Leeds Rhinos 56, Severn Stars 55
Severn Stars made a stunning comeback against Leeds Rhinos in a thrilling encounter that went down to the last 30 seconds.
One mistake from Stars in possession saw them lose the chance to take the lead and instead fall behind by one goal, ultimately losing 56-55.
Severn Stars’ Bethan Dyke took the first centre pass, at the English Institute of Sport, in Sheffield, however Rhinos’ Vicki Oyesola was alert to Liana Leota’s long ball and intercepted to overturn play. The home side carved out a lead, but Stars’ goal attack Paige Reed got the away side on the scoreboard.
Unforced errors from both sides saw an up and down passage of play, but it was Stars who capitalised after Iman Thomas picked up the loose ball and played the ball through to Reed who forced a penalty and converted.
As the quarter drew to a close, Stars upped their intensity with a quick passage of play through to shooter Cat Tuivaiti, but Rhinos were quick enough to create one final attack, beating the buzzer to go 16-10 up.
Rhinos were the first to break in a goal for goal start to the second quarter, as an interception from Stars provided Tuivaiti with the chance to lower the deficit to five. With the pressure intensifying, Stars’ Reed controlled the ball with a great one-handed take before scoring to keep her side in the game.
However, Rhinos didn’t take their foot off the gas as Amelia Hall continued to link up with Burger. Despite an interception by Stars defender Dee Bolakoro and subsequent goal, the home side led by six at half-time, 31-25.
Stars started strongly after the interval instantly pulling two goals back and a third came soon after with Dyke alert to Jade Clarke’s centre pass, reclaiming possession for her side to take it to 32-28.
Just as Stars looked to gain on Rhinos, a series of unforced errors allowed the hosts to renew their six goal advantage after consecutive feeds once again from Hall. As the minutes of the third quarter ticked down, Stars had one final attack, bringing the score to 47-41.
The comeback was on in the last quarter as Stars capitalised on an unforced error from Rhinos that Tuivaiti converted. The visitors continued to push after a no look pass from Tuivaiti went to Reed, who brought the game to just five.
Bolakoro produced another vital interception and her side capitalised, scoring back-to-back goals, though Rhinos also added to their goal tally.
In the closing stages, Bolakoro intercepted a looping pass, producing a rapid counterattack for Reed to equal the match. It would all come down to the last goal, with Stars on centre pass. However, a misplaced pass from Stars resulted in a turnover for the hosts, who took the win, 56-55.
Stars next face Loughborough Lightning away on Saturday, May 21, and their last game of the season follows against Strathclyde Sirens at the University of Gloucestershire Arena on May 29.
For more information on Severn Stars, which is a joint franchise between the University of Worcester and university of Gloucestershire, or coming matches please visit www.severnstars.co.uk.