat to Leeds Rhinos on Sunday, they clearly had a point to prove and flew out of the blocks to establish a 7-3 cushion.
At both ends the shooters shone, as Storm found player of the match Karyn Bailey at GS with relative ease, while Dragons were indebted to Amy Clinton’s clinical finishing. As the first 12 minutes came to its conclusion, Dragons closed to within four of Storm and went into the pause 15-11 down.
At the start of the second quarter, Dragons started to produce more turnovers and the contest was increasing in intensity by the minute. Yaz Parsons then dispelled the view netball isn’t a physical sport after taking a ball to the face and hardly blinking!
Still, Dragons remained heavily reliant on Clinton, but Rebekah Robinson’s growing influence at GA helped the Welsh franchise reel off three goals without reply and reduce the arrears to 27-22 at the halfway point.
Listen to the reaction from Karyn Bailey, Mikki Austin and Tania Hoffman after the contest
The typically defining third quarter proved to be Storm’s undoing against Leeds Rhinos, but with Austin entering the fray at centre, they stretched their lead into double figures for the first time in the contest.
I was really proud of the process they put out at each quarter. I thought each quarter we grew into the game and I was so proud of the way they adapted. We were so tactical with that game, and I wanted to be really specific to see how they would adjust.
Bailey continued her indomitable form under the post and, although Dragons built up some momentum to record their best scoring quarter, they still trailed by eight goals, heading into the final quarter 42-34 behind.
Storm’s 16-year-old Sophie Kelly enjoyed another sprightly cameo in the closing stages, having impressed on her Superleague debut last week.
Dragons were forced into a substitution of their own, as GK Annika Lee-Jones demonstrated her dual-end qualities to replace an injured Clinton.
Alima Priest and Leah Middleton began to dominate their defensive duels in the absence of Clinton, and Storm stamped their authority in the final 12 minutes, sealing it by eight goals to wrap up a convincing victory.
Sky Sports is your home of netball. The Vitality Netball Superleague continues on Sunday with four back-to-back matches, streamed on the Sky Sports YouTube channel from 12pm.