VNSL Round 12 preview: Bath doubles up

FIVE games take place over three days for Round 12 of Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) action, with Team Bath doubling up tomorrow night and Monday. The blue and gold side takes on Surrey Storm and London Pulse, whilst top of the table Manchester Thunder face Severn Stars. In other games, Saracens Mavericks host Celtic Dragons, and Leeds Rhinos clash with Strathclyde Sirens.

  • Team
  • Surrey Storm
  • Team Bath

Friday, April 8 @ 7:30pm
Surrey Sports Park

The standalone Friday night clash sees a massive battle with top four ramifications as Surrey Storm hosts Team Bath with the latter playing the first of their two games for the weekend. As it stands, the Storm are three points clear of Bath with six wins from 11 games, but Bath will overtake the Storm with a victory given the relative goal difference of the sides (plus-37 for Bath and minus-one for Storm). One thing is for certain though, the winning team will occupy fourth spot on the ladder until Saracens Mavericks play the next day. In the case of a draw, the Storm will snatch fourth spot.

The midcourt battle will be the area to watch here, with the likes of Bath captain Imogen Allison and the Shaw’s – Jessica and Rachel – up against a strong Storm group. Leader Mikki Austin with wing attack Yasmin Parsons and wing defence Niamh Cooper will be a fascinating one to watch, whilst the clash between Peace Proscovia and Phumza Maweni will be crucial to the result of the contest.

  • Team
  • Saracens Mavericks
  • Cardiff Dragons

Saturday, April 9 @ 4pm
Hertfordshire Sports Village

After a shaky few weeks, the Saracens Mavericks are looking back on track, and will be heavy favourites against the last placed Celtic Dragons. The Mavericks will temporarily lose fourth spot as per the above game, but would regain it back with a win here, and still have a game in hand – two to the Storm – which has them well placed. The Dragons are a whopping minus-122 goal difference, and would love to double their win tally for the 2022 VNSL season.

The Mavericks have shown their depth in the goal circle of late, with Britney Clarke becoming a strong target under the post alongside Kadeen Corbin, whilst Ine-Mari Venter is her ever-consistent self. Luckily for the Dragons, their defence – despite what the goal difference may suggest – is one of its strongest points, as Shaquanda Greene-Noel and Annabel Roddy have been ever consistent, whilst Nia Jones thrives on disrupting the opposition attack.

  • Team
  • Manchester Thunder
  • Severn Stars

Saturday, April 9 @ 5pm
Belle Vue

Two sides at opposite ends of the ladder, the premiership favourites Manchester Thunder host bottom two side Severn Stars at Belle Vue. The Thunder have beaten every side in the league, clocking up 11 straight wins with a goal difference of 138, and three points clear of Loughborough Lightning. Regardless of result the Thunder will retain top spot given the Lightning have the bye in Round 12, though even the greatest optimist would struggle to make a case for the out-of-form Stars who have dropped nine consecutive matches and have a minus-117 goal difference.

Manchester has stars all over the court, but the attacking end of Joyce Mvula, Eleanor Cardwell and Natalie Metcalf is where the magic happens and the goals pile up. It will be a tough assignment for the likes of Lucy Herdman, Summer Artman and Adi Bolakoro, whilst Bethan Dyke could have a great battle with Roses talent Laura Malcolm.

  • Team
  • Leeds Rhinos
  • Strathclyde Sirens

Monday, April 11 @ 5:30pm
Allam Sports Centre

With no games on Sunday once again, Monday evening action kicks off at the Allam Sports Centre for the first time in 2022, with Leeds Rhinos hosting Strathclyde Sirens. Both sides have been inconsistent this season and are bottom four for goal difference, with the Sirens actually marginally better (minus-52) despite having two less wins (3-7). The Rhinos have managed a couple of tight wins, but also been blown away a number of times, but sit at 5-5 with a goal difference of minus-61. Being six points clear of the bottom four, the Rhinos will not drop any further, but a win could see them leapfrog Team Bath if Bath stumble on Friday night.

The Rhinos midcourt lead by Jade Clarke will always be tough to beat, as Brie Tyler Grierson is in good form, and Sigrid Burger capable of putting up a high volume of shots. The Sirens have their own impressive midcourt, with Bethany Dix and Gia Abernethy both very strong this season, whilst Taylor McKevitt is continually improving season on season.

  • Team
  • Team Bath
  • London Pulse

Monday, April 11 @ 7:30pm
Team Bath Arena

Concluding Round 12 of action, Team Bath is back out on court for the weekend, and this time take on third placed London Pulse. The Pulse are coming off back-to-back losses, though that is arguably not what it seems given both the losses came against the top two sides. It does mean the Pulse are a genuine third ranked side, and will now look to make the most of it against a Bath side whose best is good enough to beat anyone, but has also dropped game it might not normally, which makes it a classic contest.

The Pulse have stars across the court just like Bath, with bookends Funmi Fadoju and Olivia Tchine amongst the most consistent players this season. With Ashleigh Dekker and Zara Everitt holding down the midcourt, the likes of Sophie Drakeford-Lewis and Kim Borger will need to be ready for anything, with Layla Guscoth an intercept machine at her best.

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