2023 NSL | Round 18 preview: The end is nigh

THIS weekend may be the third last round of the 2023 Netball Super League regular season, but already we are starting to see parts of the competition wind down for 2023.

This weekend hosts the final match the for the Surrey Storm, who then have a two-week break before they are back in action for the finals.

They face the Loughborough Lightning on Friday night, which is certainly a tough way to finish their regular season. They already know they will play finals, but then have to nervously wait to see where in the top four they will finish.

The Lightning are also trying to finish as high in the top four as they can, but have two games in hand over the Storm, so have more time to try and catch the top of the table Pulse.

The battle between Sophie Drakeford-Lewis and Fran Williams is sure to be an interesting one. One is back in the Roses squad for the upcoming World Cup, the other is a travelling reserve. Both are having great seasons, and will certainly be a tough opponent for each other.

The Storm-Lightning fixture is the third match of a Friday night triple-header. Earlier in the night and over in Wales, the Dragons will be hosting the Pulse.

The Dragons will be coming into the clash with a little bit of added confidence after almost pinching a win over the Storm, but do face a much tougher challenge against the top of the table Pulse.

This clash is likely to be a battle of the defenders, with Funmi Fadoju, Halimat Adio, Ella Powell-Davies and Shaquanda Greene-Noel all likely to play a big part in the result of the match.

At the same time the Dragons and Pulse do battle in Wales, further north in Manchester the Thunder will be hosting the Severn Stars.

After a frustrating few weeks, the Stars will be keen to get back on track and finish out the season strong. They face a Thunder side who currently sit in fourth, but will be trying to spend the next few weeks trying to win as many matches as they can to try and finish as high as they can in the top four.

It is the battle of the South African goal shooters in this one, with both Lenize Potgieter and Sigrid Burger such crucial members of their respective sides and no doubt keen to shoot their way to another win.

The only match on Saturday sees a meeting of the Blue and Gold sides as the Rhinos host Bath.

This may be a battle of eighth versus ninth, but neither team has anything to lose anymore, so this could be an entertaining contest.

The battle of the wing attacks is sure to be an entertaining one, with Ali Wilshier and Caroline O’Hanlon both set to play a crucial role in determining which side takes the chocolates.

That is not Bath’s only assignment this weekend, with the Sommerset side having to back up on Monday night to take on the Mavericks.

Last time these two met it was a narrow win to the Mavericks, so time will tell if history repeats itself again this weekend.

It is the battle of the goal keepers in this clash, with both Razia Quashie and Jayda Pechova having stellar seasons and both are set to play a crucial role in helping their side get the win.

NSL Round 18 2023 Fixture

Manchester Thunder vs Severn Stars – Friday at 7pm – Belle Vue Arena
Celtic Dragons vs London Pulse – Friday at 7pm – House of Sport
Surrey Storm vs Loughborough Lightning – Friday at 7:30pm – Surrey Sports Park
Leeds Rhinos vs Team Bath – Saturday at 5pm – Allam Sports Centre
Saracens Mavericks vs Team Bath – Monday at 5:30pm – Hertfordshire Sports Village

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