Team Bath get Showdown off to strong start with 65-39 win

15th April 2013

Team Bath buried memories of their only Superleague defeat this season by thrashing Surrey Storm 65-39 at the University of Bath tonight (Monday).

Team Bath topped Phase One of the Superleague with Surrey Storm finishing second. But with Storm winning the Phase One fixture between the two teams 61-46, the signs suggested we were in store for a close encounter at the Sports Training Village.

But starting with a seven featuring five players just back from England’s 3-0 series win in Jamaica, Team Bath produced a stunning display of strong defence, slick passing and deadly accurate shooting to win their opening Superleague Showdown fixture by 26 goals.

They return to action with another key home game against Hertfordshire Mavericks on Thursday (18 April).

Stacey Francis, one of the five players who played in England’s series whitewash of Jamaica, said: “Last time we played Surrey, everyone had a bad day in the office all at the same time.

“Coming back from that, we had a point to prove, not just to ourselves, but also to the opposition. We did that for three-quarters today.”

Jess Thirlby, Team Bath head coach, praised her team’s defensive strength against Storm. “We’ve been working in training on defending as a team and everyone contributed tonight with a seven-man defence,” she said.

But she said there is still plenty for the team to work on in training.

“Every game is important and there’s still a lot to work on,” she added. “We need to improve our consistency of providing options in attack and our decision-making throughout the 60 minutes is still a bit up and down.”

It was Storm that opened up the better in the opening exchanges of tonight’s game, forging a 6-3 lead early on, largely through the unerring accuracy of Bath graduate Rachael Dunn.

But, inspired by some powerfully athletic interceptions from Stacey Francis and slick passing through midcourt, Team Bath were soon back in the game, taking the lead at 8-7 through Kadeen Corbin after eight minutes.

Team Bath then stepped up the pace, scoring four more times without reply to stretch their lead to 12-7 as errors started creeping into Storm’s game.

Dunn kept the visitors in the match though as the quarter ended 14-10 to Team Bath.

Team Bath stepped up the pace again in the second quarter, with Samantha Cook and Stacey Francis getting the better of the battle with Storm’s shooters, and with Guthrie, Ritchie and Parsons effervescent in midcourt.

Corbin and Cookey continued to shine in the shooting circle, with Corbin turning on the style with some great trickery. Corbin stretched Team Bath’s lead to 19-11 and Cookey took the score to 22-13. It was Cookey who netted the final goal of the quarter to give Team Bath a 33-18 advantage at the halfway mark.

Storm shuffled their pack in quarter three, surprisingly sidelining Dunn. But while it wasn’t all one-way traffic, Team Bath once again dominated proceedings with Stacey Francis, Guthrie, Parsons and Ritchie all combining neatly to feed Cookey, who calmly converted to take the score to 42-21 as Team Bath doubled their lead of the visitors.

Cookey and Corbin were unstoppable in the shooting circle and Team Bath ended quarter three 50-25 up.

Both teams made changes in quarter four, six from Storm, while Thirlby introduced Asha Francis, Amanda Trounce and Gemma Stewart.

Storm briefly surged, but the game had been won long before. And when captain Asha Francis’ converted with the final touch of the game, it meant Team Bath shaded the last quarter 15-14 to win all four quarters.