Vitality Netball Superleague wrap: Round 10

ROUND 10 was a gamechanger for the competition as the season had its first repeat round for 2019, seeing each team come up against their Round 1 rivals for a second time. London Pulse were unable to replicate their debut victory against the Severn Stars, while Loughborough Lightning conjured an exciting upset win over ladder leaders, Wasps Netball.

Bath were lucky to get their sixth win of the season over the weekend, taking the lead against Celtic Dragons in the first half. Though their intensity dropped in the second half they still came away with a six goal win (56 – 50). The Dragons showed composure as they stayed relatively level with the higher ranked side, however could not get the job done in the tightly contested match. Credit to the Dragons for staying in the match, shooting only one goal less in the second half to keep Bath on their toes. Bath player of the match, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis was prolific in goals, showing her versatility as she moved from goal attack to goal shooter after the opening half without skipping a beat. Still being rested from injury meant star centre, Serena Guthrie sat out of the first quarter, before coming on in the second to spark an instant change in her team. As usual, having Guthrie in the side lifted the strength of the defensive end, comprised of Imogen Allison, Eboni Usoro-Brown and Summer Artman, with the trio driving to win back possession and storm the Dragons’ attack. Lucy Herdman got the call-up in goals for the Dragons, playing out the match and proving the impact her inclusion can have on the side. Herdman paired well with powerhouse goal attack, Kalifa McCollin, who did her job well in the circle. Dee Bolakoro and Stacian Facey were efficient in defence, but were unable to combat the effective shooting combinations of Bath. Bath will be rueing the opportunity to boost their percentage on the ladder with their third win in a row, and are still sitting one game behind Lightning in fourth, but have opportunities in the coming weeks.

Next up saw Surrey Storm defeat Strathclyde Sirens, 53 – 44 in their first home victory for the season. It was not a close game by any means, as the Storm took an early lead, sitting six goals ahead by half time and ready to press harder in the third, rendering the Sirens to only nine goals in the third. The Sirens showed some intensity in the final quarter, pushing to win the term by a goal and turn around their average third quarter effort. Despite missing key shooter, Cat Tuivaiti the Sirens showed the hard work they have been fostering this season, with the likes of Gia Abernethy and Hayley Mulheron piling on the pressure. The Sirens have a lot of promise if they can boost their consistency throughout the match and push their opposition for more than just the final quarter. Sigi Burger dominated under the ring for the Storm, while defenders, Katy Hughes and Shadine Van Der Merwe pushed hard to regain loose ball in the midcourt and conjured impressive intercepts.

Pulse were unable to pressure the Severn Stars enough to be rewarded with their second win for the season, going down by nine goals (51 – 60). The Stars proved to be too strong this time around despite being well-matched by the Pulse across the court, winning their third match for the season. The likes of Stars defender, Sam Cook stepped up in this matchup to put her side back on the winners list after a hard fought loss to the Wasps last round. Cook was tough on dominant Pulse shooter, Shantal Slater making it hard for her to have an impact on the match and the scoreline, however Slater still found it in her to put ball to post and capitalise for her side. Stars shooters, Maryka Holtzhausen and Georgia Rowe paired well under the ring, showing their composure and playing more purposeful in the final quarter to take home the win. Pulse defender, Loreen Ngwira proved to be difficult to get past for the Stars, with her impressive hands over pressure keeping the Pulse in the game.

Saracens Mavericks hosted Manchester Thunder in the battle for second on the ladder, with the Mavericks hoping for a better outcome than their Round 1 loss. Unfortunately the Mavericks were unable to redeem themselves this time around, dropping into third on the ladder as they lost by eight goals for a final score of 49 – 57, a margin almost replicating their Round 1 loss. The Mavericks started strong, winning the first term before Thunder turned the game around, shooting 33 – 42 after the first quarter to take home the points. Thunder goal keeper, Kerry Almond commanded the Mavericks shooting circle, showing her strength in defence as she all but took star shooter, George Fisher out of the game after a dominant start to the match. It was the battle between Thunder goal defence, Emma Dovey and Mavericks goal attack, Kadeen Corbin that proved to be the more intriguing matchup, with the pair battling it out in every contest for the ball. Joyce Mvula was excellent in goals for Thunder, maintaining her volume of shots despite the efforts of Mavericks defenders, Jo Trip and Mavericks player of the match, Razia Quashie.

The talking point of this round was Monday night’s blockbuster between top four sides, Wasps Netball (first) and Loughborough Lightning (fourth). The Lightning were backed by a home crowd and defied all odds to win their fifth game on the trot and deliver the Wasps their second loss of the season, 60 – 59. It was a major turnaround from Round 1 for the Lightning as last time they met saw a complete blowout, with the Wasps beating Lightning by 30 goals. The Lightning took control early, winning the first term before bowing to the Wasps’ immense pressure in the second and third quarters. It was the Lightning’s final quarter, however that brought the game back into contention, as Lightning shot 20 goals to 13 in the final term to take the game by one point in the dying minutes. Nat Panagarry showed great hustle for the Lightning, keeping her team in the match with her speedy passes and game breaking intercepts. Teammate, Mary Cholhok was dominant as ever in goals, with her height in the circle making her hard to contain as she flawlessly and continuously put ball to post. Despite Cholhok’s strength, Wasps defender, Josie Huckle did a great job limiting the ball through the circle, especially in the second and third quarters. Katie Harris and Rachel Dunn linked well in goals, credit to their shared volume of shots and composure under the post. Despite their loss, Wasps will stay on top of the ladder for at least one more week, sitting .01 per cent ahead of Manchester Thunder on the leaderboard.

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