SEVEN STARS’ approach to their inaugural Vitality Netball Superleague campaign has won praise from England head coach Tracey Neville.
The respected coach spoke out after the Stars’ first home game after becoming one of three new franchises to join the Vitality Superleague this season following a successful joint bid from the University of Worcester and the University of Gloucestershire.
“The way Severn Stars are trying to develop and bring on home-grown talent, with that sprinkle of Worcester players, is always really encouraging from a national perspective,” said Neville.
“They’re really looking at the holistic approach, by how they can create the franchise as a business and as a sport to progress women’s sport.”
Stars suffered a third-quarter collapse as they lost 48-39 to Team Bath at the University of Worcester Arena on Saturday.
Despite holding a 23-21 half-time lead, the hosts lost captain Laura Malcolm with an ankle injury, paving the way for Team Bath to build a 13-point third-quarter advantage, from which Stars couldn’t recover.
The visitors raced 3-0 ahead in the opening two minutes, before goal shooter Afeisha Noel and goal attack Eleanor Cardwell scored for the hosts to stem the flow.
Stars then started to grow into the game as clever attacking play culminated in Noel finishing to level the scores, before Iona Darroch teed up Cardwell to net to open a 12-9 first-quarter advantage.
The Worcester outfit carried the momentum into the second quarter, as Malcolm’s crucial interception allowed the unmarked Cardwell to score and stretch Stars’ lead to five points.
But they couldn’t shake off a stubborn Team Bath side, who continued to chip away at the deficit bringing the score back to 19-18.
Neat interplay between Darroch and Cardwell resulted in the latter netting, to send Stars into the interval with a two-point cushion.
But captain Malcolm was then withdrawn after failing to recover from an ankle injury she picked up in the second quarter. It meant wing defence Sophie Carter being moved to centre and Lauren Brooks replacing her at wing defence.
The loss of Malcolm halted Stars’ momentum, as Team Bath took advantage of the reshuffle to mount a comeback and seize a 13-point lead entering the final quarter.
But Stars battled bravely to win the fourth period 12-8, courtesy of attacking play orchestrated by player of the match Darroch, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the club from falling to a third defeat of the season.
Director of Netball Pamela Cookey said: “We played some amazing stuff and we were in it right until the third quarter, so we’re annoyed with the result.
“We obviously had an injury at half-time and had to make changes, but that’s no excuse. We needed to come out firing after the break, but we’re really pleased with how we started and how we ended.
“Winning those quarters just shows how much we’re progressing. The girls are building each week and continue to show passion and determination.”
Stars host Wasps Netball at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday (tip off 7.30pm).