Severn Stars 36, London Pulse 41

Severn Stars staged a second half fight back against London Pulse, but it was not enough to avoid a 41-36 defeat in a feisty fixture in the Vitality Netball Superleague.

Pulse carved out an early lead in the match, at Wakefield’s Studio 001, on Easter Monday (April 5), but the side significantly extended it in the second quarter.  Though Stars pulled it back late on, the team couldn’t recover the damage that had been done earlier in the match.

Both franchises have had a difficult start to the season and went into the match wanting to finish the first half of the season strongly. Severn Stars, following a win against Celtic Dragons, was having to deal with two injuries to key midcourters while Pulse was trying to bounce back from a loss against Wasps the day before.

Both teams’ defence started strongly, with two turnovers before the first goal. The attacking line-ups then began to settle into the game. Nia Jones, at goal defence, and Iman Thomas, at wing defence, for Stars were working hard on the transverse line, patiently waiting for space to open up in Stars’ attack. However, Pulse goal attack, Lefébre Rademan, was able to drive along the base line to provide options in Pulse’s shooting circle. Space for Pulse shooter Sigi Burger and an obstruction call on Stars’ wing attack Lucy Harris allowed Pulse possession, which they utilised well, finishing the quarter 12-7 up on Stars.

Stars rang the changes for the second quarter, with the reshuffle allowing Jane Taylor to enter for Stars at wing attack. The changes did not have the desired effect though, with Pulse’s lead stretching to six, and Stars Head Coach, Melissa Bessell, made another change during the quarter bringing Jamaican international Malysha Kelly into the defence. Errors crept into Severn Stars’ attacking play, with misplaced passes allowing Pulse’s lead to reach 12 goals. Bessell, trying to help Stars’ attack, which had only managed three goals in the quarter, then brought Ellie Gibbons on at wing attack. This helped put another couple of goals on the board for Stars before the half-time break, finishing on 24-12 to London Pulse.

A bright start from Stars saw them score two on the trot but, despite winning turnovers, goal attack Paige Reed struggled to convert on the long range shot. As an alternative for Stars, Gibbons, now on at wing attack, and Harris, now at centre, started to find shooter Georgia Rowe under the post, with some accurate feeds bringing the gap back to eight. Pulse responded with changes in their defensive end, bringing Lindsay Keable to goal defence, which seemed to halt Stars’ momentum swing and the third quarter finished with London Pulse still with a 33-23 lead.

As another Stars attack pass went astray, Pulse were able to confidently feed Burger, who showed strong shooting form. Changes in the Pulse attack in the middle of the quarter seemed to cause errors in communication and Stars pounced on the opportunity to bring the gap back to seven. A scrappy couple of minutes followed for both teams. Strength from Stars shooters Rowe and Reed brought the score back to five, but the damage had already been done by Pulse earlier in the game, who won 41-36.

Severn Stars Head Coach, Melissa Bessell, said: “I’m proud of the whole team today, proud of their composure, their control. We talk about netball being physical and I’m proud of the team for finishing so strongly with what they had to deal with today.”

Stars, a joint franchise between the University of Worcester and the University of Gloucestershire, next face Saracens Mavericks on Sunday, April 11, at 6pm. The match is available to watch on Sky Sports or the Sky Sports YouTube channel.