Severn Stars 47, Team Bath 48
Severn Stars suffered a heartbreaking defeat, going down 47-48 against South West rivals Team Bath, in the final seconds of the match for the second time this season.
The team gave the perfect response to defeat two days previously, taking a 10 goal lead at one stage, and, with six minutes to go, were three points in front.
But, in a tight last 30 minutes and frantic finale at the University of Worcester Arena, relentless pressure from Team Bath saw them net a dramatic winner with less than 10 seconds left on the clock.
It was Bath that started brightly in the Vitality Netball Superleague fixture, with goal attack Sophie Drakeford-Lewis in fine form, helping her side to pull clear 5-10 midway through the first quarter.
But a spirited Stars rallied and began to find their rhythm towards the end of the quarter, storming back to level the game at 11-11 with goal shooter Eleanor Cardwell dominating.
Stars ended a lively first quarter, with centre Laura Malcolm’s clever, acrobatic pass as she stretched to keep in a loose ball teeing up goal attack Maryka Holtzhausen who levelled the game 13-13 on the buzzer.
The home side carried that momentum into the second quarter, with Cardwell evading the tight marking of England international goal keeper Eboni Beckford-Chambers to help the hosts to bag seven goals without reply in the first five minutes
At midway through the quarter the lead stood at 26-16, but a tactical substitution for the visitors saw goal shooter Chelsea Lewis introduced for the final five minutes of the half.
Lewis’ composure in front of the basket saw momentum switch back in favour of the visitors, who managed to cut the deficit to just four points.
Stars began to fade towards the end of the first half, and a resurgent Team Bath cut the deficit to just two points, with the hosts heading into the interval with a slender 27-25 advantage.
After a fiery start to the third quarter, Stars managed to keep up the pressure, with wing defence Sam Cook’s flying interception and goal defence Jodie Gibson’s long-range pass allowing the unmarked Cardwell to net to edge the hosts three goals in front.
The hosts put on a determined defensive display, evidenced by Sam Cook’s impressive block and Maweni’s clever interception, which culminated in a decisive breakaway, from which Cardwell netted to see Stars finish the third quarter 39-36 in front.
But, a stubborn Team Bath defensive line stifled the service to Cardwell in the final third as the visitors edged their way back into the game, levelling it at 40-40 with nine minutes of the match remaining.
Stars, roared on by an enthusiastic home crowd, continued to battle and some swift attacking play allowed Cardwell to cleverly evade her markers to calmly net to extend Stars’ lead to three with six minutes remaining.
But, in an end to end finale, the visitors pushed Stars deeper and eventually heavy pressure allowed them to take the lead with just three minutes remaining.
A frantic last few minutes ensued, but Cardwell levelled the game with less than 30 seconds remaining, seeming to set up overtime, before Lewis netted a dramatic winning goal.
Stars’ Head Coach Sam Bird said that she was proud of her team despite the defeat.
“It was another massively close game, but I have to say our performance was outstanding and I’m really proud of the team,” she said.
“We went away to Mavericks on Saturday and we were really disappointed with how we performed. But to come back with one day’s rest and put in a performance like that is just outstanding.
“Of course, we’ve got to turn these tight games into wins, but it’s difficult to be frustrated with the squad because we’ve come so far with our performances from last season and I’m proud of them.”
Image credit Lindsey Dowthwaite Photography