By Milly McEvoy
Despite being the most successful team in Vitality Netball Superleague history, Team Bath head into the play-offs with no pressure according to captain Imogen Allison.
The five-time champions travel to the north-west to take on Manchester Thunder, who topped the table having gone unbeaten across the season, in the semi-final on Friday.
Allison, 24, was part of the Team Bath side that lost in the Grand Final last season and has guided her side to the fourth and final play-off spot this time around.
“It's one of those things where we go into the game with no pressure at all. We are just playing for each other, playing for our fans,” the centre and wing defence said.
“We want to win, we are going out to win, there's no doubt about that. Them being unbeaten makes it more exciting for us.
Four teams. One shot at immortality. 👊
It's officially the week of the 2022 Grand Final 🥳
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“Because if we're the team that can beat the team that's been unbeaten all season, that would be quite amazing.
“But it’s definitely doable for us and it’s something that we've been preparing for. I think it's something that we were looking forward to, it's a good challenge to have.”
The England international has already skippered her side to silverware, winning the British Fast5 All-Stars Championship last season, but another title looked far away earlier in the season.
Bath bounced back from injuries and a Covid outbreak that stretched their squad to the limits to confirm their place in the top four with one game to go.
Allison highlighted a 50-49 triumph over fellow play-off chasers Saracens Mavericks as the turning point in their push for glory.
She said: “There was a point in the season where we did have to turn it around a little bit. It showed great character and depth that we have in the squad.
It's game day! Finals Weekend begins with the #BlueAndGold heading north to face #VNSL2022 table-toppers @thundernetball in the @netballsl semi-finals for a third successive season - who will come out on top this time? Find out from 6.30pm!
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— Team Bath Netball (@TeamBathNetball) June 3, 2022
“I think for us, winning that game against Mavs that we had, the rearranged game, because we won by one, it was a big game for us.
“We really, really wanted to win and we really pushed for it, and I think we just really believe that we could do anything from that point because we've put ourselves in the best position to make that top four.”
Whether in the showpiece event or the third-place play-off at London's Copper Box Arena, this weekend will mark head coach Anna Stembridge’s last time in blue and gold.
Players Kim Borger and Rachel Shaw are also retiring giving their teammates the chance to give them the perfect send-off with victory on Sunday.
She added: “Anna’s obviously been a part of Team Bath for many years now and we step out on that court knowing that it's her last season, and we want to be able to put out great performances for her.
“And for other members of our team that are also retiring. Every time we step out, we just want to play well, we just want to play our best and do it for them really.”
Who will be crowned champions? Vitality Netball Grand Final 2022 takes place at London’s Copper Box Arena this Sunday 5 June. Get your tickets here