Stacey Francis: Going through the motions will not do – we have to keep fighting

The Netball Superleague has proved a tough learning curve for Stacey Francis and the Yorkshire Jets this season.
The Netball Superleague has proved a tough learning curve for Stacey Francis and the Yorkshire Jets this season.
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The ways in which to open a column when the end message is the same is one of many challenges that I am facing this season. A rather small one, considering.

When we met Loughborough Lightning in our opening game of the 2016 Vitality Netball Superleague on Super Saturday in January both the occasion and the opposition overwhelmed the Jets as we lost out 34 goals to 65.

I see the second half of the season, however, as an opportunity to continue to progress from the performances that we have already had and prove that we are a better team than the scorelines have reflected in the first half of the season.

Loughborough Lightning have been no strangers to their own adversities this season.

Having recruited excellently in the off-season and with ambitions to finish in the top four for the first time in recent history things have not gone their own way either.

Having already lost England WA Sasha Corbin in the early rounds to an ACL injury, they then last week lost captain and England international Jade Clarke to a professional contract with ANZ franchise Adelaide Thunderbirds – the ANZ Championships is the semi-professional league that is played in Australia and New Zealand.

Given this instability, Loughborough have been getting some good results, however, having run Manchester Thunder so close in the previous round, the Jets felt rejuvenated again.

For most of the game it was a fairly even contest but our lack of consistency made an unwelcomed re-appearance in the final quarter.

It was end-to-end for most of the first half with good pressure from both sides in attack and defence.

The opportunities were there for the taking for us, but Lightning fought hard to maintain their two goal lead going into the half-time break.

It was during the third quarter that cracks began to appear as we came off with a five-goal deficit with 15 minutes to play.

In the final quarter we needed a strong finish to the game, however, throughout the day we had failed to show signs of being able to push out the game at crucial times and consistency was an issue yet again.

Loughborough finished the game strongly and we fell further behind, ending up losing the game by a lop-sided 13 goals.

We hit the road again for our next game as we take on my old team of 10+ years, Bath, on Friday night.

This season so far has been one that has been riddled with challenges and put me in many situations that I have never faced before. I am sure that Friday night will not offer myself or the Yorkshire Jets the respite that we want and need, but my approach and attitude towards each game has to remain the same.

The overwhelming feeling I had after being defeated by Bath in our second game of the first round, 58-38, was extreme disappointment.

We came off at half-time already trailing by 10 goals, which for me in the league this year is far too large a deficit to pull back.

However, it felt very much like we were in contention against a team who are sure to challenge for a place in the final this year.

Each time we step out on court it is an opportunity and this has to remain at the forefront of each of our minds.

My fear is that if it becomes about just making it to the final whistle each game, and at training we are just going through the motions, then not only will we continue to lose but we will not even finish the season as better individuals than what we started.

I have never before played at the Sports Training Village in Bath as the opposition and throughout the years I have felt a phenomenal amount of support from the South West crowds.

Never one to back down from a challenge, I look forward to exposing old team-mates’ weaknesses, embracing the underdog title that is undeniable and continuing to drive the Jets towards a greater level of consistency in a place that will feel very much like home.