Hertfordshire Mavericks carve out winning Netball Superleague start from tight Team Northumbria tussle

PUBLISHED: 23:08 17 February 2017 | UPDATED: 10:33 21 February 2017

Sophie Hankin receives a pass under pressure.

Sophie Hankin receives a pass under pressure.

Danny Loo Photography 2016

A new-look Hertfordshire Mavericks side kicked off their 2017 Vitality Superleague campaign with a battling 53-48 victory over Team Northumbria at Herts Sports Village tonight (Friday).

With only two of the hosts’ starters in the team that lost to eventual champions Surrey Storm in the play-off semi-finals last season, and under new management with former New Zealand coach Robyn Broughton taking sole charge for the first time, Mavericks stuttered in the first period but were never behind at any of the quarter’s ends.

From level at 13-13 at the end of the first quarter, the visitors continued to push the Hatfield outfit all the way, no more than three points behind at any stage of the second part of the half before Mavericks entered the dressing room 25-24 ahead,

Broughton’s team talk seemed to do the trick as the home side scored 10 of the opening 14 goals in the third quarter. However, Northumbria stormed back and going into the final period the contest was still neatly poised at 40-35.

The match ended as it began with a 13-13 scoreline after a tense 15 minutes but crucially Mavericks were victorious at the final buzzer.

With the reformed Superleague now home to 10 teams and many comings and goings in the off-season no game will be a formality this time around and Northumbria, who finished sixth of eight last campaign, displayed that, flying out of the blocks to lead by three points early on.

The hosts battled back though, spraying the ball around quickly with new goal shooter Vicklyn Joseph and goal attack Sophie Hankin showing off their range of finishing around the circle.

Two moments, first a long shot from Hankin and then a vital interception from new co-captain Lindsay Keable at the other end, rallied the home crowd and had Mavericks building momentum.

Into the second quarter, England’s Summer Artman entered the fray for Keable at goal keeper and immediately displayed her array of defensive qualities, twice intercepting well with Te Aroha Keenan’s Northumbria on the charge.

Player of the match Raz Quashie was also a tower of strength at the back as Broughton’s ladies held off the away side for the remainder of the second quarter to lead by a single point at the break.

Northumbria’s best moment of the second 15 saw centre Jaydene Robinson find Tamsin Moala with a giant pass with the latter netting with ease.

The 10-minute interval revitalised Mavericks, with Michelle Drayne moving to wing attack, and they stormed ahead at 35-28.

Nevertheless, the north-east outfit weren’t done quite yet and they dug deep to set up a tantalising final quarter.

Joseph and Hankin continued to find the target when afforded space in the last 15 minutes to keep Mavericks’ noses just in front and despite the dogged visiting contingent remaining resolute, the home victory was assured.

Next up for Mavericks, Team Bath a week tomorrow (February 25) on Super Ten day when all 10 sides are in action at Birmingham’s Genting Arena.

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