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Northumbria Silence Sirens

Posted by Simon Rushworth

Northumbria Silence Sirens

Team Northumbria’s loyal fans could have been forgiven for thinking it might never happen.

But four months into the Superleague season and the club’s patient supporters were finally treated to a first homecourt win of 2018 as Sirens were defeated 47-42 on Tyneside.

It might have been a long time coming but in the end this was a victory that reflected a team beginning to gel and starting to believe.

And a second victory in three games – following a winless start to the campaign – suggested TeAroha Keenan is right to believe her fast-improving roster can finish inside the top eight.

Sirens’ only win of the season came against TN earlier this year and the top flight’s bottom two knew defeat for either would almost certainly secure the dreaded wooden spoon.

But from the outset the home side sought to set the tone with a game built on stifling defence.

And TN successfully silenced the Sirens with a performance that screamed potential, passion and determination.

Coach Keenan sprang a surprise with her starting seven – opting to pair Lisa Bowman with fit-again Sophie Hankin in attack and leaving veteran defender Hayley Mulheron on the bench.

But with a fully fit squad to choose from for only the second time this season the Kiwi playcaller finally had the opportunity to tailor her selection to the opposition.

And a blistering start from the hosts suggested Keenan’s pre-match homework had paid off with Bowman and Hankin underpinning an impressive 3-0 opening burst.

Sirens looked all at sea during the early exchanges but the Glasgow franchise quickly found its feet and a 5-0 tear saw the visitors take a two-goal lead.

In a first period of significant scoring runs TN bagged the next four goals to lead 7-5 and a side well beaten by Loughborough Lightning two days earlier appeared full of confidence.

Former Mavericks favourite Hankin sank back-to-back shots to fire the home side 13-8 ahead.

And TN continued to dominate Superleague’s basement battle, opening up a 10-goal lead six minutes into the second quarter.

But Sirens went into a must-win clash desperate to do the double against Keenan’s side and the feisty Scots halved the deficit seconds before the half-time buzzer.

TN freshened up their attack after the break by introducing the in-form Tamsin Moala for Hankin.

And the move breathed new life into the energetic hosts as they restored their double-digit advantage minutes after the restart.

TN took a 38-31 lead into the final 15 minutes and Ash Neal joined the impressive Bowman in attack with local favourite Francine Hall tasting her first minutes of the night at wing attack.

Sirens had struggled to get a grip on centre court from start to finish with the busy Emily Hollingworth and Paige Kindred both in fine form for the hosts.

And there was no way back for the Scots as TN controlled the fourth period. Leading 47-37 with four minutes on the clock, Keenan’s side closed out a second win of the season in fine style ahead of Saturday’s Sport Central clash against Manchester Thunder.

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