Severn Stars travelled to Birmingham for the Vitality Netball Superleague Spring Showdown weekend at the Resorts World Arena.
The first game this weekend for Severn Stars saw them face Saracens Mavericks. Although it was a Mavericks home game, the Birmingham central venue feels like a home away from home for Stars.
Stars and Mavericks came out of the blocks firing as the two sides looked to open their scoring with Liana Leota and Paige Reed linking up with a fast one-two pass. Stars created the turnover of play as Dee Bolakoro intercepts Mavericks play but their defence read the play and regained possession for the home side. Mavericks worked the ball well in the attacking third finding their Goal Shooter Britney Clarke well to increase their lead. Despite the late passage of play between Leota and Tuivaiti, Mavericks led 13-8 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter started with several turnovers forced across the court from both sides but equally both struggling to convert until Mavericks netting under the post. Sasha and Kadeen Corbin from the Mavericks attack linked up well produced an intelligent looping pass over Herdman for Clarke to convert. With limited time left in Q2, Summer Artman replaced Bolakoro in the goalkeeper role and was straight into action as Herdman outjumped the goal shooter after the Stars substitute applied pressure to the Mavericks attackers. The first half ended 31-19 to Mavericks.
Stars remained unchanged going into the second half and they looked for an instant reply through Tuivaiti after producing another no look pass across the third. However, Stars attackers Bethan Dyke and Reed try to play a low ball on edge of the shooting circle, but Mavericks defender Jodie Gibson read the game and intercepted to turn over play as Clarke scored. The Mavericks tempo increased as they looked to create a quick passage of play before Artman leapt in to cut out the danger. Stars, looking to overturn the play, produced a long ball to find Tuivaiti. The former Silver Fern played the ball out to the substitute Katie Harris who scored her first shot. With only 15 minutes to go, Mavericks held a firm lead of 46-32. Heading into the final quarter
As Stars head coach Bessell’s side tried to find their break, Mavericks defenders Razia Quashie and Gibson tracked the run of Katie Harris which left Tuivaiti in space where Dyke found her and capitalised. A series of fast build up plays between Mavericks mid court saw Clarke and K. Corbin link up to convert their 50th goal of the game
As the game drew to an end, Stars remained determined as Artman read Maverick’s shooter Chloe Essam’s low no look pass to overturn play as her side moved at pace. Michelle Drayne then found Harris who beat the buzzer to convert final shot of game. The Mavericks took all three points as the game ended at 58-44.
The second game Severn Stars faced Wasps in a thrilling West Midlands Derby.
Stars had just under 24 hours to rest up and prepare for the second game of the weekend at the Spring Showdown.
It was a strong start for Stars going 3-2 up after 5 minutes thanks to a turnover from Lucy Herdman at Goal Defence. Tables soon turned as Wasps went 2 goals ahead but turnovers from the Stars defence soon put the home side back in front ending the first quarter 13-11.
Stars continued where they left off in the second quarter with the midcourt linking well together which saw a Liana Leota special no look pass finding Katie Harris home alone under the post. Wasps were the first side to make any changes to the squads where a flurry of changes were made to find some answers against a flowing Stars side. At the end of the first half, Wasps began to fight back putting some late goals on the scoreboard, but Stars ended the quarter on a high 25-20.
Stars made one change going into the second half with Paige Reed replacing Katie Harris. Both teams were forcing errors and turnovers from each other, but the link of Stars shooters Cat Tuivaiti and Reed worked well in the circle under the pressure of Wasps defenders Josie Huckle and Rachel Fee helped to stretch out Stars lead. Stars still maintained their lead after the quarter 40-35.
The final quarter opened with another goal-for-goal quarter from both sides, but Stars still maintained their lead. The Stars defence continued to work hard in the circle forcing errors for the Wasps side. Wasps’ defender Rachel Fee went down with an ankle injury which gave all the players time to breath in a highly contested match. A final intercept from Artman which converted in a on-the-buzzer goal from Reed to secure the win for Severn Stars 56-47 over Wasps.
Severn Stars Centre Bethan Dyke was awarded player of the match who said “It’s been a tough two days, we were really disappointed with our performance on Saturday, but it was great to put out a four quarter performance today against Wasps. We knew our error rate was high against Mavericks so we really just wanted to look after the ball in our game today.”
Severn Stars play another local derby next week with south-west rivals away to Team Bath next Saturday 23rd April.