Thunder 58 – Mavericks 51
New look Saracens Mavericks fall to narrow opening defeat
This may have been one of the biggest build ups to a Superleague season yet… 2019 Super 10, Birmingham Arena! All 10 teams debuting they’re 2019 squads under one roof for a highly anticipated first game of the season. However, for the mighty Mavericks, this really was a ‘first’…the first time stepping out in public and on to court as the new ‘prestigious’ Saracens Mavericks.
It was a big week after announcing the huge new partnership, with phones, emails and social media exploding with excitement. This potentially added to the pressure of playing in arguably the hottest contested game of the day!
Four games down and with Birmingham Arena still buzzing, Saracens Mavericks stepped on to court against fellow previous-Superleague champions, Manchester Thunder. Thunder’s starting seven, didn’t cause any surprises with a seriously strong and established group taking to the court for the first 15 minutes. Saracens Mavericks first 7 of 2019 was a strong mix of youth and experience with George Fisher taking the GS bib, Kadeen Corbin at GA, Sasha Corbin WA, Gabby Marshall in C, Michelle Drayne WD, Lindsay Keable at GD and Jo Trip GK.
The first quarter saw Thunder hit the scoreboard running with the opening two goals, Leota and Turner showing some class connections. It took Saracens Mavericks a few minutes to respond but with five minutes gone and S.Corbin having the type of vision that Specsavers would promote, she found her sister K.Corbin with a slick long range pass from the centre third to underneath the post. This lifted the team into a better run, however with five more shooting opportunities than us, Thunder pipped the quarter 12-16.
Q2 saw no changes from either side and with typical “opening game of the season” sloppiness from both sides, Saracens Mavericks were the team to put the first goals on the board. A better connection and better footwork from Keable and Trip in the circle made life a bit trickier for the Thunder shooting combo, however Saracens Mavericks were not always able to convert the pressure to possession. Ball handling errors and miscommunication saw Saracens Mavericks have a low scoring quarter with Thunder almost doubling the amount of shooting options. This sent Mavericks 22-30 (Q.10-14) down going into half-time.
With heavy words from Head Coach & Director of Netball Kat Ratnapala at half-time, the second half saw Mavericks step out on to court with a slightly different air about them. We saw Razia Quashie enter into GK, Trip move out to GD, Marshall from C to WD, S.Corbin to C and Georgia Lees make her debut in a Saracens Mavericks dress at WA. Defensively the trio of Marshall, Trip and Quashie instantly had an impact, disrupting the Thunder flow and forcing them in to the lowest centre pass conversion rate quarter of the whole game – sitting at just 56%. Mavericks started to service Fisher in the shooting circle with much more accurate passes and enabled her to shoot with ease to finish the quarter on 100% stats (13 from 13). Saracens Mavericks took full advantage of this momentum and finished the quarter with an impressive 17-15 quarter score, to take the end of the 3rd period to 39-45.
With one final push and not wanting to leave anything on the court, there were no changes for the Mavericks going into the final 15. There were moments of pure brilliance, with Quashie coming out for flies, Lees and the Corbins finding beautiful space for Fisher and Marshall showing world class vision and precision with feeding. All signs of good things to come for the mighty Saracens Mavericks. With game one finishing in Thunders favour and the final score sitting at 51-58 (Q.11-13), it was a hugely encouraging game for Mavericks, with a real glimpse of what the season could hold.
Director of Netball & Head Coach, Kat Ratnapala said after the game, “For our first run out as Saracens Mavericks, there was some really slick and exciting passages of play but against a top side such as Thunder we needed more consistency, opportunities at goal and our error rate was far too high. This is just the start of our journey however and I’m excited to see us continue to grow this season. Our next match is against Surrey Storm in Guildford and I’m already looking forward to that game”.
POTM Gabby Marshall
Fisher 35/39 – 90%
Corbin 14/17 – 82%