Netball Superleague: Saracens Mavericks end Team Bath's unbeaten run

By Jess AndersonBBC Sport
Sasha Corbin
Mavericks and Bath are two of the most decorated Superleague franchises

Team Bath's eight-match unbeaten run in Superleague came to an end with a dramatic 39-38 loss to fourth-place Saracens Mavericks.

Manchester Thunder ended Loughborough Lightning's seven-match winning streak with a high-intensity 59-50 win.

Lightning head coach Sara Bayman said her side "didn't deserve to win".

"That loss has been coming for a couple of weeks - we were poor, we had enough chances to win the game - but a loss is a good kick up the backside for us."

Lightning squandered several leads, most notably in the second quarter where they held a four-goal cushion at times only to finish that period five goals behind.

A fast start from Wasps was enough for them to see out a 49-37 victory over London Pulse while Severn Stars inflicted a ninth successive defeat on Celtic Dragons, beating them 47-35.

In Monday's fixtures, Pulse beat Stars 41-36 to secure their second win of the season and Thunder looked comfortable in a 59-37 win over a clearly tired Mavericks.

Leeds Rhinos, Surrey Storm and Strathclyde Sirens all sat this round out and will return to action in the next round.

Thunder end Lightning's streak, Wasps and Stars win

Thunder v Lightning
Thunder edged this fixture last time the two sides met with a 67-64 win over Lightning

After a strong start from both sides, the momentum swung between Thunder and Lightning, who squandered their lead on several occasions.

Thunder's mid-court and Caroline O'Hanlon in particular began to look more settled and were able to exploit Lightning's errors and quickly inflate their tally.

A sensational last-quarter effort from Thunder, where they scored 17 goals and held Lightning to just nine, ensured they became the second team this season to defeat Bayman's side.

Thunder head coach Karen Greig said: "We started to see grit last weekend against Rhinos and we've carried that through into training this week and pushed each other.

"We've previously come unstuck against Lightning - they're tough to play and tactically astute, but we stood up well and we're starting to find out what works for us."

Thunder recorded a second victory of the weekend as they cruised to victory over Mavericks - who looked fatigued after their triumph over Bath the day before - and leapfrogged them into second in the league, pushing Mavericks out of the top four.

Stars, despite losing wing-attack Beth Dyke in the opening quarter, powered through to a comfortable victory over Dragons to record their second win of the season, leaving the Welsh outfit still searching for their first success.

Wasps started their game against Pulse with determination and had built up a 13-goal lead going into half time.

However a draw in the third quarter and a one-goal loss in the fourth made for a lacklustre finish to the match as Pulse, who took confidence from their showing against Wasps into a win over Stars on Monday, continue to show signs of improvement.

Game of the week - Mavericks 39-38 Bath

Bath defeated other top-four opposition in the form of Lightning and Wasps earlier in the season and also overcame reigning champions Thunder - but Mavericks proved a tough test.

They started the game quickly and rushed to a 4-1 lead before England Roses goal keeper Razia Quashie limped off with an ankle injury, she also missed Monday's defeat to Thunder.

Head coach Kat Ratnapala was forced to shuffle the pack and introduce Georgia Lees at wing attack, moving Jodie Gibson - who signed for Mavericks in 2020 but was sidelined with injury - to goal defence and Jo Trip to goal keeper.

Mavericks put shooters Kim Borger and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis under significant pressure and took a two-goal advantage into the final quarter.

Going into the last five minutes, Mavericks held a five-goal lead but almost threw it away as they struggled to fend off a late surge from league-leaders Bath, who clawed back to draw level at 38-38.

But Borger's foot was just out of court as she received the ball into the circle on their last-gasp opportunity to go ahead, leaving Mavericks - who had only two unforced errors compared to Bath's 12 throughout the match - in possession and able to capitalise at the other end.

Mavericks head coach Ratnapala said she "didn't breathe for the last 12 minutes" and hopes her side have "backed up what we put out" after her side received criticism in previous rounds for a lack of consistency in performance across quarters.

In contrast, Bath head coach Anna Stembridge said her side were "hurt" not to get the win, which would have been their ninth on the spin, and that they had learnt "a hard lesson".

Results & fixtures

Round nine

Sunday, 4 April

Manchester Thunder 59-50 Loughborough Lightning

Severn Stars 47-35 Celtic Dragons

London Pulse 37-49 Wasps

Saracens Mavericks 39-38 Team Bath

Monday, 5 April

Severn Stars 36-41 London Pulse

Saracens Mavericks 57-39 Manchester Thunder

Vitality Netball Superleague table 2021
TeamPlayedWonLostDrawForAgainstGoal DifferencePoints
Team Bath981044831113724
Manchester Thunder972048436711721
Loughborough Lightning972047737110621
Saracens Mavericks96213953791619
Leeds Rhinos9540402405-315
Strathclyde Sirens9342335347-1211
London Pulse10280373430-576
Surrey Storm8260328386-586
Severn Stars10280343465-1226
Celtic Dragons9090307505-1980
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