Storm comeback dumps out champions Bath
31 May 2011
Surrey Storm's 2011 FIAT Netball Superleague journey continues after an inspirational last quarter comeback saw them knock out defending champions Team Bath 57-53 in Bath.
With 6 of England's Worlds Championship Squad in action across the 2 teams and an early end to the season on the cards for the losing side, there was everything to play for. Storm, with a coach full of travelling supporters who had made the journey to the University of Bath's Sports Training Village, looked to take their second victory over Team Bath in as many weeks to progress onto Playoff number 2 against Northern Thunder and a step closer to the Grand Final.
The first quarter saw very little to seperate the two teams. The home side came out strong and piled on the pressure in defence, forcing Storm's attacking unit of Dunn, Greenway, Cosentino and Trippick to work hard for every goal. With England defender Beckford Chambers all over Dunn in the circle and Serena Guthrie looking dangerous at WD, Storm struggled to get into any rhythm in attack in the early stages. However, with the dynamic duo of Reid and Holland stepping up to produce another outstanding defensive performance, Bath were having to work equally hard to register goals on the board. Despite both teams taking a slim lead at times, at the first break it was all level at 13-13.
The second quarter saw no changes to either team and for the first half of the period both teams slotted consistently. With Storm's shooting machine and player of the match Dunn netting her 700th goal of the season and Greenway's pace and vision in attach, Storm continued to stick with the home side for much of the period. However, with less that 7 minutes on the clock, Guthrie produced 2 outstanding turnovers allowing Bath to extend their lead to 5 as they started to gain some momentum. The gap widened to as many as 7 at one stage with the clock ticking down on the first half. However, Storm, arguable the underdogs of the contest didn't panic and stuck to task coming up with a number of key turnovers in the closing minutes, pulling the half time score back to 27-25 to Bath.
The start of the second half was all Bath. With a number of errors creeping into Storm's attacking passages of play, Bath capitalised with 3 quick goals without reply to extend their lead to 5. Bath's speed through the court was more frequently finding Cookey and Alison under the post, and sharp shooting from both stretched the lead to 8 with 9 minutes on the clock. An injury timeout from Greenway for a knock to the thumb saw Beardwood make the single positional change of the game, switching Greenway to WA and Cosentino into the circle to join Dunn. This tried and tested impact change paid immediate dividend with Storm again clawing their way back into the game. A Reid intercept outside the circle and some sqift through court play between Seaton, Trippick and Greenway found Dunn in space who calmly converted. Another Storm turnover pulled the away team back within 4 before Bath slotted the final goal of the period to go into the final 15 minutes 5 goals to the good at 42-37.
With everything to do in the last quarter Storm hit the court with nothing to lose and a tough ask on their hands. The first 5 minutes was all Storm as they incredible drew back to level and looked to be gaining momentum. With the scores tied at 44-44. a Bath injury timeout through Beckford Chambers with 9 minutes on the clock threatended to break up Storm's run. However the Guildford based unit had other ideas, and with the finish line creeping into sight, a goal for goal battle commenced. The pressure was on both sides to convert their centre passes, as both teams looked for the break to take the lead. A perfectly constucted and timely intercept from Seaton saw Storm go 2 clear with less than 4 minutes to play. However, with Guthrie producing yet another impressive turnover off a Storm centre pass, the scores levelled up again. With the crowd sensing the importance of every pass, Storm's travelling support were incredible and surged the away side on. A missed shot from Bath and another Storm turnover saw them get some breathing space as they took the lead 55-52 with just over a minute to play. A smart passage of play, instigated by captain Greenway saw Storm play down the clock and keep possession of the ball in the centre third as a frustrated team Bath fought for the much needed intercept. With less than 30 seconds to play, Greenway found Dunn with another pin-point pass and a long bomb from the shooting machine saw Storm take the win 57-53.
An ecstatic Mary Beardwood after the game said; "The girls were amazing today. We knew we would be up against it today with Bath after last week and they came out and made things really difficult for us. However we stuck with them and when it really mattered they did the job. We have been working hard on our defence all season and they have excelled themselves again today. It was a great team performance and we are now looking forward to next weekend's second playoff. I'm really proud of them all today."
Friday's match can be seen on Sky Sports on Wednesday 1 June at 6pm.
Play-off 2 vs Thunder
Storm now face Northern Thunder in play-off 2 on Friday 3 June at 7.30 in Bury. Tickets are on sale now at http://www.thundernetball.com/page13.html Storm are currently working on possible away travel plans but as yet nothing is confirmed. More details to follow.
The winner of play-off 2 will face Hertfordshire Mavericks in the Grand Final at the Hertfordshire Sports Village on Thursday 9 June at 8pm. Should Storm make it to the Grand Final, tickets will be available from Monday 6 June at 9am via http://www.netballsuperleague.com/.