Mavericks steal Copper Box Crown

Surrey Storm fell to their first ever Copper Box Arena defeat on Saturday evening as Hertfordshire Mavericks took a 55-50 win at Netball London Live 2016.

A 6332-strong crowd packed into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park venue to witness a gritty, physical Vitality Netball Superleague clash, and Maverick’s first win in the annual meeting between the two sides.

Feeling confidence after a big win at Manchester Thunder in round 6, Storm Head Coach Kathryn Ratnapala named an unchanged side to face Mavericks in the 3rd edition of Netball London Live. And it was clear from the opening exchanges that Storm were in for another close encounter. Mavericks pilled on the defensive pressure but with Rachel Dunn and Pamela Cookey adjusting to it late on, the score line was finely poised at 10-all at the first break.

Hertfordshire came out of the blocks quickest in Q2, with a 3-9 run that saw them 13-19 up midway into the quarter, before taking a 20-27 lead into the dressing rooms at half time thanks to a superb shooting performance from Sophie Hankin.

With quick action needed to turn the game around and stop the ball from reaching the flawless Mavericks attack, Coach Ratnapala made several changes for Q3. Josie Huckle came on at GK, allowing Hannah Reid to push forward to GD, while Amy Flanagan came on at C to move Sophia Candappa into WD.

The changes showed promise early on in the quarter, with Reid’s aggression allowing Storm to pick out an interception on the edge of the circle to feed through to Cookey and Dunn who were still shooting with accuracy. Despite this Storm were only able to reduce the deficit by a single goal in the quarter, Mavericks holding a 34-40 heading into the final period.

Goals needed to come thick and fast if Surrey were to take anything from the game and protect their Copper Box crown, so the pace was upped to increase the chances on goal. Candappa found Dunn with a huge whole third pass late on before Cookey converted a late turnover, but it was too little too late for the side in duck egg blue as Mavericks closed out a big performance to take a 50-55 win. Perfect revenge for the Hertfordshire side, and painful realisation for Storm that their unbeaten run in the capital had come to an end.

The result sees Mavericks sit second in the Vitality Netball Superleague table on goal average, while Storm miss an opportunity to leap frog their rivals and stay 4th.

Early in the day Maiden Erlegh School were crowned COCO5 Road to Copper Box Arena champions with a 25-15 win over St. Christopher’s School and Storm NPL stayed unbeaten with a 56-31 victory against Mavericks NPL.

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