There’s a new kind of hoops in Parkhead with the Sirens netball team already playing to a sellout crowd, writes Isobel Irvine.
Kicking off Sky’s TV coverage of this season’s Vitality Netball Superleague were the newest two teams in the competition with the Sirens franchise, based in Glasgow, taking on Wasps at the Emirates Arena.
Huge interest in the fixture saw all tickets go the week before doors opened and, from the vocal pitch-level of the support, it was successful in attracting a large proportion of young female enthusiasts for the game.
With a nod to basketball-cum-boxing build-ups, the Arena lights dimmed, a bouncing sound and light show introduced the players individually to the crowd, and it was game on.
A searing pace was set from the whistle, with the visitors settling into a rhythm first and maintaining a three or four basket lead in the first half of the quarter. Sirens soon got into their stride however, more than matching Wasps’ skills, with shooter Carla Borrego pitching her tent at the net to notch up the scores. Edging into the lead, the home side maintained the margin to finish the first fifteen-minute session 19-18 to the good.
It was all Wasps, however, in the second quarter as they rediscovered their mojo with some searing breaks, pinpoint passes and worthy intercepts, their Centre and Goal Attack pivotal in the change of fortunes which saw them complete the half-hour 19-32 ahead and preventing Sirens from scoring a point.
A celebrity netball challenge at half-time kept the crowd entertained before the third session of play where the home side got their head back in the game. Some cracking intercepts – notably from attacker Ellen Halpenny and defender Rachel Forbes – and a wider variety of passes brought the scores within a few nets. Borrego and Halpenny rarely missed the target – though occasionally relied on the rebound – but as tired legs set in, the quarter ended 32-42 against the home side.
Electric encouragement from the crowd saw the Sirens battle hard to register the win – along with some great recovery heroics from the experienced Borego to keep the ball in play – in the last session of action, but Wasps nailed down the win (43-57).
Not the opening victory which would have sealed a tremendous amount of hard work behind the scenes for all involved in the franchise, but flashes of promise against a team of vastly experienced players at this level.
As the season progresses and Sirens build their on-field partnerships, expect to witness home wins at the Arena. A breath-taking night out and an inspiration to Scotland’s young female population – let’s go Sirens, let’s go!
Don’t miss our Sportswoman Magazine in-depth feature on the birth of the Sirens in our next print edition.
Sirens (starting seven)
Aitken-Pinnock, Forbes, Brownie (c), O’Hanlon, McCleery, Halpenny, Borrego
Wasps (starting seven)
Reid, May, Flanagan, Msomi, Haythornthwaite, Dunn, Fisher
Saturday 25 February
Sirens v Celtic Dragons (2pm, Genting Arena, Birmingham)
Saturday 4 March
Manchester T v Sirens (5pm, away)
Monday 13 March
Team Northumberland v Sirens (7.45pm, away)
Saturday 18 March
Loughborough v Sirens (6pm, away)
Monday 27 March
SevernStars v Sirens (7.30pm, away – live on Sky Sports)
For tickets, see www.sirensnetball.com