THE Jersey Netball Association’s performance lead, Serena Kersten, was on the sidelines for her first taste of live Team Jets action since taking on the new role earlier this year – with her two-month-old daughter in tow. And it was a sweet one for the former England captain.
A third and fourth win in a row in South West Division I – against Exeter and Galmington – consolidated the Islanders’ stranglehold over second in the table this weekend, as the halfway point of the campaign draws near.
Another job well done, following a topsy turvy opening few weeks earlier this autumn.
‘We’ve only dropped two games out of six so it has been a good first half of the season so far,’ Kersten said. ‘But more importantly we’re making inroads with our performances and the defence is turning over lots of ball. It’s been a really good weekend.’
Jets’ latest long weekend on mainland turf began with another confidence-building display against Exeter. They kicked off with a 12-6 first-quarter and converted it into a 47-33 success.
Kersten and coach Linda Andrews shuffled their attacking unit at half time, with co-captains Jacy Brown and Rosie Tonner both advancing up the court as Toni Chaytor took the centre bib.
It was a move that paid dividends, with Jets effectively sealing the game in the third quarter through a 15-5 blitz, for a 37-22 lead.
Exeter did pull one goal back in the fourth but there was little doubt over where the full five league points were heading.
Doubt was also absent from the Islanders’ minds yesterday morning, thanks mainly to a stunning opening period that featured 23 goals via the hands of Emily Green and Leah Griffin.
After moving 4-0 up, Jets pieced together five- and ten-goal runs to leave Galmington facing a mountain. A 12-goal advantage, at 23-11, was extended to 15 by half time – although Galmington did hold their own to greater effect – and six tactical changes at the second break provided an opportunity for squad-wide game-time without limiting performance.
With only Jodie Blampied keeping hold of her bib, the Caesareans moved 51-35 to the good in the third quarter and ran away with it in the fourth, scoring a further 19, to Galmington’s nine.
‘All of the players are coming up to an even level now,’ Andrews explained. ‘That’s the most pleasing thing and it means that when we make changes there isn’t a dip. We can make changes and we don’t lose any momentum.
‘We were confident from Saturday and we came firing out of the blocks [yesterday]. The girls were ruthless and Emily [Green] was dominating the shooting circle. It was easy to get the feeds in to her and she was so consistent with her shooting.’
Discussing the near-wholesale changes made yesterday, Andrews added: ‘We were trying to work on our next games, because we haven’t got Jacy or Molly [Carré] for them. We wanted to give more court time to all of our players to make sure they’re confident, and it worked. We’ve worked so hard in training, working on the principles that we know we’re good at, and everyone stepped up.’
She also had a word or two of praise for Jets’ former captain, Lauren Devine – the defender who has made a return to the court this season after a couple of years away.
‘Lauren’s voice and experience at the back was great,’ Andrews said. ‘She’s really vocal on the court and it makes you accountable for what he’s really vocal on the court and it makes you accountable for what you’re doing.’
Jets will end the calendar year with trips to Swindon and Bath on 3 and 4 December, to play Poole and Team Bath A, respectively.