TEAM JETS put in a stunning performance in their final South West Regional League I match of the season to clinch their place at national play-offs and set up an emotional send off for long-serving coach Linda Andrews.
Facing league leaders Premier Romans A, Jets got off to a flyer and set themselves up for a 52-47 win in Bristol yesterday – allowing them to leapfrog their opponents to the top of the table.
They are unlikely to stay there, with Romans still to play bottom side Pinehurst, but with the Bristol side ineligible for promotion not only did the win secure the coveted play-off spot, it gave Jets confidence in their ability to beat the best.
‘It was the game we needed to finish because they challenged us all over the court and it was a terrific game,’ said Andrews.
‘Thankfully we did the business in the first quarter to give ourselves that cushion to get through the game, leading 21-7. We just blew them away. It was tremendous. Everybody was just on fire. It was incredible.
‘They are a really classy team. The win gives massive confidence for the girls.’
Romans fought back and scored more points than their guests in each of the remaining quarters, but Jets kept in control to keep them at bay.
Much of the hard work to secure the play-off spot had already been done 24 hours earlier, when Jets comfortably dispatched Mavericks, 60-41. Wing attack and Jets co-captain Rosie Tonner was named player-of-the-match for both games, but the win also demonstrated the strength in depth in the squad, with youngsters Chloe Lagadu, Georgie Ruellan and Katie Doyle making their debuts.
‘We came out of the blocks firing on that one as well. We were 16-8 up after the first quarter,’ added Andrews.
‘It was a physical game and there were lots of different combinations happening but all credit to them, they managed to link together and stick together and produce the win.
‘It’s all about trusting the process and just making sure that whichever combination was on they knew the principles that we know work really well for us.’
After the play-offs, Andrews is fully handing coaching duties to Serena Kersten, and though it will mark the end of a very long era, the Jersey Netball Association president is excited for the future of the team, under the guidance of the former England captain.
‘It’s been massive and I’ve loved it,’ said an emotional Andrews.
‘I’ve been with them all the way along this journey and all the ups and downs we’ve had. It is emotional but I’m so happy that Serena has taken over the reins. You couldn’t have anybody better with calibre she’s got. She’s a legend and she’ll push Jets into a completely different stratosphere because of her knowledge.
‘I remember the day when we went [to the play-offs] the first time, the support we had and what the emotions were like then. It is just super exciting for where Jersey netball is again and where it’s going to go to now. Not many people can say they’ve got the ex-England captain as their coach and all the experience that she’s had in New Zealand, Australia and England.’
Jets will join eight other regional-league entrants and the bottom three clubs from Premier League 3 at the promotion-relegation play-offs in late April, at the University of Worcester Arena. Just three of the 12 teams will earn a spot on the national pyramid for 2023/24 – a prize that would guarantee Jets their first home fixture in over four years.
Regional sides are not obliged to travel across the Channel for their fixtures, but Premier League teams must do so, under England Netball regulations.