SEVERN Stars head coach Sam Bird says the outcome of her team’s match on Saturday will depend on which side gels best after changes to both since last season.

Stars visit 2018 Vitality Superleague runners-up Loughborough Lightning after just losing out 51-49 to newcomers London Pulse in their first game of the new season last weekend.

Bird said both sides had changed personnel over the summer break which would be a key factor.

“I’m looking forward to playing Loughborough,” said Bird.  “They are a new-look side with a new coach so it will be good to take them on.

“Both Loughborough and Stars have changed significantly from last season with both sides losing players to play in Australia and other VNSL teams so it’s about who gels best on Saturday.

“It’s another opportunity for us to see what we can do against last year’s finalists.”

The match at the Sir David Wallace Arena at 6pm will see Stars keen to get some points on the board after coming close against Pulse at the Super Ten event at Arena Birmingham.

With just two minutes to go the two teams were level on scores, having been neck and neck for much of the second half, but Pulse took the victory in the final seconds by scoring off a turnover.

Following the game Bird said she had been encouraged by the improvement seen as the game progressed but called on her team to show their “excellent” passages of play more consistently. 

After the disappointment of the defeat Bird said her players had been training hard in preparation for their next encounter.

She said: “We have an exciting combination of players who just need time to develop their connections and understanding but the work ethic and enthusiasm to perform well together is really pleasing.

“We are away again so Loughborough have the home advantage but we have worked hard in the week and are looking to see that work put into effect.”

Stars lost England forward Ellie Cardwell to Manchester Thunder during the close-season and centre Laura Malcolm also headed north to join her.

They host their first home game at the University of Gloucestershire Arena on Friday, January 25, against Celtic Dragons.