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R7: Stars Vs Rhinos

Heartbreak for Severn Stars in Thrilling Game Against Leeds Rhinos

Severn Stars fell to a 49-53 loss against Leeds Rhinos in a thrilling contest that saw them leading with 15 minutes to go.

The team led after the first quarter to the delight of the home crowd at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday (March 11), but in a swing of fortunes ended up down by five at the end of the second. Stars fought back for a slender lead going into the final quarter, but, despite an improved performance, it was the Rhinos who took the three points after four fast goals in the closing stages.

Stars started with high pressure as captain Liana Leota overturned play instantly with an interception to break Rhinos’ centre pass and put her side ahead after shooter Isabelle Eaton converted. It was the home side that shone brightest in the first quarter after Leota once again produced a no-look pass to find the arms of Eaton, who scored. As Rhinos looked to kickstart their game, Stars goal defence,
Lucy Herdman, was there to nullify their attack. A fast attack from Stars saw Leota find Eaton in acres of space to bring the game level at 12-12. The quarter ended with Stars ahead, 15-13.

In the second quarter, Rhinos showed much more intensity, and substitute Rebekah Airey proved to be the difference. Rhinos took the lead for the first time after a fast passage of play in the mid-court. Stars shooter, Katie Harris, helped her side equalize after keeping the ball in play and stabilizing herself to produce a high ball into the arms of Eaton, who sunk her shot. The pace of Rhinos’ attacks continued to be a threat, and an improved performance earned them the lead, 25-30, at the half-time interval.
Stars regained their strong form from the first quarter, with defender Dee Bolakoro making a crucial interception in the Rhinos’ attacking third before recycling the ball at pace. Three quick consecutive goals from Stars brought the game to within two and it was the home side that held the momentum. Leota and goal attack Paige Reed linked up well with fast play, enabling Eaton to convert to equal the match, and it didn’t take long for Stars to draw ahead after Reed converted the next two. But Rhinos continued to make their presence felt, with defender Airey there to intercept the play and provide a counterattack. It was all to play for as the third quarter drew to a close, 41-39.

Both sides came out of the blocks with high intensity in the final 15 minutes. Stars continued to lead by three and were in touching distance of the win. But Rhinos were not slowing down as shooting duo Amy Clinton and Sienna Rushton continued to take their chances, managing to draw the game level at 47-47. Rhinos defender Vicki Oyesola sprung into action to collect the rebound from Eaton’s shot and turned overplay. A nail-biting end saw Rhinos convert three consecutive shots to take the victory, 49-53.

Stars, a franchise jointly owned by the University of Worcester and the University of Gloucestershire, move on to the next game, at home to Loughborough Lightning at the University of Gloucestershire Arena on Saturday, March 19, at 6pm. Tickets are available at www.severnstars.co.uk.

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