Severn Stars were defeated on the road 62-48 by a Saracens Mavericks side determined to make their case for a place in the top four.
Despite positive play that saw them leading after the first quarter, Stars were unable to live with Mavericks as they stepped up their game in the final quarter, which allowed them to pull decisively clear.
This was a must win match for Mavericks to stay in contention for a top four spot, but it was Severn Stars who started the game, at the University of Essex, on Saturday (April 27) clinically, showing good control all down court. There was a welcome return for Iona Darroch, who had missed the Easter Big Weekend due to illness. She made some flying interceptions in the centre court and good link up play with Lucy Harris, Maryka Holtzhausen and Georgia Rowe in the attacking end. The relationship that defensive duo Jodi-Ann Ward and Sam Cook have developed over the season showed as the pressure in the circle increased, making it harder for Mavericks to score. This helped Stars to end the first quarter 11-13 up on the home side.
However, Mavericks’ defence were playing a tight game, with Jo Trip making two vital turnovers in the Stars’ attacking end, which enabled them to pull in front. Holtzhausen’s long range effort right on the whistle of half-time however brought the gap back to five at the half-time interval, at 30-25.
The start of the third quarter saw Stars’ Ella Powell-Davies move to centre, Iona Darroch at wing attack and Leah Kennedy, who made her Stars debut last weekend, on at wing defence, making it a more defensive line up. It took a while for the new line-up to settle, and Mavericks capitalised on this, pulling away to an eight goal lead. Thanks to some amazing interceptions from a whole court defensive set up, Stars managed to pull it back to 45-41 at the end of the third quarter, winning the third quarter by one, finishing off with a five second centre pass to goal move that Holtzhausen scored on the whistle.
An unsettled start to the fourth quarter from Stars saw Mavericks pull away again. A flamboyant pass from Mavericks’ Corbin into the circle lifted the home side as did fresh legs taking to court from the bench. Paige Reed entered the game at goal shooter, replacing Georgia Rowe, and quickly added to the score sheet, but Mavericks had secured a comfortable lead by this point. Stars applied pressure right until the final whistle, but could not find a way back and the home side took the victory 62-48.
Stars player Iona Darroch said: “We knew Mavericks were going to be tough opposition to beat. It was great to be able to challenge them for three quarters and there were several times where we could have gone ahead and pushed on but we didn’t capitalise on our chances. Mavericks came out fighting in the fourth quarter and it was disappointing that we couldn’t adjust to stay in the game. I think we showed a lot of improvement though from our game against them earlier in the season and there were a lot of positives to take into our final game this week.”
Stars next face Wasps Netball at the University of Worcester Arena on May 4 in their last game of the season. For tickets visit www.ticketline.co.uk/netball-superleague-severn-stars#bio.