Coach's Corner: Race for fourth is going to go down to the wire

Anita Navin analyses Hertfordshire Mavericks win over Celtic Dragons and highlights some strong defensive work...

Last Updated: 24/03/14 9:32am

Can the Mavericks join Surrey in the play-offs?

Coach, player, author, commentator, analyst... Anita Navin's list of netballing expertise is long.

So here at Sky Sports we've asked her to take up the post in our Coach's Corner to analyse all the big talking points from the ZEO Netball Superleague...

Four for four

ANITA'S VIEW: Another win for Celtic Dragons against Loughborough Lightning on Thursday night means there are four teams challenging for the fourth play off position. It's a given that Manchester Thunder and Surrey Storm will ease into the play off stages with Team Bath likely to take the third position. So who will take the fourth play off spot from Herts Mavericks, Yorkshire Jets, Team Northumbria and Celtic Dragons?

"At this stage I predict Mavericks to take fourth spot by a narrow margin - possibly only two points - over Celtic Dragons should form remain consistent."

Anita Navin

Celtic Dragons have battled through recent games with Coach Melissa Hyndman having to manage a raft of injuries to key players and also coping with the withdrawal of others from the squad. After a win at Loughborough on Thursday night the Welsh based franchise still have high hopes for a top four finish.

Loughborough managed to hold off the Dragons in the first half on Thursday and were only trailing by three goals at half time (28-31). What followed the half time break was a mighty third quarter by Celtic Dragons who were able to extend their lead by scoring twenty goals in this quarter to Lightning's eight. With a final score of 48-65 it was the away team Celtic Dragons who showed greater levels of composure, consistency and connection on court. Nia Jones was once again named ZEO Player of the Match for her ability to dictate and disrupt the attacking flow of Loughborough Lightning. Lauren Steadman was forced to leave the court due to injury and this proved to be a turning point in the game and a major loss for the home team. Whilst Celtic Dragons made fewer changes and were more in touch with their game plan throughout the whole 60 minutes it was still the presence of Cato that proved too challenging for this relatively young and rookie Lightning line up.

Mavericks fancy

So the battle commences now and Mavericks in my opinion will clinch the fourth spot by a narrow margin leaving Celtic Dragons in fifth position. Mavericks will face Team Northumbria and Surrey Storm at home and must travel away to Team Bath and Yorkshire Jets. Celtic Dragons now face Surrey Storm and Manchester Thunder away from home and Yorkshire Jets and Team Bath at home. Mathematically Yorkshire Jets and Team Northumbria could still take the fourth spot but they trail behind now with only ten points in the table. So at this stage I predict Mavericks to take fourth spot by a narrow margin - possibly only two points - over Celtic Dragons should form remain consistent.

So, as the season extends beyond the mid point there is a distinct trend emerging for those who have secured and those in contention for a top four position. With the discerning coaching eye let's take a look at some of the critical factors which are now carving up the league table.


- Shooting accuracy is consistently exceeding 85%

- There are 18 or more shooting opportunities per quarter

- Wing Attack and Centre are achieving a 85% success rate in feeding the shooter in the circle

- Total goals scored in a game is exceeding 60

- There is a strong sense of leadership being show cased in the attacking and defensive units such as Sara Bayman, Tamsin Greenway, Pamela Cookey, Hannah Reid and Layla Guscoth

- Effective pairings of players are emerging in attack and defence for example: Dunn & Greenway, Guscoth & May, Corbin & Corbin, Cookey & Allison, Reid & Holland

- The top performing teams show greater consistency in their starting 7 players

- Greater consistency in performance across the four quarters is evident

What remains is an exciting four rounds of matches for each of the teams in contention for that fourth position - who is your favourite to take the last spot in the play offs?