Vitality Netball Superleague wrap: Round 5

WITH two close matches book-ending the round and all but one side losing in front of a home crowd, it was certainly an interesting week in the Vitality Netball Superleague.

Game one of the round saw Strathclyde Sirens host the Celtic Dragons on Friday night. The Dragons managed to secure their second win for the season in the four-point victory, beating the downtrodden Sirens 50 – 46 in the tough tussle. With their second victory under their belt the Dragons have already equaled the number of 2018 wins, showing their improvement since last season and proving that they can only go up from here. A physical game through the entire court, Dragons defenders, Dee Bolakoro and Stacian Facey were pivotal in turning over the ball to push the Dragons ahead, though Sirens shooter, Cat Tuivaiti gave back as much as she received. Sirens midcourters, Gia Abernethy and Nicola McCleery were clinical, creating opportunities in the goal third and feeding into the circle. With the Sirens dropping to eighth on the Vitality leaderboard after this loss, the side will be rueing their missed opportunities on the scoreboard. Meanwhile, Dragons will take on ladder leaders, Wasps Netball next week, so will want to pull out all the stops to push the top side.

Severn Stars hosted highly ranked Manchester Thunder to open Saturday’s matches, losing to the Thunder by 13 points (49 – 62). This win takes Thunder to four-from-four for the season so far, while the Stars are still only sitting at one win for the season following this loss. The Stars looked promising early, with defenders, Jodi-Ann Ward and Sam Cook dominating down back and not allowing any easy shots through the ring. However, the Stars faltered after half time as the Thunder stormed ahead with a 21 to 11 third quarter effort. Thunder were clinical with their take on the game, causing unforced errors from the Stars, which ultimately cost the home side the game. Joyce Mvula was a force to be reckoned with after coming on midway through the second to dominate in goals for Thunder, while Amy Carter and Emma Dovey were clever in defence against any combination the Stars threw at them. Stars shooter, Georgia Rowe put in the hard yards under the ring in the final quarter to bring the Stars back into the match, with the Stars winning the quarter 16 to 12 to pull away from a full flogging. The Stars will take on a fired up Surrey Storm side next week, so will want to improve on their four quarter effort ahead of the match.

The second Saturday match took place between Loughborough Lightning and Team Bath, with early season ladder leaders, Bath taking home the 15-point win (50 – 75). Though Bath are still sitting third on the ladder with one loss, this strong win boosts their percentage which will help in the long run. Lightning are now sitting unevenly in seventh with only two wins from their five matches, meaning the side will have to lift in form to ensure they stay out of the bottom three in the coming weeks. Hannah Joseph was impressive for the home side, with the Lightning wing attack working effectively through attack to feed to goalers, Ella Clark, Mary Cholhok and Brittany Coleman. Sisters, Jess Shaw (Lightning) and Rachel Shaw (Bath) took the court as opposition for the first time in 2019, with the pair putting on a tough show in the midcourt throughout the match. A clinical and relentless defence was key for Bath, with Summer Artman and Charlie Curtis keeping Lightning advances well at bay. Centre, Serena Guthrie dominated the midcourt, while Kim Commane was almost flawless in goals, playing out the match and shooting at an impressive 96 per cent.

A struggling London Pulse side hosted Surrey Storm over the weekend, with Storm pulling out a stunning 20 point win over the Pulse despite having sat dead last on the ladder at the end of round four. Storm were a class above Pulse on the day, shooting 46 – 69 and rocketing from tenth to sixth on the leaderboard. Pulse seemed stunned at home, unable to capitalise at the ring with Storm’s defence in their way. With Pulse only down by eight goals at the final change they still looked to have some fight in them, however Storm put on the accelerator and shot a momentous 20 goals to eight in the final quarter to bring home a well-deserved win. Storm’s Yasmin Parsons and Shadine Van Der Merwe were dominant through the midcourt, causing issues for Pulse’s attack, while Sigi Burger appeared to have the ball on a string in the goal circle. Pulse couldn’t seem to settle into their ideal shooting combination, with Shantal Slater, Kira Rothwell, Chiara Semple and Frankie Wells all taking a turn in the ring. Pulse will want to focus on their fourth quarter effort ahead of their next match when they take on ninth placed Strathclyde Sirens.

The final game of round five was a real nail biter, with Saracens Mavericks challenging ladder leaders Wasps Netball until the end of the match. Wasps ultimately came out on top, beating the Mavericks 54 -50, however had a major scare from the opposition after dominating every other game of the season so far. The Mavericks were strong in defence, with Mavericks goal keeper and player of the match, Razia Quashie a dominant force providing turnovers and holding back star goal attack, Rachel Dunn from shooting her regular bag of goals. Mavericks shooter, George Fisher dominated in goals against her old side, connecting impeccably with shooting partner, Kadeen Corbin in the goal circle. Wasp, Sophia Candappa took the court after half time and was a force to be reckoned with in wing attack, flawlessly landing on the circle edge to feed into goal.

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