NSL Wrap Up | Round 1 2024 – A full smorgasboard

THE Netball Super League returned with a bang over the weekend, with all ten teams converging on Nottingham for the season opener.

In the most thrilling of the results on the weekend, the Cardiff Dragons and Saracens Mavericks played out a thrilling 48 goal all draw.

In what was a case of saving the best for last, the Dragons will rue not taking full advantage of their dominant start to the match.

The Dragons’ defence was on point from the opening minutes of the match, with a new look line up of Leah Middleton, Jacqui Newton and Nia Jones being rewarded with plenty of turnovers and Georgia Rowe and Phillipa Yarranton were making full use of them up the other end.

This saw the Dragons to have an absolutely dream start, putting on the first five goals of the match before the Mavericks even got one on the board.

Despite the impressive efforts of Vicki Oyesola in her club debut and to a lesser extent Razia Quashie, it was not enough as the Dragons continued to dominate the opening quarter.

The Mavericks however did turn things around as the quarter progressed and managed to get within a goal of the Dragons, but as the quarter drew to a close the Dragons still held a two goal lead.

Things were a lot tighter to open the second quarter as the Mavericks did not take too long to eliminate the quarter time deficit before the Dragons broke away again to restore their quarter time lead.

Proceedings remained tight throughout the rest of the quarter as the Mavericks levelled things up again and even took the league as the final few minutes drew near. The North Londoners pulled away late to take a four goal lead into the main break.

Things went into a holding pattern for much of the early parts of the second half as the margin did not change very much.

However, one thing that had continued to grow was the Mavericks’ defence, and it was really starting to become very dangerous.

This saw the likes of Emma Thacker really be able to lift their influence on the game, and eventually led to the Mavericks’ being able to grow their lead even further, with it almost reaching the double digit mark.

Much like in the second term though, there was a late quarter comeback, this time from the Dragons, which saw them retake the lead and still hold it by the smallest of margins at the final change.

The final quarter really was the tightest of the lot.

Teams continue to trade goals and neither side was able to establish any kind of breathing space for themselves.

It truly went down to the final seconds, with the Mavericks pushing towards one last goal late, but a well timed intercept meant that they were thwarted at the depth.

In other results:

  • Loughborough Lightning got their title defence off to the perfect start, downing the Surrey Storm by 13 goals.

The Lightning shot out to a seven goal quarter time lead, but then the Storm came right back at them to take the lead by half time. The Lightning then countered with a massive third quarter and that was the breaking point for the Storm. The win was soured though by an injury scare to skipper Natalie Panagarry, while the Storm copped an injury of their own with new captain Amy Flanagan also going down.

For the Lightning Mary Cholhok was on fire under the ring, while Hannah Joseph had a really strong game through mid court.

Meanwhile Bethany Dix also had a strong game in mid court for the Storm, while Rachael Fee had an impressive game in defence in her debut in new colours.

  • “New team? No worries!” said Team Bath as they held on for a narrow win over the Strathclyde Sirens.

Things were tight but in Bath’s favour early, before the Sirens flipped the script and took the lead in the third term. However, they were unable to maintain it in the last term as Bath reasserted control and took the win.

For the victors Jayda Pechova had a strong game in defence, while Phoebe Maslen was impressive in her return to the Super League court.

Meanwhile for the Sirens Sesandile Ngubane impressed in her Sirens’ debut, while Towera Vinkhumbo had another solid game to continue where she left off last season.

  • Manchester Thunder showed they once again mean business this season, downing last year’s Grand Finalists the London Pulse by 16 goals.

The Thunder won every quarter and just kept building on their lead as the match progressed.

Natalie Metcalf had a big game for the Thunder and really threw her body at the match. Imogen Allison also had a strong first up game for her new side.

Meanwhile for the Pulse Funmi Fadoju picked up a whopping 10 gains in another solid performance in defence, and was ably assisted by Halimat Adio.

  • Severn Stars got their season off to the perfect start, comfortably downing the Leeds Rhinos by 16 goals.

The win was set up by a +5 goal opening quarter to the Stars, and wrapped up with a +6 goal final term.

Jasmine Brown was really impressive in defence for the Stars, as was Jessica Shaw in mid court.

Meanwhile Michelle Magee and league debutant Zoe Davies both impressed for the Rhinos.

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