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British Fast5 All-Star Championship: Team Bath Netball win 2021 title at Copper Box Arena

Anna Stembridge's team secure the title and the £100,000 prize fund for the first time after beating Saracens Mavericks in the final; Layla Guscoth was named MVP

Team Bath Netball
Image: Team Bath Netball overcame Saracens Mavericks in the final contest of the day (Image credit: Matchroom Multi Sport)

Team Bath Netball won the British Fast5 All-Star Championship for the first time following a victory over Saracens Mavericks in the final at the Copper Box Arena.

Anna Stembridge's team did not win a game during the last edition of the competition back in 2019 and fell at the final hurdle the year prior to that.

However, a composed campaign secured their place in the 2021 final and, in it, they stayed calm against a side that had the crowd under their spell from their first walk-on dance - Saracens Mavericks.

Both teams worked hard to reach the deciding contest. Team Bath Netball secured two single-goal victories in their earlier matches, while Mavericks knocked out the 2019 champions, Loughborough Lightning, 51-30 and overcame Manchester Thunder in their semi-final.

The 2018 champions, Wasps, who were once again inspired by the long-range accuracy of Rachel Dunn, were the ones to fall to Team Bath in the second semi-final.

Team Bath Netball put Saracens Mavericks' shooters under huge pressure in the final (Image credit: Matchroom Multi Sport)
Image: Team Bath Netball put Saracens Mavericks' shooters under huge pressure in the final (Image credit: Matchroom Multi Sport)

During the final, Team Bath produced consistent netball. At one end their shooters kept the scoreboard ticking with three-point shots and, at the other, outstanding defensive pressure held Mavericks at bay.

Throughout, the class of England international Layla Guscoth came to the fore. Alongside her defensive partners, she was able to disrupt the flow of Mavericks' shooters Chloe Essam and Kadeen Corbin.

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Saracens Mavericks
Image: Despite a loss in the final, Saracens Mavericks had tremendous energy and enthralled the crowd with their work (Image credit: Matchroom Multi Sport)

Prior to the final, Essam and Corbin had stunned the crowd with their accuracy from the three and five-point zones, and yet with Guscoth on their shots, they unable to get into the same groove.

In contrast to matches in the double-elimination round, neither Bath nor Mavericks put their foot on the gas during their Golden Buzzer Power Play periods.

It remained 12-6 to Bath after theirs and Mavericks did not produce the 10-point tallies they had done previously, only adding six points during their period. As a result, the 23-17 final score was one of the lowest of the day.

Team Bath Netball - Route to the title

Opening match Team Bath Netball 27-26 London Pulse
Second match Manchester Thunder 36-16 Team Bath Netball
Third match Team Bath Netball 23-17 London Pulse
Semi-final Wasps 28-29 Team Bath Netball
Final Saracens Mavericks 17-23 Team Bath Netball

"We've really enjoyed it," Stembridge, Team Bath's head coach, said after their victory.

"The close games - winning by just one goal - I know that it's great for the spectators but it's not great for my hair! I've got grey hairs now!!"

Despite struggling with Bath's tense finishes, Stembridge reserved particular praise for Lucy Herdman, who was on loan from Severn Stars for the competition.

"Lucy has been brilliant; she came in and really fitted in with the squad. All credit to the squad in terms of embracing her too. It's been great having our Roses athletes back and the girls prepared really well for this competition," she said.

"Ultimately, you play a game to win but we also talk about having fun. Having that loss to Thunder [in the second game] put some fire in our bellies and it made sure that we went on and delivered performances that we were proud of."

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