MATCH REPORT | Saracens Mavericks 62-57 Leeds Rhinos
Saracens Mavericks charged down Leeds Rhinos to secure first win of the season in front of a jubilant home crowd!
Mavericks’ starting 7 worked hard for the full 60 minutes to break down the visitors from Yorkshire and reward the wonderfully noisy home crowd with a victory.
From the whistle it was apparent that Leeds Rhinos were as hungry for a win as the Hertfordshire side after they, too, suffered defeat on opening day of the Netball Superleague in Nottingham last weekend.
With internationally decorated players in every third, and with Vicki Oyesola and Nia Jones returning from injury and illness, the Yorkshire side were not going to give Mavericks three points without a fight.
Mavericks Head Coach, Camilla Buchanan, was pleased to see her team putting into practice what they’d been working on since a disappointing result last weekend:
“When we stuck to our structures, and looked to break down the defensive line, it worked. For the most part they showed some real grit to get through some messy moments.”
Quarter 1 introduced the home crowd to a game that promised to be fast and physical, with McDonald, Reed and O’Hanlon matching Mather, Zaranyika and Corbin for pace and passion in the mid-court. Mavericks clawed back to overturn Rhinos’ 3-point lead and finish the opening quarter with a narrow advantage.
There was nothing to separate the sides in the second quarter as forced and unforced errors crept into both teams. With glimpses of Mavericks gaining the upper hand, Liana Leota made a couple of substitutions just before half time but to no immediate avail. Rhinos won the quarter on points but it was Mavericks who went into the break with the lead, albeit a narrow one.
Mavericks came out firing in the third quarter, claiming the first 3 goals before extending the lead to 6 points.
Leeds Rhinos got too close for comfort in the final quarter but a vocal home crowd, energised by music from DJ Mystikle Blue, roared their team over the finish line in style.
Sasha Corbin, in her tenth year as captain of the team she calls ‘home’, reflected on her team’s performance:
“We had a really good week of training this week, knowing what we were going to come up against. Our structures were sound this time, we really stuck to what we wanted to do.
We’re really connecting as a group and I’m loving how we’re building each week. So, we’re happy with the win but we know we’ve got so much more to give but we’re really pleased that we managed to get over the line today.”
The charismatic talisman also spoke about the difference the crowd made and how the team love performing for them.
Saracens Mavericks will need to train hard and rest hard this week in preparation for a double-header next weekend against Loughborough Lightning and Surrey Storm, two teams who are emphatically undefeated so far this season.
Camilla Buchanan looks ahead to next weekend with determination and belief:
“It’s a great opportunity for us to look at how we fare in a back-to-back. We’ve obviously got some tactical stuff to look at this week in preparation but I back my team to really challenge.”
Congratulations to Lisa Mather on being awarded Player of the Match and to the whole squad in black and red.
Report by Erica Rosa Tapp