Coach's Corner: A Thunder Storm of turbulent netball
Passion, Persistence and Personalities!
By Anita Navin. Last Updated: 22/04/14 3:05pm
Manchester Thunder's Krista Enziano battles Team Bath's Stacey Francis for the ball. (http://www.brightiphotography.com/)
What a night of Netball as the top four teams in the ZEO Superleague did not disappoint.
Those in charge of the remote control on Monday night were sure to be glued to the TV with no intention of leaving 120 minutes of netball unattended. For the supporters In Manchester and Surrey it was the home advantage that seemed to provide a suitable platform for both Thunder and Storm to edge their way into the final in Worcester this Saturday.
There was an expectation and Team Bath looked like they might steal the away win after leading for a good 45 minutes - their squad will be bitterly disappointed they couldn't close out the game. Pam Cookey worked tirelessly and at times almost covered three positions with her dogged determination and flair. Her ability to take the ball mid-flight and descend to her favoured postion under the post repeatedly caught out the Thunder defence of Kerry Almond and Emma Dovey.
Serena Guthrie was once again a master in defence around the Thunder circle and her back-up ability ensured a raft of interceptions in the early part of the game. At one point, the Thunder crowd were seeing the match move out of their control before Almond went absolutely nuts on court and started flying out for the ball like no other defender.
This ability and commitment at the back oozed a changed mentality through the court and, suddenly, Thunder gained momentum and were rumbling and causing Team Bath turmoil.
The cool head of Helen Housby was once again critical and, paired up with Krista Enziano, the duo created more shooting opportunities - soon finding themselves tearing the game-plan of Bath’s defence apart in the final quarter.
Sara Bayman was forever at the helm supporting, challenging and steering her team to victory all in the space of a 15 minute quarter. Named as ZEO Player of the Match, Bayman is without doubt the driving force behind the team and her will to win on Monday caused Bath to sink slowly out of the driving seat.
"Almond went absolutely nuts on court and started flying out for ball like no other defender on the court"
Thunder coach Tracey Neville danced like nobody was watching after her side secured a place in the final but her respect for the opposition came through strong.
Then myself and Sky Sports headed south for the London Derby between Surrey Storm and Hertfordshire Mavericks. Tamsin Greenway’s unbeaten side were favourites but underlying whispers seemed to indicate the Mavericks could potentially ruin the season for the duck egg blues.
In a display of athleticism and dynamism, the Corbin sister act turned out to be a spectacle with some phenomenal passages of play to goal. The short game with speedy release points allowed the pair to dominate and leave the the Storm defensive unit struggling to match up. The creativity of the Mavericks through the court was evident, and the shooting long shot Sophie Hankin capitalised on this momentum to nail some of the longest in the game.
Layla Guscoth drained the energy out of Rachel Dunn in the first half as she struggled to set up and care for her back space in the shooting circle.Tamsin Greenway was taken care of and prevented from sending the lofted first time ball to Dunn on many occasions and looked incredibly frustrated. It was at a time like this that Greenway needed a firm conversation with a coach to allow her to re-focus and regain her composure but, as player-coach, that's difficult.
Then came the powerful Storm and it was third quarter blues for the Mavericks, who witnessed the resurgent opposition gradually re-enter the running for a place in the Super League final. Kat Ainsworth replaced Becky Trippick at Centre and Greenway sidelined her anger and frustrations and began to deliver those soul destroying feeds for any defender. Some unforced errors in attack and the mid-court for the Mavericks allowed the Storm to gain the lead and gradually run away with it.
Dunn was magnificent in the latter stages of the game after such a tough contest with Guscoth. Spectators witnessed her composure and determination of a world class shooter. Named as Player of the Match, Dunn will be confident of her ability to stand up to the best defenders and most of all will not fear the opposition in next week’s final against Manchester Thunder.
What a night of netball and this Superleague just gets better! Who do you tip to win in Worcester?
Don't miss the ZEO Netball Superleague Grand Final live on Sky Sports 3 from 5.30pm Saturday 26 April.