A close encounter of the Mavericks kind!
This return fixture of this meeting was never going to be a casual encounter and the Hertfordshire Mavericks certainly typified their 'maverick mentality' on court on Monday night. That mentality once again reigned on court and it was the outsiders who once again almost sneaked a victory in the final ten minutes of the game.
Known for their late comebacks, Mavericks do live up to their name as the trendsetters in delivering a late surge for victory. However, it was the in-form Surrey Storm who held their lead in the final quarter to take the points and remain unbeaten so far.
It was the sheer determination, consistency and the accurate ball placement of Becky Trippick that wowed the commentators and she was named ZEO Player of the Match.
At times, Tamsin Greenway was closely monitored by Sam May and Camilla Buchanan and without any request Trippick assumed a lead role in connecting and servicing Rachel Dunn, the Storm shooting machine. It was an impressive performance by Trippick in the centre role and several key qualities were showcased by her on Monday night.
Her ability to anticipate the pressure and contest being faced by others ensured she stepped into a lead role, often switching with Greenway by moving swiftly through the mid-court area.
What Trippick is able to do, through an incredible ability to read the play in front, is adjust her movement into any area of the court after carefully noting the position of her colleagues in the attack or defensive unit. Several players at centre will often deliver the ball and follow it even though they are not an option for a double play and with congestion being the end result.
At times Trippick's work rate can go unnoticed and her contribution to both units of play. She might not be the one with the stunning interceptions but she is a most wanted player in terms of her ability to consistently execute a performance with limited errors.
Most notable in this game was her ability to place the ball accurately into the space for her team mates and in particular Rachel Dunn. It almost became the Trippick - Dunn power partnership last night and one that has clearly developed further as the season progressed. Trippick is resilient and has recovered from several injuries to remain one of the longest serving players in the top domestic competition.
What will it take to beat Surrey Storm?
The pairings have been talked about and on Monday night there was a strong second phase defence by Mavericks at the Storm centre pass mixed with a strong 2v1 on Greenway.
This was a useful tactic and did delay play for Storm but the wit of Greenway prevailed and she never lost her focus and winning mentality. Some may say she is slightly arrogant in her approach but this is the winning mentality that needs to be broken. She will withstand the tight contest no matter who or what forces her to the deck.
So it will take a like-minded individual who can contest within the rules of the game and most importantly not be caught by the subtle change of direction or sudden surge of speed to attack the circle edge. Greenway comes high in the mid court and this is the point where a double-team approach may just keep her out of the influential role in the Storm attacking unit.
Katy Holland and Hannah Reid are a force to be reckoned with in Storm's defence and wide rotation is the key along with sudden changes of direction.
At times we might refer to a zero phase which is where an attacking player marks up on their defender to close them out of a ball side position. This will be a useful tactic against the likes of this pair and the need for shooter out and ins, which allows a shooter to work the ball to goal.
Playing the short game loading one side of the court to draw the defence apart and then swinging the ball across the circle may open up a free side for the shooter to receive. At times the ball swing has been intercepted by this pair when they are both set in the circle against more static holding shooters and with the foot position unaffected by any sudden and sharp shooter movement or rotation.
Coach Greenway currently holds the master plan for success but which team and coach can set the game plan to conquer?
Who do you think can/will outwit Surrey Storm? Please get in touch by commenting below or follow me on Twitter @netballpundit