VNSL 2021: Round 10/11 – Friday & Saturday wraps

THERE has been no shortage of action across Friday and Saturday with five games already played and more still to come as the season continues to heat up and the ladder starts to take shape. Team Bath and Loughborough Lightning kicked off Round 10/11 in style with a couple of strong wins while the Dragons are still yet to record a win.

Strathclyde Sirens (35) defeated by Loughborough Lightning (61)

Player of the match: Beth Cobden (Loughborough Lightning)

Loughborough Lightning bounced back against Strathclyde Sirens to really stamp their authority on the competition and claim a resounding win. Having only met a couple of rounds ago, the Lightning put out a much more comprehensive performance to dismantle the Sirens and run away with a 26-goal victory such was their silky ball movement down the court. Their all-round defensive pressure stifled the movement of the Sirens. It was clear from the opening whistle that Loughborough had one intention, and one intention only and that was to dominate in every facet of the game – a feat they accomplished – given they kept the Sirens to a mere 12 goals in the second half.

The battle between Mary Cholhok and Towera Vinkhumbo was something to behold with neither player willing to give an inch. In the end it was Cholhok that got the last laugh with the talented goal shooter draining 51 goals and while she was down on her usual accuracy missing nine shots was a staple in the circle. Her partnership with Ella Clark and the introduction of youngster Suzie Liverseidge worked wonders for the Lightning. Vinkhumbo was a key cog down back for the Sirens producing three intercepts and eight deflections but was costly when it came to penalties with 17 to her name. Through the midcourt Nat Panagarry and Beth Cobden seemed to have the ball on a string as they nullified the influence of their respective opponents in Bethany Dix and Gia Abernethy.

Leeds Rhinos (46) defeated by Team Bath (52)

Player of the match: Imogen Allison (Team Bath)

It was a nail-biting finish to the match between Leeds Rhinos and Team Bath with the latter just getting over the line by six goals. Getting back to within three goals in the final term the Rhinos simply did not have the capacity to go with Team Bath all the way with their connections and class shining through. After an even start to the game sitting at 10 goals apiece in the opening quarter the introduction of player of the match Imogen Allison proved to be the turning point for Team Bath as they generated more ball out of defence and quelled the influence of the Rhinos. Their ability to peg away at the scoreboard and steadily add goals to their tally enabled to keep Leeds at bay and eventually run away with the victory.

Leeds welcomed back the services of goal shooter Donnell Wallam who well and truly made her presence felt under the post thanks to her 42 goals, showing no signs of her injured wrist. For Bath, the tried and tested combination of Kim Borger (42 goals) and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis were up to their old tricks as the pair only missed a combined three goals showcasing just how potent they can be. Allison was a rock once injected into the game racking up two intercepts and one deflection while the introduction of Summer Artman in goal keeper also paid dividends for the winners. All eyes turned to the contest in the centre with Serena Guthrie and Jade Clarke going toe-to-toe in what was an enthralling battle of stamina, strength and sheer netball nous.

Surrey Storm (33) defeated Strathclyde Sirens (45)

Player of the match: Towera Vinkhumbo (Strathclyde Sirens)

After going down only days before the Sirens redeemed themselves with a convincing win over Surrey Storm to claim their fourth win for the season. The Sirens looked calm and composed out on court, combatting everything the Storm threw at them to dictate the terms of the game and impress with ball in hand. Hitting the court for the first time in two weeks the Storm took a while to find their groove while the Sirens took full advantage of their lack of form to assert their dominance. a blistering second term where they piled on nine goals to two was the real game changer with Surrey unable to eat into the margin as the Sirens continued to push on.

Vinkhumbo keeps getting better and better each time she steps out on court and this game was no different with the goal keeper impressing down back to reel in intercepts and negate the influence of Karyn Bailey by clogging up her space. Vinkhumbo finished with three intercepts and four deflections combining well with Emily Nicholl (three intercepts, two deflections) while Bailey only amassed 21 goals. Sophie Kelly made a strong cameo appearance with nine goals as Frankie Wells produced three goals but struggled for accuracy sitting at 50 per cent. Leah Middleton and Alima Priest had their work cut out for them up against Bethan Goodwin and Emma Barrie in the goal circle with the shooting duo making the most of their opportunities only missing six goals.

Team Bath (37) defeated London Pulse (27) 

Player of the match: Serena Guthrie (Team Bath)

It was a low scoring affair with neither side able to play with a wealth of attacking potency but in the end it was Team Bath that reigned supreme to make it two wins straight from Round 10/11. Team Bath burst out of the blocks piling on seven unanswered goals and while the scoring prowess dropped off as the game went on they still managed to secure the win. It was a scrappy performance by both the Pulse and Bath with both coaches unafraid to tinker with their line-ups and provide an opportunity for fresh faces to make an impact on the contest.

Borger and Drakeford-Lewis were consistent to post once again while Betsy Creak also effectively plied her trade both in goal shooter and goal attack to pile on eight goals. Guthrie had a game to remember linking the attacking and defensive thirds with relative ease and getting hands to ball thanks to her one intercept and four deflections. Layla Guscoth had an impact for the blue and gold notching up five intercepts and four deflections to account for the ever changing Pulse shooters. Sigi Burger was the most prolific goaler of the lot for London sinking 12 and only missing one goal while South African teammate Lefebre Rademan (seven goals), Kira Rothwell (six goals) and Olivia Tchine (two goals) hit the scoreboard. Halimat Adio worked tirelessly against a well-oiled Bath attacking unit recording three deflections, two intercepts and three rebounds but it was not enough to get her side over the line.

Celtic Dragons (23) defeated by Loughborough Lightning (76)

Player of the match: Suzie Liverseidge (Loughborough Lightning)

The Lightning had a field day against the lowly Celtic Dragons who simply could not generate any type of attacking or defensive momentum to combat the Lightning as they run out with a romping 53-goal win. It was the most comprehensive win of the round with the Lightning exploiting their opponents in every which way, limiting them to a mere four goals in both the second and fourth quarters. The Lightning did some of the best work in the second half as they piled on a staggering 44 goals while keeping the Dragons to 11 showcasing their all-round class and dominance.

Cholhok was in scintillating form once again nailing, 52 goals from 58 attempts while also reeling in five rebounds to highlight her overall netball nous and aerial strength. Lucy Parzie made her presence felt in the win shooting 15 goals as did Liverseidge thanks to her nine goals. Alice Harvey was a rock down in defence for Loughborough picking up two rebounds and two intercepts as Samantha May also effectively plied her trade in defence thanks to her two intercepts. It was a team effort from the Lightning as each and every player managed to have an impact in some way or another, especially through the midcourt to shut down the Dragons’ ball movement. Annika Lee-Jones impressed in goal shooter with her nine goals while Amy Clinton plied her trade out in goal attack with 13 goals. Rebekah Robinson shook things up spending time out in wing attack and in the goal circle while Abigail Tyrrell and Christina Shaw could not keep up with Lightning’s attacking prowess despite their best efforts.

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