VNSL Round 19 wrap: Final four locked in

ALL four teams are locked into the Final Four spots, with the ladder positions and semi-finals of the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) all decided. Top of the table Manchester Thunder have too much of a goal difference gap on Loughborough Lightning and will finish top to take on Team Bath, while the reigning premiers Lightning will lock horns with London Pulse in the second and third final.

  • Team
  • Team Bath
  • Wasps Netball

Team Bath secured its place in the VNSL Final Four by defeating a gallant Wasps Netball by two goals. The home side took a while to break away from their opponents, leading by a goal at half-time and three goals by the final break, before holding on against a fast-finishing Wasps outfit who won the final term 10-9. Luckily for Bath they had done enough to secure the overall victory 43-41 and sit an unbeatable six points clear of Saracens Mavericks with a round to play.

Captain Imogen Allison earned Player of the Match honours after stepping up in centre to finish with 10 feeds, two deflections, one intercept and one turnover in Bath’s win. Also impressive were defenders Layla Guscoth (four intercepts, six deflections and four turnovers) and Phumza Maweni (one intercept, five deflections and one turnovers), whilst Hannah Passmore shot 27 goals from 36 attempts. For the Wasps, Rachel Fee tried hard in goal defence with three intercepts, three deflections and three turnovers, while Rachel Dunn scored 25 goals from 27 attempts.

Team Bath take on Saracens Mavericks in the final round next weekend, while Wasps Netball close out their season with a clash against Strathclyde Sirens.

  • Team
  • Leeds Rhinos
  • Saracens Mavericks

Leeds Rhinos might not have been able to make finals, but they did cause a huge boilover, defeating Saracens Mavericks by four goals to knock the fifth placed Mavericks out of Final Four contention. The Rhinos lead by three goals at quarter time and seven by the main break. While the Mavericks hit back in the second half to win the last two quarter by one and two goals respectively, it would not be enough as the Rhinos got up, 62-58.

Goal keeper Tuaine Keenan was superb for the Rhinos, notching up two intercepts, two rebounds, four deflections and five turnovers. She teamed up well with Vicki Oyesola (four rebounds, one intercept, seven deflections and six turnovers. Amelia Hall racked up 32 feeds, while Sigrid Burger was sensational in goal shooter knocking down 59 goals at 100 per cent efficiency. Her South African teammate Ine-Mari Venter was not as accurate up the other end, scoring 36 goals from 43 attempts. Jodie Gibson (five deflections, two turnovers) and Sasha Corbin (15 goal assists, two deflections) were both strong in defeat.

Leeds Rhinos close out their season against London Pulse next Saturday, while Saracens Mavericks face the side that took fourth spot in Team Bath.

  • Team
  • Cardiff Dragons
  • Strathclyde Sirens

Strathclyde Sirens claimed an important win on the road against Celtic Dragons, but not without a second quarter fight from the Welsh side. The Sirens raced out to a two-goal lead at quarter time, but the home team was determined not to get blown away, and levelled the scores by the main break. Stepping up in a big way in the third quarter, the Sirens scored 13 goals to eight to open up a five-goal advantage at the final break, before extending that out to 11 with a 15-9 final term for a 51-40 victory.

The Sirens defensive combinations of Towera Vinkhumbo, Emily Nicholl and Taylor McKevitt were desperate throughout the game, as they forced numerous deflections to keep the Dragons attack on its toes. The attacking combination that was not only Niamh McCall but a combination of Emma Barrie and Bethan Goodwin applied plenty of scoreboard pressure. It was no surprise to see the defensive unit of Shaquanda Greene-Noel and Annabel Roddy strong once again, while Lefébre Rademan worked hard in attack and Hannah Leighton was also productive.

Celtic Dragons finish off their season with a clash against Surrey Storm, while Strathclyde Sirens have a double fixture in the last round, playing Wasps Netball at home on Friday night, before an away clash with Severn Stars on Sunday afternoon.

  • Team
  • Loughborough Lightning
  • Severn Stars

Loughborough Lightning continued to tune up for finals with a commanding win over last placed Severn Stars. The reigning premiers will finish second on the table this season, and they capped off the penultimate round with a 20-goal victory over the Stars. The Lightning won every quarter, and they got stronger after a relatively close first term, then they piled on 48 goals to 31 to run away with the contest.

In an even spread of goalscorers across the Lightning, Mary Cholhok (29 goals from 35 attempts), Ella Clark (18 goals form 23 attempts, 17 feeds, two rebounds and tow deflections) and Emma Thacker (19 goals from 24 attempts, one intercept, one deflection and one turnovers) alls scored big. Defender Fran Williams (five turnovers, two rebounds, two intercepts and one deflection) did well with wing defence Ella Bowen (two intercepts, two deflections and two turnovers). Cathrine Tuivaiti (22 goals from 25 attempts) and Paige Reed (17 from 21) did their best in attack for the Stars, whilst Lucy Herdman was enormous in defence, racking up a ridiculous 13 turnovers, 10 deflections, six intercepts and one rebound.

Loughborough Lightning take on Manchester Thunder in a potential grand final preview next Monday, May 30 to close out the regular season, while Severn Stars finish off their disappointing year with a home fixture against Strathclyde Sirens on Sunday.

  • Team
  • Surrey Storm
  • London Pulse

London Pulse guaranteed itself third spot barring a capitulation, defeating Surrey Storm by seven goals in an impressive effort. The Pulse lead by two goals at quarter time and had doubled that by the main break, though the Storm hit back in front of home fans to reduce the deficit to three by the final break. A 10-6 last quarter for the Pulse saw them secure the 45-38 victory, and third spot.

Defenders Funmi Fadoju and Lindsay Keable combined for 20 deflections and 11 turnovers while at the other end, Olivia Tchine shot 26 goals from 30 attempts and had a rebound. Her partner-in-crime Sacha McDonald helped herself to a team-high 16 feeds, as well as 11 goals from 17 attempts. Mikki Austin tried her best in centre for the Storm, amassing a match-high 24 feeds, while Leah Middleton (eight deflections, one intercept, one rebound and six turnovers) and Felisitus Kwangwa (two intercepts, two rebounds, three deflections and six turnovers) tried hard in the defensive goal circle.

Surrey Storm close out their year with a winnable fixture against 10th placed Celtic Dragons.

  • Team
  • London Pulse
  • Manchester Thunder

Manchester Thunder guaranteed its top spot and minor premiership place with a hard-fought, six-goal win over London Pulse. The Thunder trailed by a goal at quarter time and five goals at both half-time and three quarter time. It looked as if the Pulse might hand the Thunder their first loss of the season, but as always, the Thunder had other ideas, pulling a 20-goal quarter out of nowhere, while restricting their opposition to just nine goals, to run out 56-50 victors.

Roses super shooter Eleanor Cardwell earned Player of the Match for the Thunder, scoring 30 goals from 33 attempts and having seven feeds. Her partner-in-crime Joyce Mvula put up 17 goals from 19 attempts while Natalie Metcalf managed nine goals from 10 attempts when she went into the goal circle, to accompany her 6 feeds, one intercept and one turnover. Tchine scored 27 goals from 28 attempts for the pulse, while Fadoju had another huge defensive game with a ridiculous eight intercepts, three deflections, 10 turnovers and one rebound.

London Pulse takes on Leeds Rhinos in the final round on Saturday afternoon, while Manchester Thunder goes head-to-head in a top of the table clash with Loughborough Lightning to close out the season on Monday night.

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