Six years in the making and four finals later, Surrey Storm have finally been crowned Netball Superleague Champions after a convincing 56-39 Grand Final win over Hertfordshire Mavericks.
Storm have been in the final four times in five years, but the girls finally lifted the trophy with a dominating performance from start to finish at London's Copperbox Arena.
After a tense and fantastic 60 minutes of netball, Tamsin Greenway's side proved how hard-work and dedication over the season can pay off. The blood, sweat, tears, laughter, team spirit, and years of outstanding dedication by the coaching staff and players finally saw Storm raise the trophy.
With an unchanged starting 7 from last week’s semi-finals, Greenway’s squad looked strong and prepared, knowing the stakes of the game ahead. Perhaps due to the pressure of the day, the first quarter started with some silly errors from both teams, seeing Storm and Mavericks playing end-to-end netball and capitalising on each other’s mistakes.
After a fantastic turnover from Storm’s South African import Bongiwe Msomi, Storm finally begun to settle into the game, and an early Rachel Dunn conversion saw Storm edge ahead slightly 5-2. With Mavericks' defence putting tough pressure on the Storm attack, the girls in duck egg worked tirelessly to continuously move the ball around, but their patience paid off and Pamela Cookey was able to once again find the net.
Quickly, Hertfordshire responded with a goal, however with strength from captain Hannah Reid, Storm were once again able to turn over the ball. Reid then sprung into action again and rebounded a missed shot, however Storm were unable to keep possession resulting in a Mavericks conversion, making the score 11-6 to Storm. Some quick attacking work from our local rivals capitalised a missed goal from Storm and they managed to close the gap to just 3 goals. As time ticked on the clock, a huge pass from Greenway to Dunn was unfortunately not within the 15 minutes, but Storm lead 13-10 going into the first break.
Quarter 2 kicked off with some swift attacking work from Greenway, however a missed shot from Dunn allowed an early Mavericks goal, with another quickly following, and therefore drawing the score to within 1 goal. With the mid-court working well as a unit, Katt Ainsworth was able to secure the ball and once again Storm gained some momentum.
After a couple of contact calls within the shooting circle, Dunn moved the lead out to 4 goals once again. With the scoreline being tight, the feistiness started to show in both teams, with Mavericks having numerous contact calls. Storm were able to keep their calm and some smart work between Msomi, Greenway and their shooters by swinging the ball allowed further scoring opportunities, making the score 18-14.
Despite a suspect call for footwork against Cookey, Storm continued their descent down the court. A mis-placed pass saw a purple interception at 20-17, but with good pressure and back-up from Katy Holland and Ainsworth, Storm pushed ahead and created their biggest lead of the game, 23-17, after Cookey bouncing up after being floored and netting the goal.
Towards the end of the quarter, the game stepped up physically even more, with both teams displaying some feistiness alongside some fantastic netball. Good pressure from Storm and an advanced penalty against Kadeen Corbin allowed a long Greenway ball into Cookey to extend the lead to 6. The physical second quarter concluded with Storm continuing to edge ahead 26-20 with all to play for in the second half.
A Storm centre and quick drive by Cookey along the baseline and goal gave Storm an early gain of momentum to start the third quarter. Eager not to be left behind, Mavericks scored but with fluid work between Storm’s attack, Msomi was finally able to Cookey in the circle once again, with Dunn making space and proving her dynamism out of the shooting D.
Despite Mavericks’ speed in their attack, Reid’s pressure in the circle placed Storm back in the driving seat due to a rebound. After a few messy errors and despite a rescued ball from Msomi, a purple interception put the ball back into their possession. However, Holland proved how much Storm wanted the ball back and with great strength recovered the ball. A Greenway feed after yet another Mavericks obstruction, gave Dunn the chance to score and put the score at 35-28. After an injury timeout, some great defensive pressure blocked Mavericks attempt to move down court and Storm were able to take advantage. A cheeky quick feed from Greenway into Dunn on the final whistle of the quarter meant a penalty shot and a secured goal, making the score 38-30 with fifteen to play.
With everything to play for and a chance at the Superleague title in the final quarter, Storm begun the final quarter with an initial error, allowing Mavericks to put a couple of goals in. A Cookey interception on the defensive third line revamped Storm and true to form put a goal in. Despite being a GA, she once again took an interception showing her England flair.
An incredible long pass from Msomi to Cookey who was driving into the circle meant another attacking point for Storm. With this momentum well and truly in gear, Holland took an interception and the ball sped down court. With end-to-end netball happening, Holland once again prevented a Mavericks goal, much to the crowd’s delight. With Amy Flanagan on for Ainsworth, her pressure in the defensive end forced further Mavericks errors, and her work with Holland and Msomi meant the fluidity of Storm’s play proved their champion abilities.
With five minutes to go and the score standing at 52-35, Player Coach Tamsin Greenway’s cheeky grin became very evident as the end was in sight. With a genuine display of the love of their netball, all the Storm players took to the court for the last 3 minutes with flash and calm netball. A last minute turnover from Flanagan saw a final injection of energy and the whole team suddenly rose like the champions they are.
As the match ticked towards the end, the heads started to drop from the ladies in purple and black. Despite a last ditch score from Watson, Mavericks were beaten, 56-39.
This time, conceding a last second goal meant little to Storm and the emotion of exorcising the demons from 2014 was clear for all to see as player-coach Greenway dropped to her knees in a mixture of exhaustion, delight and shock.
The mood in the Surrey camp was summed up by Player of the Match, Pamela Cookey. When asked her feelings on the winning the Grand Final, the England shooter simply exclaimed "We're Champions!". When asked on the secret ingredient for the team’s success, her simple answer summed up the whole season: "Heart, soul and Tamsin Greenway."
It had been a long time coming but finally Surrey Storm are Champions and will enjoy the season break before preparing to defend their title when the 2016 Netball Superleague swings into action.
On behalf of all at Surrey Storm, we would like to thank all the fans, partners and sponsors who turn out each and every week and support us throughout the season. We really could not have done it without you.
Stay tuned for details of our End-Of-Season event, and a chance to get you hands on the 2015 Netball Superleague trophy!
Surrey Storm Starting 7:
GS – Dunn
GA – Cookey
WA – Greenway
C – Msomi
WD – Ainsworth (Q4 Flanagan)
GD – Holland
GK – Reid
Hertfordshire Mavericks Starting 7:
GS – K.Corbin
GA – Watson
WA – S.Corbin
C – Buchanan
WD – May
GD – Guscoth
GK – Hutchinson
Umpires: Gary Burgess and Jackie Mizon with Lisa McPhail as reserve
Surrey Storm Shooting Stats:
Q1: Dunn – 78%, Cookey – 75%
Qr2: Dunn – 83%, Cookey – 85%
Qr3: Dunn – 88%, Cookey – 86%
Qr4: Dunn – 84%, Cookey – 86%
Q1 Storm 13 – 10 Mavericks
Q2 Storm 26 – 20 Mavericks
Q3: Storm 38 – 30 Mavericks
Q4: Storm 56 – 39 Mavericks