This week was very special, as it was the run up to Yorkshire Jets’ first-ever Superleague semi-final.
Our head coach, Anna Carter, had rigorously planned our training sessions to fine tune our game plan; including physiotherapy, sports massages, video analysis and team meetings to try and ensure that both our bodies and brains were in tip-top condition!
In spite of this we managed to squeeze in some ‘all important’ team bonding on Wednesday night, starting at Bliss on Otley Road where we were all treated to a pedicure. The beauticians did a great job of keeping their faces straight as they set to scrubbing off plenty of thick skin; removing endless blisters and trying to fake a painted nail where there was none to be seen!
I think the beauticians were also a little surprised to witness a local tsunami when Timmy sunk her size 12 feet into the foot spa and all the water overflowed!
Next it was some serious ‘carb-loading’ at Georgio’s in Headingley. I’m not sure the restaurant knew what had hit it when a squad of starving netballers and coaches, including Anna who is 37 weeks pregnant, walked through the door and then demolished plate after plate of delicious creamy pasta.
Before we knew it, Saturday had arrived and we were piling into our Fourways executive coach and safely delivered to Guildford, where we were to encounter second-place Surrey – ‘The Storm’ between us and a place in the Grand Final!
We knew that we were the underdogs; however a recent string of strong performances improved our confidence. Jets started the match in fine form, forcing the strongest attacking unit in the league to make uncharacteristic errors.
Meanwhile our attackers were performing well, confidently feeding our shooters, who were incredibly accurate – Timmy Cato continuing to prove why she is the Number 1 Shooter of the Superleague. Our team efforts were rewarded with a one-goal lead at the end of the first quarter.
Our aim was to try to win each quarter and so we knew that there could be no drop in intensity. This quarter was all about the shooting machines, Timmy for Jets and England’s Rachel Dunn racking up goals for Storm. In the end it was Jets who took more interceptions to increase the lead at half-time to 36-34.
Unfortunately, it was a game of two halves. Storm made some crucial changes in their defensive end at half-time and, after seven minutes of end-to-end action, they finally broke the flow of balls into Timmy. The experience of the Storm’s attack, consisting of three senior England players, really started to show – they remained calm and self-assured, ensuring that each ball got to goal.
Anna responded by making changes to our attacking end in a bid to regain some control but disappointingly Storm continued to make interceptions, gradually increasing their lead out of our reach. The final score was Storm 76, Jets 60.
However, the season is far from over and if we were honest with ourselves – beating Surrey Storm was a big ask! Next weekend is when we really have to step up and prove that we are worthy of our play-off position in the league, as we compete for third place at the Copper Box Arena in the Olympic park.
During our coach journey home from Guildford, we watched the other semi-final which was held at the Manchester Arena. In a shock result, Hertfordshire Mavericks, who Jets have actually beaten twice already this season, claimed victory over the home side Manchester Thunder.
Things never go quite as expected in Superleague, as this was the first time that Manchester Thunder had forfeited a match and now they would have to face Jets in the 3rd/4th play-off.
Jets are quite excited about the prospect of another Battle of the Roses, as we were beaten by only one goal during our last encounter.
Surely, a perfect end to the season would be defeating last year’s champions, Manchester Thunder, to secure that bronze-medal position!