Saracens Mavericks 70, Severn Stars 49 
Errors in the second quarter cost Severn Stars in their opening match of the season, which saw them defeated 70-49 by Saracens Mavericks.
Despite a bright start, which saw Stars take an early six goal lead, this was turned on its head in the second quarter which saw a 16-goal swing to Mavericks, who gained a lead which ultimately Stars could not recover from.
Stars, a joint franchise between the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire, opened their Vitality Netball Superleague season on Saturday (February 22) at the Arena Birmingham as part of the Super10 event, where all 10 teams play under the same roof in one day.
The new look side were quick out the blocks in the first quarter after a goal-for-goal affair and were quick to make crucial turnovers from Mavericks to edge out an early lead. Stars’ attack, which consisted of Georgia Rowe, Paige Reed and new signing, former Silver Fern, Liana Leota, linked together nicely down court enabling their goals to go in.  But it was Stars’ goal keeper Towera Vinkhumbo who made herself present with a number of intercepts, ensuring they finished the quarter strongly with a six goal lead over Mavericks, 11-17.
The second quarter saw unchanged sides, but a string of errors from Stars allowed Mavericks back into the game to draw level thanks to a strong defensive performance, as Stars lost too much ball and didn’t turn over enough. Stars’ new Head Coach, Melissa Bessell, changed Lucy Harris at centre for another new signing, Bethan Dyke, to find answers to Mavericks’ run of goals, but could not do anything to stop the relentless scoring from Mavericks extending their lead to 34-25.
After the half-time interval early goals from Stars saw them try hard to close the gap, but Mavericks’ defence had other plans, disrupting feeds into the circle with Leota unable to find goal shooter Rowe at times. Ella Powell-Davies came on at goal defence for Ama Agbeze and Stars’ goal keeper Vinkhimbo continued to try and stop the flow of Mavericks’ attack with some flying intercepts. Stars were able to get more goals through the net this quarter with a high percentage of shots, but another strong quarter from Mavericks, finding England Roses shooter, Georgina Fisher, under the post allowed them to extend their lead over Stars, finishing the quarter 53-37.
Neither sides made changes going into the final quarter, which was a goal for goal affair, with Reed finding confidence in long range shots, but Mavericks with some early turnovers. Stars mid-court which consisted of Welsh internationals Nia Jones and Dyke connected nicely with Leota, who was able to find shooters, but at times the ball fell short of the net. Patches of quick play in attack from a well-established Mavericks team, who were able to link nicely with their shooters Fisher and Kadeen Corbin, to see out the match, 70-49.
Stars’ Head Coach, Melissa Bessell, said “The first quarter was outstanding and a great game to watch.  We learnt a lot today as a team, understanding that when you’re playing teams of this calibre, and you’re doing as well you are, they’re going to come back at you with a hard plan and we didn’t make any adjustments for that.  We have lots to work-on moving forward to the Manchester game next week.”
Stars next face Manchester Thunder at the University of Worcester Arena on Saturday February 29.
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Photos thanks to Andrew Taylor