It was not a long wait before the England Thorns were back on court showing the electric crowd at Worcester University Arena the best that Men’s netball in England has to offer, taking on Netball Super Leagues Severn Stars. Building upon their first match against Saracens Mavericks head coach Sharron Lewis-Burke had the opportunity to see some of the new and young members of the England Thorns in action.
Vice-captain Tommy Wiseman had already clocked the structure that Severn Stars have been playing with this season and was ready to take on the challenge. The Thorns quickly found their footing in quarter one, with connections building between the shooters. Decisive movement from Lewis as goal shooter allowed captain Thomson-Boston to feed him well under the post and Lewis even delighted the crowd with a layup or two. Oliphant in Wing Attack and Ramsdale-Owen having never played together were quickly able to highlight thr court craft, directing play and on his debut Ramsdale-Owen maintained a high shooting percentage. Building on their experience from the Australia tour McClelland and O’Connor were able to cause headache for the Severn Stars attack coming up with some flying intercepts and tips. Thorns did not have the quarter all their own way and the well drilled Severn Stars meant that they stayed within contention throughout these 15 minutes. The sparks of the connections through the court were beginning to ignite and Thorns were able to take a small lead of 10 -16.
The full Thorns leadership team made an appearance in the 2nd quarter with the introduction of the ‘King of the Wing’ Wiseman but this time showing his ability in goal defence. Although Thorns were able to make it 15-30 at half-time, the defensive structures from Severn Stars ensured Thorns could not runaway with the second quarter forcing errors from the squad and making the feeds to the shooters that bit more difficult. They confused the space and forced the Thorns to make quick passes which were not always fruitful.
The 3rd quarter allowed head coach Sharron Lewis-Burke show the versatility and breadth of her new squad moving Lewis into goal keeper, Thomson-Boston into Wing Defence, Green made an appearance at centre and new addition Tom Allen was placed at Wing Attack. Vincent was on at goal shooter and at the young age of just 17 Guinebault moved to goal attack. New combinations often meant that in this quarter Thorns were moving to fast for themselves and transitions through court could have taken more patience whilst the new combinations settled. However, the crowd were introduced to the high-arcing shot of Guinebault, with the ball coming down with snow on to swish through the net making it hard for the defence to challenge his shot. Vincent showed his strong hold ability in the circle meaning the shooter-to-shooter connection was finding traction. As the quarter progressed the experience of Severn Stars began to shine as they took the quarter 12-11. Stars were showing their speed and structure was not to be messed with.
The final quarter saw the re-introduction of more experienced Thorns players to see the game through. Accurate shooting from Severn Stars and confident contest from goal keeper Jas Brown, even against the height of Vincent made for an thrilling last quarter. More patient play from the Thorns allowed them to cross the finish line with a 20 goal win of 38-58.
After the match young gun Guinebault reflected on his debut saying “It was such a great learning experience. To be out on court with people that I’ve looked up to and admired for the past year is unbelievable and to do it against such a strong Severn Stars side was a privilege”. Two wins from two in three days has left Thorns with a very happy coaching team and a very welcome headache of a versatile and athletic squad. The hard work now begins as the squad head to camp in the build up to the series against the Jamaican Men’s team at the end of June.
Captain James Thomson-Boston "We couldn't have asked for a better team to test out our newly formed 2023 playing squad. The stars put us to the test with great ball speed while matching our physicality through the court.
It was great to get 4 Thorns debutants onto the court throughout a hard fought four quarters with them quickly adjusting to the pace of a super league environment.
We can't wait to bring what knowledge we gained from this game to our first training camp of 2023 later this month"
Check out more photos from the game HERE