Rhinos beat Team Bath for first time in Superleague

Tracey Robinson’s team bounced back from a loss to Celtic Dragons on Saturday; Robinson: “I knew they could always do it, that’s the way I knew that team could play”; the Spring Showdown continues with four further matches live on Sky Sports and streamed on the Sky Sports YouTube channel

Last Updated: 17/04/22 1:55pm

    Jade Clarke led the Rhinos from the middle of the court against Bath (Image credit: Ben Lumley)

    Jade Clarke led the Rhinos from the middle of the court against Bath (Image credit: Ben Lumley)

    Leeds Rhinos Netball beat Team Bath Netball for the first time in the Vitality Netball Superleague with a 64-54 victory on the second day of the Spring Showdown in Birmingham.

    Rhinos Netball went into the match against last year’s runners-up having lost to Celtic Dragons on Saturday and not won since March 11.

    Team Bath, who announced this week that head coach Anna Stembridge will leave at the end of the season, did not feature on day one but had won their last three matches in the competition.

    From the outset, Rhinos Netball showed considerable belief and a desire to prove themselves on the big stage. After their victory, player-of-the-match Rebekah Airey simply said they were “chuffed”, while head coach Tracey Robinson said it showed exactly what they were capable of.

    The contest at the Resorts World Arena in Birmingham marked the first of five games on Sunday, all live on Sky Sports and streamed on the Sky Sports YouTube channel.

    Vitality Netball Superleague – Spring Showdown

    Lightning 57-54 Storm12pmBath 54-64 Rhinos
    Rhinos 51-55 Dragons1.45pmDragons vs LightningSky Sports Action and Mix
    Thunder 73-51 Sirens3.30pmStorm vs ThunderSky Sports Action and Mix
    Wasps 38-44 Pulse5.15pmPulse vs MavericksSky Sports Action and Mix
    Mavs 58-44 Stars7pmStars vs WaspsSky Sports Action and Mix

    Rhinos Netball set out their stall in the opening minutes of the match, clearly extremely disappointed by their showing against Dragons the day before. They immediately produced a clear game plan – keeping the ball direct and flat in order to negate Bath’s ability in the air – and stuck to it.

    In defence, Airey and Vicki Oyesola lifted the energy with every tip and interception. The duo complemented each other, made Team Bath’s work disjointed and had their turnovers converted by an accurate Sigi Burger under the post.

    Rhinos Netball led 17-13 at the first pause and forced Team Bath’s head coach into making changes; Jessica Shaw arrived at centre, with Imogen Allison slipping back to wing defence.

    Bath drew the second quarter but made further changes at half-time. Betsy Creak was introduced at goal shooter in place of Kim Borger, while Rhinos welcomed Oyesola back after she had taken a knock in the latter stages of the first half.

    Team Bath Netball vs Leeds Rhinos Netball – Quarter-by-quarter scores

    Team Bath Netball131891454
    Leeds Rhinos Netball1718131664

    Rhinos stretched their lead out to 10 goals as the third quarter played out. Robinson’s unchanged side continued to perform at an intensity they had not found against Dragons on Saturday.

    Jade Clarke was outstanding coming through court and, together with the superb Amelia Hall, she found Brie Grierson and Burger easily.

    With a couple of minutes before three-quarter time, Bath restored their shooting line-up of Sophie Drakeford-Lewis and Borger and introduced Tash Pavelin as Layla Guscoth’s defensive partner. Bath gained some momentum as the third quarter closed, but remained eight goals down.

    Throughout the final 15 minutes, Rhinos kept their composure and even took an unscheduled pause to dry the court with 10 minutes to go, in their stride.

    Bath’s international defender Guscoth did her utmost to pull her side back into the contest, something England head coach Jess Thirlby will have been pleased to see, but Rhinos held firm for a history-making win.

    The Vitality Netball Superleague Spring Showdown continues with four further matches on Sunday. Every game is live on Sky Sports and streamed on the Sky Sports YouTube channel.