Stacey Francis: Frustration becomes evident as losing run starts to take toll

Stacey Francis retains a strong belief that the Yorkshire Jets can reach their true capacity this season.
Stacey Francis retains a strong belief that the Yorkshire Jets can reach their true capacity this season.
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Would you believe me if I told you that we did it again? Round 9 of the Vitality Netball Superleague saw Yorkshire Jets defeated in quite spectacular fashion for the ninth straight game at my old stomping ground and against my old franchise, Team Bath.

The result was our second worst of the 2016 season, our heaviest defeat coming against Loughborough Lightning on Super Saturday in the opening game of the season. The match finished 67-37 to the home side and a 30-goal loss means our winless season continues.

Our starting seven remained unchanged for the third game in a row, but after a positive first few opening minutes, an injury to Lydia Walker saw us have to reshuffle our pack.

The wheels fell off very early for us as Team Bath brought an attacking mind-set to the game and their South African goal shooter slotted all 19 of their goals in the first quarter as they established a healthy 19-10 lead.

The second quarter was to follow suit with competitive opening minutes, yet the home side overpowered us and went on to lead 37-18 at half-time.

Changes were made for both sides at half-time with Bath replacing their South African for Welsh international Chelsea Lewis and Megan Clarke making her first appearance this season for the Yorkshire Jets at goal keeper.

The third quarter saw improvements made with a much more even 14-10 quarter score, but the damage had already been done.

The difference with 15 minutes of the game to go was 23 goals. Lewis continued to provide a deadly target under the post for Bath, although Megan made a great impact, as did Lucy Harris.

We hoped for a good end to the game, but it was instead a disappointingly familiar story as Bath extended their advantage, taking the final quarter 16-9.

Credit has to be given to Bath shooters Lenize Pottinger and Chelsea Lewis who were ruthless in front of goal and converted 92 per cent and 90 per cent respectively, whilst mid-courters Jo Vann and Mia Ritchie fed with ease into the shooting circle.

This week I read a blog by @teachingmum81 that I saw on Twitter. Many of the sentiments that she had written about resonated with me on what had been a netball week I was happy to forget with extremely guilty thoughts of the end of the season beginning to sprout in my mind.

Having been a netballer and an umpire on Saturdays in and around West Yorkshire for the last 15 years, @teachingmum81 said “I can guarantee that no matter which court I turn up at on a Saturday, I will see someone I know, like and admire and that’s a lovely thing to be able to say.”

Although my levels of disappointment in the Jets’ team performances remain, upon reflection there are several individuals that I have admiration for – many I have already mentioned in this column.

Within the same blog, 
@teachingmum81 spoke about a very driven woman who obviously inspires her. She wrote: “Driven by the love of the game and her passion for her club, this lady will always put others’ needs before her own; she is selfless and inspiring and the perfect pin up for what a good player should look like. She is all about the team and encourages others to be the best they can be. Who doesn’t want a friend like that in their life?”

A few people close to me spoke about feeling my frustration throughout the game on Friday, which really disappointed me.

In times of pressure and when it is so easy to let my worst traits come out, I am thankful for having received this gentle reminder about my own aspirations for the season and the vision that I have of leading and inspiring the team towards our true capacity.

The next round of the Superleague sees us take on reigning champions Surrey Storm on Saturday (March 26) in our penultimate home game at Leeds Beckett University.

With the business end of the season rolling around quickly, with top-four places still up for grabs and teams coming into form, it is sure to be another tough encounter.