SEVERN Stars chief Sam Bird has called on her side to be more consistent after a heartbreaking 51-49 defeat to London Pulse in the curtain-raiser for the new Vitality Netball Superleague.
With just two minutes to go, Stars and league debutants Pulse were level with the teams having been neck and neck for much of the second half, but Pulse took the victory in the final seconds.
Stars opened their season on Saturday (January 5) at the Arena Birmingham as part of the Vitality Netball Superleague’s Super Ten event, which brings all 10 league teams together under one roof on one day.
Although a new team, Pulse have recruited a raft of Superleague experience and were led by Australian Ash Neal as well as Jamaican shooter Shantal Slater.
The game was end to end for the first half, with Stars struggling to break through the Pulse mid-court zone and the London side were 15-13 in front at the end of the first quarter and went in at the half-time break 26-22 ahead.
Bird made one change at the interval, bringing on the experience and cool head of Welsh international Cara Lea Moseley at wing attack. Moseley started to link seamlessly with fellow Welsh international Georgia Rowe in attack and the momentum swung in Stars’ favour. The team, cheered on by enthusiastic supporters who had made the journey, went on a 7-0 run at one point, finishing the third quarter 38-35 ahead.
Rowe was in formidable form throughout the game and combined well with England Futures star, Paige Reed, to convert 92 per cent of their shots. The fourth quarter was a tight, tense goal for goal affair.
With just two minutes to go, and the scores tied at 49 all, the unflappable Rowe uncharacteristically overshot and Pulse showed no mercy, scoring off the turnover and again from their own centre pass to take a 51-49 victory in the dying seconds of the game.
Bird said: “We had a slow start, but I am encouraged by the improvement throughout the game. We cannot afford the losses of concentration which meant we didn’t capitalise on all the ball we won.
“We are disappointed by the result obviously, but had patches of excellent play, which we need to focus on, carry forward into the next game and be more consistent in producing.”
Stars’ captain Iona Darroch, said: “Obviously losing by two goals is always a hard one to take and it is a bit gutting and frustrating, but I think we also have to take the positives from the performance.
“There were times where we stuck to what we’ve worked on in training, stuck to the structure and the ball went through really easily.
“We just weren’t consistent enough. Going into the next game away to Loughborough Lightning, it is going to be tough, but we know we have more than we showed today, so we have to get out there and prove it.”
Stars tackle the Lightning on Saturday (January 12) before hosting their first home game at the University of Gloucestershire Arena on Friday, January 25 against Celtic Dragons.
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