VNSL Round 10 preview: Covid chaos causes two more postponements

TWO more Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) games have been postponed heading into Round 10, leaving just three matches to preview for the weekend. Both the Team Bath and Saracens Mavericks, and Strathclyde Sirens and Severn Stars clashes have been postponed due to COVID-19 cases in the Bath and Stars camps. The rescheduled clashes will be announced in the near future. It leaves three clashes across the rest of the round and just one on the weekend with Leeds Rhinos and London Pulse going head-to-head. On Monday, the top two undefeated sides Loughborough Lightning and Manchester Thunder lock horns, whilst Celtic Dragons and Surrey Storm battle it out later that evening.

  • Team
  • Leeds Rhinos
  • London Pulse

Saturday, March 26 @ 3pm GMT
EIS Sheffield

Suddenly becoming the first match of the round, Leeds Rhinos can leap into the top four with a win at home against London Pulse tomorrow afternoon. The Rhinos have built some form of late, and with the exclusion of a forgettable 24-goal loss to Manchester Thunder in Round 7, have won three of their past four matches, including a vital two-goal win over Saracens Mavericks last start. The Pulse’s five-game winning run eventually came to an end last round by doing down to the Thunder, but lost no admirers in the clash, taking it right up to the ladder leaders but falling three goals short.

Leeds has formed a versatile front third, with Sigrid Burger, Sienna Rushton and Brie Tyler Grierson all capable of putting up big scores, whilst Jade Clarke is the experienced force in the middle the Rhinos need. London Pulse’s defence has been more than up to the task all season, with Funmi Fadoju, Lindsay Keable and Zara Everitt linking up well in the defensive third. Olivia Tchine has been a shooting machine this season, whilst Ashleigh Dekker will have a crucial clash with Clarke in the midcourt. London Pulse will be favourites for this one, but it will be interesting to see if the home court advantage can help the Rhinos.

  • Team
  • Loughborough Lightning
  • Manchester Thunder

Monday, March 28 @ 5:30pm
Sir David Wallace Arena

The first of two Monday fixtures sees the match everyone has been waiting for, a clash between the two undefeated sides. Manchester Thunder has won nine straight to start the season, with Loughborough Lightning (8-0) having one game in hand against the ladder leaders. The battle at the top is quite a fascinating one, with the Thunder having a higher goals average, but the Lightning better on the defensive end, making this a huge clash. If the Lightning can win by three or more goals, they will take top spot, whereas in any other scenario, the Thunder will retain pole position.

After missing last week, Roses shooter Eleanor Cardwell will be keen to get back and join up again with Joyce Mvula and Natalie Metcalf in that famed attack. There are plenty of terrific head-to-head clashes all over the court, with Alice Harvey and Fran Williams in the defensive circle, whilst the potential matchup of Metcalf and Beth Cobden is a dream for Roses fans. Even the centre clash between Natalie Panagarry and Caroline O’Hanlon will be one to watch, with the experienced Kerry Almond looking to contain towering post shooter Mary Cholhok in order to take home the win.

  • Team
  • Cardiff Dragons
  • Surrey Storm

Monday, March 28 @ 7pm
Sport Wales National Centre

Completing the reduced round of matches, the Celtic Dragons will be hoping to get on the board for the season time this season, when they take on Surrey Storm. The last placed Dragons have won just the one game from nine matches, and that was against fellow bottom two side Severn Stars. They are heading into this game with a three-match losing streak, and will be keen to bounce back. By contrast, the Storm have won their past two matches – including a nail-biting two-goal win over Saracens Mavericks – and will be the side to beat in this contest.

The Storm have got consistent performers across the court, with Peace Proscovia able to put up a high volume of shots thanks to the feeding of Yasmin Parsons and the work rate of Mikki Austin up and down the court. Teenager Sophie Kelly got a chance in goal attack last game in took her opportunity as a great rotation option, whilst Leah Middleton and Alima Priest have formed a strong bond in the defensive circle. Speaking of defensive circles, Shaquanda Greene-Noel is having a wonderful VNSL debut season, teaming up well with Annabel Roddy. Up the other end of the court, Georgia Rowe and Lefébre Rademan work well together off the feeding of Shona O’Dwyer.

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