Surrey Storm began their road to the 2015 Netball Superleague season with a defeat after losing their first pre-season friendly 40-51 to a defiant Wales at Surrey Sports Park
Coach Tasmin Greenway used this pre-season opportunity to try the majority of her long-squad players in competitive action, with Storm debuts for Becky Gentle, Laurelle Borke, Issy Kemp and Kat Hayes alongside a host of returning players from last season and a return for Lorraine Kowalewska (nee Betsy).
An unfamiliar Storm team started well winning the first quarter and maintaining a two goal lead through to half time. However Welsh experience took its toll on the home side leaving them defeated in the final two quarters.
Both teams went into the game having something to prove with Wales looking to improve after their disappointing 8th place at this year’s Commonwealth Games and Storm looking to redeem themselves after a disappointing one goal loss in the final of the NSL earlier this year.
Quarter one saw a slow start to the game with both teams struggling to retain possession and get into the match. Patience in attack saw Storm finally take the lead with Tamsin Greenway opening the scoring. Mistakes in the mid-court for Storm gave Wales turnover ball and the visitors converted twice to bring the scores back level. Wales continued to capitalise on Storm mistakes, taking the lead for the first time after five minutes. However persistent defence from the home side gave them turnover ball and Kat Haynes scored twice in quick succession to give Storm back the advantage. Some strong attacking work from Wales brought them within a goal of the home side and a Haynes goal on the whistle for Storm, saw Surrey retain a 13-11 lead heading into the second quarter.
Storm made a bright start to the second quarter, with mistakes in attack by Wales and an early interception from Issy Kemp allowing Haynes to extend Storm’s lead out to three goals. Some strong attacking work from Bethan Dyke and patience around the circle gave Lewis her first goal of the quarter for the visitors after two and a half minutes. There was lots of physically strong play on show from both sides, with Lorraine Kowalewska and Amy Flanagan pressing hard on the Welsh attack. A lapse in Welsh concentration and an interception from Kowalewska saw four goals in a row for Storm, taking the home side’s lead to five for the first time in the match, allowing them to dominate the end of the quarter. Pressure shooting from Greenway saw her score on the whistle to make it 12 goals a piece in the quarter, and Storm retain their 2-goal lead at 25-23.
The half-time team talk from Welsh coaches Mel Tuckwell and Julia Longville clearly spurred on the visitors who came out fighting in the third quarter. Coach Greenway made full use of her long squad, putting out a fresh seven for the second half. However it was Wales who started brighter moving ahead by one early doors. With Storm missing chances to bring the scores back level, Wales capitalised with Cara Mosely converting to give the visitors a two goal lead for the first time in the match. Confident shooting from Amanda Davis and Katy Harris brought the score back level for the home side after 11 minutes, but silly errors from the home side proved costly as Wales took a four goal lead into the final fifteen, 33-37.
The final quarter saw Wales really come alive as they extended their lead out to six – the biggest of the match – with Lewis hitting the target. Wales rung the changes in attack and defence while Storm stuck with the same seven that finished the third. Wales kept their stranglehold on the game for much of the final period, with better attacking play coming from Storm towards the final minutes of the quarter. However the damage had already been done and the home side were unable to overcome the deficit, with Wales reaching a half century before the final whistle, winning the quarter 7-14. Team consistency and experience ultimately proved crucial come the final whistle as Wales beat Storm 40-51, in what was a hugely exciting match for the sell-out Surrey Sports Park crowd.
Kat Ainsworth picked up the Player of the Match award after a resilient defensive display.
Surrey Storm Player Coach, Tamsin Greenway, said: “It was great to get back out on court after a long summer. We’ve been hard at work in pre-season and tonight was the perfect opportunity to take a look at the new players we’ve brought in to the long squad before we decide the final fifteen for next season.
“Despite the result there were a lot of positives and learnings to take, and the crowd really got behind us as they always do.”
Surrey Storm will next be in action at the sold out inaugural ReEnergise Tri-Tournament against Hertfordshire Mavericks and Team Bath Netball on Saturday 29th November at Surrey Sports Park.
Tickets for the 2015 Netball Superleague season, including the return of Netball London Live at the Copper Box Arena on Saturday 7 March, are available to buy online now.
Surrey Storm Starting 7
Wales Starting 7
GD: N Jones
WD: K Jones