23rd May, 2019

Stars need to ‘start smart’

Correspondent 22nd Feb, 2019

SEVERN Stars head coach Sam Bird insisted her team need to start better in order to triumph at home after they fell to a 46-55 defeat to the Surrey Storm at the University of Gloucestershire Sports Arena, writes Spencer Marshall.

Stars opened the scoring through captain Maryka Holtzhausen who cleared the a path to the net for the home side more than once early on. However shortly after Surrey strung a number of scores together to take the lead and their momentum was marked by a spectacular looping shot by goal attack Rhea Dixon.

The Stars kept in touch by working space for goal shooter Georgia Rowe, who went on to register 28 points for the afternoon, and the team trailed by only four at the first interval.

Goal defence Jodi-Ann Ward proved difficult to pass and the Stars kept the pressure on in the second quarter as the Jamaican alongside goal keeper Sam Cook ensured the Storm had to work hard to find the net. The Stars missed multiple opportunities to reduce the deficit before half-time, choosing to introduce Paige Reed late in the second quarter to take the chances they were creating, which proved successful.

With Stars’ goal defence Ward side-lined through injury, the game opened up in the third quarter as the Storm extended their lead to six. Despite the growing distance on the scoreboard the Stars always looked threatening, Paige Reed making the most of Georgia Rowe’s fantastic movement to find her with a sublime pass into the in-goal area.

But with the efforts of Surrey duo Lorraine Kowalewska and Shadine Van Der Merwe, the Stars struggled to score consistently enough to edge back into contention.

Surrey continued to counter attack well as they had throughout the game and goal shooter Sigrid Burger struck to extend the Storms’ lead to nine. The presence of Paige Reed continued to prove creative for the Stars but ultimately they went down 46-55 to now fifth placed Surrey, who sit three places above the Stars in eighth.

There wasn’t much between the two teams in throughout the encounter, however Bird felt the visitors looked too comfortable early on.

“I’m a little bit disappointed, we didn’t start well, and we had a nervy first half. We had a very nervy first five minutes and allowed the Storm to feel at home, and you don’t want the away team feeling comfortable. I felt like we were battling from the start really,” Bird said

The Severn Stars will face ninth-placed Strathclyde Sirens on Friday (February 22) at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.

Bird added: “Similarly to the Storm the Sirens are another team that we beat in pre-season, so I think it’s in our

hands to play a little bit smarter, and when we win ball score off it and reward our defenders by being a bit more clinical in attack.

“It’s early days at the minute and we’ve got players who are injured to come back into the side. The players are working hard, and even though it’s cliché we look to perform well in the next game and all we can do is go from

there.”

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