Thunder, Rhinos win VNSL Round 9 thrillers

THERE were a couple of Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) thrillers in Round 9, with two games decided by three goals or less. In a battle of the top three sides, Manchester Thunder won by three goals over London Pulse, and Leeds Rhinos triumphed over Saracens Mavericks by two goals. In other results, Loughborough Lightning knocked off Severn Stars, whilst Wasps defeated an understrength Team Bath in the former’s first of two games this round.

  • Team
  • Saracens Mavericks
  • Leeds Rhinos

In a ladder-defining early clash, Leeds Rhinos drew within three points of Saracens Mavericks after knocking off the fourth placed side by two goals in a thriller at Hertfordshire Sports Village. The Rhinos started strong throughout the contest to hold a four-goal lead at quarter time, and though the Mavericks trimmed that to three by the main break, the Rhinos steadied in the third quarter. The visitors scored 13 goals to 11 to open up a five-goal buffer, and though the Mavericks stormed home bravely, they fell two goals short, 51-53.

Brie Tyler Grierson earned Player of the Match honours for her eight goals at 100 per cent accuracy, whilst also picking up 13 feeds, an intercept and two turnovers playing between goal attack and wing attack. Sienna Rushton put up 28 goals from 29 attempts, whilst Sigrid Burger managed 17 from 18. Up the other end of the court, Vicki Oyesola was terrific with four intercepts and four turnovers in the win.

Missing a number of key players, the Mavericks were brave in defeat, with Britney Clarke (22 goals from 23 attempts), Kadeen Corbin (18 from 19) and Chloe Essam (11 from 18) contributed to the total score, whilst Razia Quashie tried hard in goalkeeper with five intercepts, two deflections and five turnovers.

Saracens Mavericks travel to Team Bath Arena to face the blue and gold in a battle for fourth, whilst Leeds Rhinos have an important clash against London Pulse to stay in touch with those top four sides.

  • Team
  • Manchester Thunder
  • London Pulse

Top of the table Manchester Thunder held off an in-form London Pulse by three goals in a match that lived up to all expectations. The Thunder were yet to lose a match this season, whilst the Pulse were running hot having not lost since Round 3. Even with the home side dealt a big blow pre-game with the loss of Eleanor Cardwell to Health and Safety Protocols, the Thunder stepped it up in the first half to lead by three goals at quarter time and four at half-time. The Pulse hit back to reduce it back to three by the final break, but could not ultimately force their way back in front, going down, 48-51.

Captain Laura Malcolm starred in the win to earn Player of the Match honours with her work rate and determination. In the absence of Cardwell, Joyce Mvula stepped up with 45 goals from 49 attempts, whilst Natalie Metcalf (four from eight) effectively played as a second wing attack, nailing 17 feeds. Lois Pearson (two from six and 12 feeds) had an impact coming on, whilst Caroline O’Hanlon recorded 22 feeds, whilst Kerry Almond racked up 10 deflections, five turnovers and one rebound.

Olivia Tchine powered to 40 goals from 44 attempts, supported by Sacha McDonald (eight from 10, and 15 feeds). In defence, Funmi Fadoju was enormous with eight deflections, nine turnovers, three rebounds and an intercept. She worked well with Lindsay Keable (two intercepts, three deflections and five turnovers) in the defensive goal circle.

Manchester Thunder have a top of the table blockbuster clash with fellow undefeated side Loughborough Lightning on Monday, whilst London Pulse have a standalone Saturday afternoon battle with Leeds Rhinos in another huge match.

  • Team
  • Severn Stars
  • Loughborough Lightning

Producing the most commanding performance of the day, unbeaten Loughborough Lightning came back from a quarter time deficit to storm past Severn Stars by 14 goals (70-56). The Stars actually lead by a goal at the first break following an impressive 18-17 quarter. After that though, the visiting side got back on track, winning the next two quarters by six and seven goals as they piled on a total of 38 themselves to race out to a 12-goal lead. Finishing off strongly, the Lightning proved too good, and capped off the win by extending the final margin by two.

Mary Cholhok was unstoppable at goal shooter, piling on 52 goals to her name, whilst collecting four rebounds. Ella Clark (15 goals from 19 attempts, two rebounds, one intercept, two deflections and 25 feeds) was clearly a standout all night, playing a brilliant goal attack role. She was only marginally topped in feeds by Hannah Joseph (26), whilst Zanele Vimbela (eight deflections, one intercept and four turnovers) was solid as always in goal keeper.

Playing her first meaningful minutes of the season, Cathrine Tuivaiti contributed seven goals at 100 per cent for the Stars, with fellow ex-Silver Fern Liana Leota putting up an equal game-high 26 feeds, as well as two intercepts. Katie Harris managed 23 goals from 25 attempts, whilst in defence, Lucy Herdman and Summer Artman combined for nine deflections, six intercepts and 11 turnovers despite the loss.

Loughborough Lightning face fellow undefeated side Manchester Thunder on Monday, March 28, with Severn Stars travelling to Emirates Arena on Friday night to take on Strathclyde Sirens.

  • Team
  • Wasps Netball
  • Team Bath

Stringing together some great form, Wasps Netball were able to put up an impressive performance against an understrength Team Bath outfit. Wasps looked far too strong from the outset, piling on 17 goals to 10 in the opening quarter, then won the second and third terms by three and four goals respectively to open up a 14-goal buffer at the final break. Bath was brave until the final whistle, scoring 15-13 in the last term, but the more composed Wasps side – with 26 less penalties – won by 12 goals, 62-50.

It was an even contribution from both Lucy Parize (30 goals from 36 attempts and 13 feeds) and Rachel Dunn (29 goals from 33 attempts and nine feeds), whilst Josie Huckle (four intercepts, three deflections and five turnovers) and Rachel Fee (three intercepts, two deflections, four turnovers and one rebound) worked well in defence. The Wasps were able to give court time to a massive 12 players during the win, with Iona Christian‘s 17 feeds being the most in the side.

Team Bath was massing Roses internationals, defender Layla Guscoth and Bath captain Imogen Allison for the clash, giving ex-Wasps wing defender Lily-May Catling and developing talent Molly Hole an opportunity in teh defensive third. They held up well, with Phumza Maweni (four deflections, one intercept, five rebounds and seven turnovers) being the leader there. Jessica Shaw had a match-high 23 feeds, as well as two rebounds, whilst Betsy Creak shot 21 goals from 22 attempts.

Team Bath hosts Saracens Mavericks on Friday night, with Wasps Netball still having another clash for this round tonight against Surrey Storm.

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