Saracens Mavericks produced another outstanding performance to back up their win over Wasps and beat Team Bath Netball for a second time this season.
Kat Ratnapala’s outfit, who went into the Round 19 contest having been the only side to have beaten Bath previously, started extremely quickly and didn’t let up.
Their 46-35 victory potentially came at a cost though, as Beth Ecuyer-Dale and Razia Quashie both left the court injured during the latter stages of the fourth quarter.
Aside from their injury concerns, Mavericks’ win adds greatly to their hopes of making the one remaining play-off place their own.
Mavericks, Strathclyde Sirens, Wasps and Leeds Rhinos Netball are the four teams vying for fourth position. Team Bath Netball, Loughborough Lightning and Manchester Thunder have already qualified for the play-offs.
The positive for Ratnapala and her squad is that they are the ones with the opportunity to secure the greatest number of points by the end of Round 20 and the regular season.
Vitality Netball Superleague’s race for the top four
Earlier on Sunday, Sirens also did all that they could to press forwards and take fourth, by beating Dragons 53-34. Meanwhile, Wasps’ Round 19 contest against Surrey Storm was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test within Wasps’ squad.
It was also announced on Sunday that Rhinos’ players and staff are having to isolate after a positive COVID-19 result in their ranks. They weren’t scheduled to play a fixture during Round 19, due to it being one of their bye weekends, and the Vitality Netball Superleague will update on both situations in due course.
Vitality Netball Superleague – Round 19 fixtures and results
Mavericks maintain form to do Bath double
This season, Saracens Mavericks’ consistency has been their Achilles heel and yet on Sunday afternoon, they were able to reach the heights that they needed to, for a second round in succession.
“It meant a lot to us,” Ratnapala said, after their 11-goal victory over Bath.
“The players put their hearts and souls out on court today. We can all talk about a disrupted season, and that’s what it’s been for us, but I’m just really proud of the connections out there on court today. It was great.”
From the start, as Ratnapala highlighted, Mavericks clicked in both attack and defence. Jodie Gibson and Quashie were consistently a step ahead of Sophie Drakeford-Lewis and Kim Borger, while Ine-Marie Venter and Kadeen Corbin worked within their own goal third and shooting circle superbly.
A 12-5 first quarter set the tone, and it forced the first of Bath’s personnel changes. Anna Stembridge introduced Betsy Creak at shooter and moved Borger out to GA.
The unit looked more comfortable, however Gibson elevated her level further in the second quarter and showed why she was a key part of England’s 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning squad.
From their position of power at half-time, with a 10-goal lead, Mavericks pressed for much of the third quarter and frustrated Bath.
Serena Guthrie, Layla Guscoth and Eboni Usoro-Brown did as much as they could in defence, but their work wasn’t rewarded at the other end. Drakeford-Lewis had arrived at WA, but even her speed couldn’t generate the magic ingredient Bath needed.
The second half was tighter on the scoreboard, but as the clock ticked down, Mavericks’ belief grew and grew.
They hit 40 goals with just over five minutes left, as they maintained their tempo and converted their centre passes to goal. Passes that hadn’t stuck in previous matches, found their recipients, and errors just weren’t present in their work.
In all, the only downside to Mavericks’ 48 minutes on court at the Copper Box Arena, were the injuries to Quashie and Ecuyer-Dale, which will need to be assessed.
Sky Sports is your home of netball. The Vitality Netball Superleague continues with Round 19 on Monday, with two matches back-to-back on the Sky Sports Mix and streamed on the Sky Sports YouTube channel from 5pm.
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