Anna Stembridge was pleased to see a youthful Team Bath Netball squad produce a highly-competitive performance against Severn Stars in their final external friendly before the 2021 Vitality Superleague season.
The Blue & Gold – sponsored by Principal Partners Haines Watts alongside Team Bath overall sponsor Rengen – made the short journey to Worcester on Saturday without their England internationals involved in this week’s Vitality Netball Legends Series and the vastly experienced trio of Kim Borger and Rachel Shaw, who were rested as a precaution, and Eboni Usoro-Brown, who is following a post-partum return to play programme.
That meant the average age of the travelling squad was just 21 but the 12 players – a mix of Superleague squad members, training partners and Academy players – all performed well in an entertaining match that saw Team Bath lead in the first three quarters before Stars came through to win 59-53.
“It was a really good run-out and for lots of reasons,” said Team Bath Superleague Head Coach Stembridge. “We were able to get everyone out on court for at least two quarters each against a strong Stars side and the match was closely fought from start to finish.
“We were also able to expose two Academy players to that level of competition and they took it in their stride. Molly Hole, who captained England U17 last season, was up against an experienced Welsh international in Georgia Rowe and Lily Jones only missed one shot against a very good defence – you can’t fault that kind of composure from a shooter of her age.
“It was only our second match against external opposition this pre-season and our first away from home, so it was really pleasing to get that under our belts. A huge thank you to Stars for providing a really safe environment for us to play in.”
A live stream of Saturday’s friendly is available to watch on demand via the Severn Stars YouTube channel.
Team Bath’s Superleague squad will continue honing their preparations in training and will be rejoined late next week by the five players taking part in the Legends Series – England quartet Imogen Allison, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Layla Guscoth and Serena Guthrie, and Summer Artman who is representing the Superleague All-Stars.
The Legends Series, which will be played behind closed doors but broadcast live on Sky Sports, replaces the originally planned Jamaica series that was postponed due to extended travel restrictions between the two nations. Matches will take place on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday (January 20th at 6pm, 22nd at 6pm and 24th at 6.30pm).
Guthrie, who will co-captain England, said: “A huge thank you to England Netball and the Vitality Netball Superleague clubs for supporting this exciting concept at such short notice. It is a proud moment for English netball to see everyone pulling together and showing a united front for the good of the game.
“Without the support of the clubs, we wouldn’t have any matches this month – it’s that simple. This series is bigger than all of us, it’s about the fans, the players, the clubs and the whole netball community. We couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it all.”
Stembridge added: “The Legends Series is a really exciting concept and we are really pleased to see so many of our players involved in such a high-quality match-play environment ahead of the new Superleague season.”
Team Bath Netball is supported by its Principal Partner, chartered accountants Haines Watts, who are also a pathway partner, and by Rengen Developments and Centurion Chartered Financial Planners. O’Neills are Team Bath’s official kit supplier.