History was made as Birmingham dominated a strong Bath side to fly into the Championship finals with a 60-42 victory, as they showed exactly why they are league champions and now finalist for the first time in their history.
It was advertised as a showcase and that is exactly what it was, as Birmingham put on an incredible display of netball in what everyone thought would be a much tighter affair.
Bath are a side with the same high quality of players as Birmingham, but with Superleague players in their ranks, as well as academy players coming through, this was a game that was unlikely to be plain sailing for Birmingham.
However, thanks in part to an impressive crowd that packed out the showcourt, ensuring home advantage, Birmingham pulled off an impressive win.
The Lions came out fighting, as within the first 5 minutes they took a 9-0 lead which stunned everyone in the crowd and on court as it was expected Bath would put up much more of a defence to Birmingham’s strong attacking players and solid defence.
This domination continued throughout the first quarter, with Bath managing to get down to their attacking end at points but they had no answers to the talent Birmingham were displaying as they took a 21-7 lead.
Into the second quarter, Bath had a slight comeback as they scored 5 consecutive points, however Birmingham did not let their lead slip as they pulled it back to a 15 point lead in no time once they settled back into the game.
It was in this quarter the Lions tactic became even clearer, they were to utilize the assetof Kat Short and her height as the attacking players were accurately passing long balls from outside the circle into her which the goal keeper could not compete with and she got each and everyone in.
Although, the GA Louise Marsden should not be overlooked, as her effective and clinical movement in the circle enabled space to be created for Short to receive those long balls, with the quarter finishing at 34-18.
Changes were made for both teams in the mid court going into the second half, and these changes gave Bath an advantage as this was the first time Bath had matched Birmingham’s energy on court.
Birmingham seemed to dip slightly in this quarter, with movements and drives not being as clinical and passing became less accurate, however the lead remained 15 at the end of the third quarter with thanks to the continued excellent shooting from all Short, Marsden and the change of Helen Carter-Roberts.
Everyone in the arena could sense that this was Birmingham’s game as we went into the fourth and final quarter and they did not dip at all this time.
The defence limited Bath once again, as GD & GK, Fran Williams and Maddie Munro displayed a fierce performance in the defending circle to stop any fightback Bath attempted. Birmingham kept their passion right up until the final whistle, when the crowd erupted and Birmingham took the game 60-42, finishing on an 18 point lead.
A game that Birmingham were potentially branded underdogs, they came out and proved their talent and performed the same way they have done all season, with a smile on their faces and playing some of the best netball in the country. With the 2’s making it to the finals in the previous week, this year is Birmingham’s year!