Harten Stars As Lightning Strike For Second Time At British Fast5 Netball All-Stars Championship

Harten Stars As Lightning Strike For Second Time At British Fast5 Netball All-Stars Championship

Jo Harten fired Loughborough Lightning to a record-breaking British Fast5 Netball All- Stars Championship success as they beat defending champions Wasps Netball in the final at a sold-out Copper Box Arena, London.

Harten, back in the Lightning dress for one day only, scored all 61 of her teams Fast5 All-Stars record 61 points. There was no surprise when she was named tournament MVP for her efforts throughout the day.

It’s the second time Lightning have landed the title, having won the inaugural Fast5 All-Stars in 2017. Wasps had made an early statement of intent in defeating Severn Stars in the day’s opening match, before Lightning beat Superleague champions Manchester Thunder in their first fixture.

The sides then went head-to-head with Lightning coming out 48-20 winners – thanks largely, again, to Harten. From that point they looked clear favourites and with two group wins advanced to the semi-finals, where they edged a thrilling encounter with Celtic Dragons 35-33.

After their defeat to Lightning, Wasps bounced back against Thunder to reach the last four, where they beat Surrey Storm to make their second consecutive Fast5 final.

But in the tournament showpiece, with £25,000 going to the winner, it was all about Harten. Lightning called their iPro Hydrate Powerplay early and took 40 points – all made by Harten – as they opened up an insurmountable 45-10 lead. Wasps narrowed the deficit in their own two-minute iPro Hydrate Powerplay, but it wasn’t enough and when the 12 minutes were up the title went to Lightning, who had scored the most points in a single Fast5 All-Stars match.

“That was so much fun,” said Harten. “I don’t ever play with a smile on my face but this group of girls have been electric all day and the crowd have been electric – what a great atmosphere.

“Sara [Bayman] has led this team beautifully, so id love to play again if they will have me. It has been a pleasure to pull on the purple again. I am 30-years-old now and I feel so rejuvenated; there are young kids, 18, 19, running around working their backsides off to get us the ball. It has been an absolute team effort and a privilege to pull on the purple again.”

Featuring 12-minute matches, an all-star 5-point line and a Golden Buzzer Powerplay, the British Fast5 Netball All-Stars Championship is an all-action afternoon of non-stop, pulsating netball. Teams can include up to two ‘All-Star’ players, and as well as Harten the likes of Stacey Francis (Team Bath), Erin Bell (Manchester Thunder) and Jhaniele Fowler (Saracens Mavericks) all took to the Fast5 court on Saturday.

Double Elimination Group Stage:
Wasps Netball 30
-22 Severn Stars
Manchester Thunder 15-31 Loughborough Lightning
Team Bath 28-40 Celtic Dragons
Surrey Storm 31-17 Saracens Mavericks

Wasps Netball 20-48 Loughborough Lightning
Celtic Dragons 35
-41 Surrey Storm

Severn Stars 14-27 Manchester Thunder
Team Bath 23-36 Saracens Mavericks

Wasps Netball 27-20 Manchester Thunder
Celtic Dragons 38-29 Saracens Mavericks

Surrey Storm 28-35 Wasps Netball
Loughborough Lightning 35-
33 Celtic Dragons

Wasps Netball 35-61 Loughborough Lightning