IN the wake of the 2022 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) season finishing, we have taken a look back at how each team fared. We continue the 11-team countdown with the sixth placed Leeds Rhinos, who challenged for a finals spot at different times, but ultimately fell short.
Goals For: 1019 (7th)
Goals Against: 1146 (9th)
Goal Difference: -127 (9th)
SEASON IN A NUTSHELL
Leeds Rhinos had a real mixed bag of a season, coming away with some nail-biting wins, but also suffering some heavy defeats. That was further emphasised being the third worst side for both goals conceded and goal difference. The season started off with a couple of tight wins over Strathclyde Sirens and Celtic Dragons either side of a 20-goal loss to Team Bath, symbolic of what was to come. They again won a couple of nail-biters over strugglers Wasps Netball and Severn Stars to sit 5-2 after seven matches. A 24-goal thumping at the hands of benchmark side Manchester Thunder and defeats to London Pulse and Loughborough Lightning were only soothed by a two-goal upset win over Saracens Mavericks. Further losses to the Sirens, Dragons and Wasps had the Rhinos in a real hole, as their sole April win came against an understrength Team Bath. Three wins from their next four games in May were combined by a total of six goals, that being the Surrey Storm, Stars and Mavericks, with the loss being a record-breaking 49-84 loss to the Thunder. The Rhinos had a chance to snatch fifth off the Mavericks in the final round, but went down to London Pulse by seven goals.
Both the wins over Saracens Mavericks were impressive, but the second game at home which resulted in a four-goal win was the pick of the pair. The Rhinos lead from start to finish, and though the Mavericks challenged them in the second half, could not catch them, and Leeds won 62-58. Sigrid Burger shot a remarkable 59 goals at 100 per cent, outscoring her SPAR Proteas teammate Ine-Mari Venter (36). In defence, Vicki Oyesola (seven deflections, six turnovers, four rebounds and one intercept) and Tuaine Keenan (four deflections, five turnovers, two rebounds and two intercepts) were both strong. Amelia Hall racked up 32 goal assists in the win.
It was tough to decipher a clear star player at the Rhinos, so the defensive pairing of Oyesola and Keenan was one to watch. Oyesola played 19 games in her second season at the Rhinos, racking up 38 intercepts, 19 rebounds, 72 deflections and 75 turnovers, all increased from the previous year. The 24-year-old worked well with Keenan, who in her second season picked up 16 rebounds, 30 intercepts, 41 deflections and 67 turnovers, being more aggressive and proactive under the post.
ONE TO WATCH
Hall only turned 23 in April and enjoyed a far greater role playing in wing attack for the Rhinos. Though the shooting circle often changed, Hall was able to fire off an impressive 321 feeds across 20 games, also collecting four intercepts, five deflections and seven turnovers in a step up from her 2021 season.
Leeds Rhinos showed progression at different points in the season, but could not find the consistency against the top sides on the whole. There was a lot of change in scenery for the club on and off the court, though the defence, along with Hall and captain Jade Clarke consistent in the midcourt. If they can gain another experienced midcourter to slot into wing defence, then the Rhinos could stem the opposition’s scoring flow.