MATCH REPORT | Saracens Mavericks 51-59 Loughborough Lightning
Written by Erica Rosa Tapp
Mavericks unable to capitalise on early lead against current VNSL champions
With Loughborough in their away whites, and Mavericks in black, the chess board was set for a match of skill and strategy.
Fifth placed Mavericks made the first move, dictating play in the opening quarter with pace in attack and impenetrability in defence.
Second placed Loughborough responded with a couple of intelligent substitutions. Creativity from their Centre players, and height in their shooting circle, frustrated Mavericks’ game plan. Ultimately, the Black and Reds missed out on three valuable points in their campaign for a play-off finish.
Head Coach Kat Ratnapala reflected on the match:
“Disappointing that we couldn’t continue the consistency after the 1st quarter today against a resilient Loughborough side. We definitely had opportunities to bring the game back into contention with our defensive pressure in the third and fourth quarters in particular.
Britney Clarke once again stood up and took a high volume of shots with accuracy and Player of the Match went to Jodie Gibson for her continual grit and determination in the defensive end, who was relentless with her game.”
The home supporters in the Hertfordshire Sports Village were treated to the style of netball that characterises their team: fast pace, forceful defence and crowd-pleasing flair. In the opening fifteen minutes Ratnapala’s side were firmly in the driving seat, forcing loose passes and missed shots from the rattled VNSL champions.
Mavericks asked the same questions of the Leicestershire side in the second quarter but, regrettably, Loughborough began to formulate a response. Lightning brought on Panagarry to replace Williams and to recharge the champions’ attacking play. Emma Thacker replaced Liverseidge in the shooting circle giving her and Clark the vertical advantage.
Mavericks went into a much-needed half time break trailing Loughborough by two goals. But only two goals: the game was poised for the second half…
As play resumed Loughborough made yet another change to their Centre player, reinserting Hannah Williams to deny Saracens the opportunity to adjust to any one style of play. Panagarry came back on in the closing quarter: fresh legs and ever-changing play makers.
Quashie made some outstanding interceptions in the third quarter to interrupt Loughborough’s charge. However, a tiring Mavericks side were unable to convert those interceptions into points. As the third quarter ended Victoria Burgess’ team had extended their lead to 8 goals.
The Black and Reds refused to roll over in the final quarter. Georgia Lees came on for Sasha Corbin and fed balls up and over into Clarke’s dependable hands. Jodie Gibson, later awarded Version 2 Player of the Match, was subbed off for debutant Odiri Atirene (#100! Welcome to the team!).
Loughborough refused to relinquish their 8-point lead and closed out the game 51-59. A disappointing Bank Holiday weekend for Mavericks but onwards and (geographically) upwards as they travel to Glasgow on Sunday 8th May to play ninth placed Strathclyde Sirens.
Ratnapala is pleased to have “a full week of training ahead before our trip up north and are looking forward to righting some wrongs and ensuring we finish off games as we know we can.”
Saracens Mavericks starting 7: GS Britney Clarke; GA Kadeen Corbin; WA Sasha Corbin (C); C Beth Ecuyer-Dale; WD Gabby Marshall; GD Jodie Gibson; GK Razia Quashie
Replacements: Chloe Essam; Yasmin Hodge-England; Georgia Lees; Aliyah Zaranyika; Odiri Atirene
Loughborough Lightning starting 7: GS Ella Clark; GA Suzie Liverseidge; WA Hannah Joseph (C); C Hannah Williams; WD Beth Cobden; GD Francesca Williams; GK Alice Harvey
Replacements: Ella Bowen; Natalie Panagarry; Emma Thacker; Zanele Vimbela; Clara Miles
Quarter scores (Saracens Mavericks first): Q1 16-11; Q2 29-31 (13-20); Q3 38-46 (9-15); Q4 51-59 (13-13))