Saracen Mavericks 59-55 Severn Stars
Severn Stars opened their account for the 2023 Netball Super League season after defeating Saracens Mavericks 59-55 in a hotly contested encounter.
Camilla Buchanan’s side did however start the better side after clinical goal scorer Ine-Mari Venter converted two goals in quick succession, leading 18-15 at the end of quarter one.
Stars came flying out of the blocks in the second quarter as the attacking trio of Jess Shaw, Grace Namana and Sigi Burger began to find their stride, ending the first half 29-28 in favour of the Hertfordshire based side.
Quarter three saw Jo Trip’s side take the lead after outscoring their opponents by seven goals, heading into the final 15 minutes up by 47-41.
A resolute defence and formidable attack saw the Worcester franchise earn all three points after a 59-55 victory.
Stars began the encounter with the first centre pass, but Kira Rothwell wasted no time in setting the pace of the game after an early interception saw her side lead through Venter.
After conceding an early double, Burger bought Stars back into the game with a quick-fire double following a fierce interception and turn over by player-coach Trip.
Buchanan’s team continued to work the ball well, before Venter and captain Sasha Corbin combined to pull a four-goal lead.
Despite a year out of the game, Trip showed no signs of rust after rising to tip the ball out but Venter and Rothwell work the ball back into a shooting position and convert.
Stars, however, continued to fight with Shaw displaying her vision as she sent in a pin-pointed long ball into the arms of Burger, ending Q1 18-15 to Mavs.
Trip’s side made a change heading into Q2 as Lucy Herdman made way for debutant Rebekah Airey, with the head coach slotting into goalkeeper.
Stars began strong once again as Shaw does well to keep the ball on the court before laying it off to the attacking duo, Burger and Namana; the two combine to covert.
A mistake from Mavs allowed Stars to counterattack, where they capitalised and pulled the game back to just one goal before Burger equalised after winning a foul.
Goalkeeper Trip continued to display her presence after forcing another turnover with Burger putting her side ahead for the first time in the match.
Stars looked to draw a two-goal lead, but Jodie Gibson denied them after intercepting the dangerous ball; Venter converted the turnover.
Mavs headed into the break with a 29-28 lead.
With the game still very much in the balance, Stars earned an early turnover with Burger making no mistake in converting, following a perfectly weight ball by Shaw.
Venter looked for the long-range effort, but the ball only circled the hoop before Trip blocked the shooter from receiving the rebound, forcing the turnover in which her side scored.
Stars began to dominate Q3 after forcing Mavs into another mistake, cutting out their attack. Burger capitalised, creating a four-goal lead.
Buchanan looked to freshen things up in the attacking third as Georgia Lees replaced captain Corbin.
Mavs scorer Venter was again trapped out and forced to produce a long-range effort by Trip, but the Stars keeper collected the rebound, allowing her side to convert the turnover.
The firing Stars took six goal lead into the remaining quarter after finishing Q3 47-41 up.
Trip looked to her bench ahead of the remaining 15 minutes as Airey made way for 21-year-old Jess Haynes.
Mavs continued to keep a foot within the game as Gibson produced a vital interception, forcing a turnover; Venter converted to reduce the deficit.
However, Stars continued with their intensity as Trip forced Venter out wide, stealing the ball with a great interception, but Gibson once again prevented the counterattack.
Captain Gabby Marshall flew in with a vital block against her former side before sending her team away on the counter; Namana converted.
With five minutes remaining, Venter provided her side with hope as she brought the deficit to just four goals however a powerful ball in by Marshall saw Burger reinstated the five-goal lead.
Mavs stayed switched on in the final moments as they looked for the win, but Haynes ended that with two crucial interceptions.
A high-tempo second half from Stars saw Trip’s side come away with all three points following a 59-55 win.
Severn Stars’ Jo Trip was player of the match
Written by Grace Gunn
Photo by Clivejonespr.com