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Battling Bath Best Northumbria

Posted by Simon Rushworth

Battling Bath Best Northumbria

Beaten but unbowed Team Northumbria travel to Benecos Mavericks on Saturday buoyed by spells of pure brilliance against perennial Superleague winners Team Bath.

But coach TeAroha Keenan will be baffled by another Jekyll and Hyde performance from her wildly inconsistent team after the visitors slipped to a frustrating 54-42 defeat.

TN looked unstoppable during a sensational second quarter as they bounced back from a dreadful start to put serious pressure on the wobbling hosts.

But the visitors threw away any hopes of springing a round 13 surprise as a series of basic errors allowed Bath the chance to regain control.

And Keenan must go back to the drawing board in a bid to add consistency to her side’s growing confidence.

Sophie Hankin and Tamsin Moala started strongly in attack and the hosts had to fight hard to establish an early 8-6 lead.

But TN’s bright opening faded fast as Bath went on a relentless 11-0 tear to take total control in the first period.

With Hankin and Moala isolated up top and Toni Anderson exposed in defence it was clear Keenan needed to change things fast.

And two key substitutions turned the game on its head as Kiwi shooter Chiara Semple and Scotland defender Hayley Mulheron came off the bench.

Both players made an immediate impact as TN delivered one of their best quarters of the Superleague season – outscoring the stunned hosts 14-6 to reduce the deficit to five.

The highlight of a superb spell of direct netball was Mulheron’s arcing pass into Hankin with the former Mavericks star converting coolly under pressure.

And Bath were clearly rattled heading into the half-time break.

Both teams came out all guns blazing at the start of the second half but the visitors’ desire to get fast ball into the shooting circle resulted in a series of unforced errors.

Lisa Bowman and Semple were both guilty of surrendering possession in inviting positions as TN failed to maintain their second quarter momentum.

And Bath needed no encouragement to tighten their grip on a game that continued to ebb and flow in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

TN trailed 40-29 heading into the fourth period but with one eye on Saturday’s trip to Mavericks there was a collective desire to claw back the deficit and restore some pride.

An all-Kiwi attack of Semple and Moala kept the pressure on the home side at the defensive end.

But Bath continued to move the ball well through centre court and the five-times Superleague winners saw off a late TN rally to seal three valuable top flight points.

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