Written by Grace Gunn
Severn Stars picked up their fourth win of the season on Friday evening after securing their first ever victory against Leeds Rhinos following a thrilling final quarter.
It was the home side, Rhinos, who led after the opening quarter as former Stars shooter Paige Reed put her side 17-16 up.
The closely contested match continued into the second quarter but again it was Liana Leota’s side who held a 29-27 lead at the half time mark.
Still looking to close the gap, Jo Trip’s Stars continued to apply the pressure in quarter three but again trailed 39-38 with just 15 minutes left on the clock.
With it all to play for, it was Stars who snatched all three points after securing a 51-53 victory in the closing stages.
Stars opened the scoring through former Rhinos’ shooter Sigi Burger, who netted against her previous club. The two sides went goal for goal as former Stars’ scorer Paige Reed also converted against her old team.
The away side created problems for Leota’s side as their defensive resoluteness forced Rhinos to work around the shooting circle before Reed struck a long looping goal.
Continuing with her great form, Trip forced the Rhinos attack into an error, but the Stars counterattack was halted after an Elle McDonald interception.
A composed centre pass routine between Gabby Marshall and Jess Shaw allowed Stars to draw the game back to just a one goal margin at the end of the first quarter.
Both sides remained unchanged in Q2 with Stars’ defensive stability continuing to slow down Rhinos’ attack but McDonald’s rapid ball in found Brie Grierson in space to score.
The Worcester-based side began to increase their tempo as Shaw won back possession in their attacking third, with Grace Namana slotting her shot in.
Rhinos’ Vicki Oyesola proved to be a handful for the Stars attack as the defender cut out the dangerous ball in from Marshall, setting her side away.
The first change of the game came as Sarah MacPhail made way for Rachel Fee. Soon after, captain Marshall regained possession high up the court, before sending her side away with Burger scoring.
A closely contest first half ended with a buzzer beater from Reed as they earnt a two-goal advantage, leading 29-27.
Stars wasted no time in overturning the two-goal deficit as they found themselves ahead but Rhinos kept up the pressure as they netted their 30th goal.
A rapid start to the third quarter as Fee forced a turnover for her side after picking up the loose ball but Michelle Magee earnt a back line throw in after Burger tipped the ball out.
A serious of individual errors from both sides see Stars regain possession before Burger converts her shot following a feed in from Namana once again.
Stars looked to break away at speed but another crucial interception from Oyesola provided the away side with the throw in. Burger received the ball and made no mistake in scoring.
With just a one goal advantage once again, Rhinos were looking to earn their first win of the season with just 15 minutes left.
Both sides flew out of the blocks for the remaining quarter as they looked to take all three points, but it was Stars who started the better side as Burger continued her clinical shooting.
Again, Stars were on the charge as they put themselves two goals up after Trip drew a penalty, turning over the direction of play.
Stars’ Shaw continued to pressure Rhinos as she played a quick ball in to pierce through the defence with Burger converting before Haynes intercepted a dangerous shot in the Rhinos send but Reed scored following the back line pass.
In the closing stages, Namana looked to feed the ball around to Burger, but the defence cut it out before Reed scored to draw the game to just a one goal deficit. The deficit was short lived as Reed brought it level.
A held ball from Reed in the attacking circle allowed Stars to break away, drawing a two goal lead, earning them a fourth win of the season and beating Rhinos for the first time.
Stars’ captain Marshall picked up player of the match.
Photos by Matthew Merrick