Storm calmed but benecosMavericks leave capacity crowd in Hertfordshire breathless
PUBLISHED: 12:35 20 February 2018 | UPDATED: 13:35 20 February 2018
benecosMavericks may have a problem after their stunning 64-62 extra-time win over perenniel rivals Surrey Storm – the capacity crowd inside the Hertfordshire Sports Village may now expect entertainment like that every week.
It was the Hertfordshire’s sides first outing at home in the Vitality Netball Superleague this season and came on the back of last week’s opening round success against Celtic Dragons.
And while the Mavs and the Storm have served up many a thriller in the past, nobody expected this.
The hosts had raced into a six-point half-time lead but slowly and surely the Storm began to close the gap.
By the end of the third quarter the lead was down to four and midway through the final period, the Surrey outfit fought back to level things in.
There were still chances to win it for the hosts and they took a two-point lead into the final minute but the equalising shot came with just 14 seconds on the clock.
Extra time is a rare commodity in netball and the extra 14 minutes, seven each way, were just as breathless and nervous as what had gone before, and perhaps even more so.
But with vice-captain and goal defence Lindsay Keable at one point leading the home support in a ‘Let’s go Mavericks’ chant, the crowd came into play.
The needed them too as Surrey pushed ahead by two points but with players like Michelle Drayne and Sasha Corbin producing work rate of the highest quality and winning plenty of turnovers, the Mavericks reined in their opponents.
And fortunately for the home side, the calmest people in the building seemed to be shooters Karyn Bailey and Kalifa McCollin who sunk some distance shots with ease, enabling the Mavericks to take the momentum at the crucial moment and lead their team to victory.
Kat Ratnapala, the head coach and director of netball for the benecosMavericks, was naturally delighted at the end.
She said: “We are really pleased to take the points from today’s match.
“It was a tough battle out there and I’m pleased that the players found it in them to dig deep and come away with the win.
“The crowd were fantastic tonight and it gave us the added push to take us over the line.
“This is our second game of the season and our second win and it was done with new combinations.
“We have taken a while to settle to but this is an exciting group and I’m excited where we’re going as a squad.”
The Mavericks now head into a double-header weekend with Severn Stars the visitors on Saturday and last year’s champions Wasps on Monday.
However, these two home games will be at the University of Essex in Colchester.
And if they are half as good as this one, the club will have recruited even more new fans.