VNSL Round 4a preview: Standalone games kick off new round
SIX games played across four days – including a triple treat on Monday – is what faces fans in the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) for Round 4. The standalone fixtures take place over Friday, Saturday and Sunday, culminating in the huge Monday fixture, with Surrey Storm doing the double this round. We preview the three weekend matches.
Friday, February 18 @ 7:30pm GMT
Team Bath Arena
Kicking off Round 4 of action, Team Bath will be looking to make it three from four coming off a strong win over Leeds Rhinos last round, and now facing the winless Surrey Storm. Bath also claimed a victory over Strathclyde Sirens on the opening day, before going down in a four-goal thriller to London Pulse. The Storm have only played the two games, with plenty still to play out, but would love nothing more than a big scalp on the road. So far they only know life on the road, having lost to Severn Stars at the neutral Resorts World Arena, before putting up a sterling effort in a high scoring eight-goal loss (68-76) to Manchester Thunder last week.
Team Bath is littered with stars, as Layla Guscoth has been sensational in defence, pairing up well with wing defence Imogen Allison, and the midcourt able to get it through to Sophie Drakeford-Lewis and Kim Borger in the goal circle. Serena Guthrie and Phumza Maweni are remarkably still yet to play, showing just how strong the blue and gold side could become. If Maweni does play, she could lock horns with former Sunshine Coast Lightning teammate Peace Proscovia who has put together a couple of impressive efforts up front. The midcourt of Yasmin Parsons and Mikki Austin have a big job containing the Bath equivalent, but will back themselves in for the challenge.
Saturday, February 19 @ 4:00pm GMT
Sports Wales National Centre
Over in Wales, Celtic Dragons will host Leeds Rhinos hoping to kick-start their season after three consecutive losses. Despite a spirited defeat at the hands of Saracens Mavericks in Round 2, the Dragons have otherwise been smashed by 26 and 28 goals respectively, albeit to last year’s grand finalists. Playing the four 2021 finalists in the first four rounds – including the Rhinos in this contest – is a bit rough for the reigning wooden spooners, but should hold them in good stead for when the Dragons have an easier run at it later on. The Rhinos missed Round 1 and 2 through lack of player availability, but came through with a two-goal win over Strathclyde Sirens, before being humbled by Team Bath to the tune of 20 goals.
Despite having a couple of heavy losses, the Dragons have blooded a number of impressive players with Shaquanda Greene-Noel having an eye-catching start to her VNSL career. She has teamed up well in defence with ex-Lightning defender Annabel Roddy, whilst fellow newcomers Georgia Rowe and Lefébre Rademan have made some good connections in the other goal circle. It will take quite the effort to overcome the Rhinos who are still let to unleash new recruit Sigrid Burger, though ex-Dragon Amy Clinton will be keen to step up against her former side. Jade Clarke and Brie Tyler Grierson have combined well through to the attacking end, whilst Vicki Oyesola has been a rock in defence.
Sunday, February 20 @ 3:00pm GMT
University of Worcester Arena
Severn Stars will hope to even their win-loss columns for the season against Saracens Mavericks on Sunday, having dropped back-to-back games after a Round 1 win. They knocked off Surrey Storm on the opening day of the 2022 VNSL season, but have since gone down to Manchester Thunder (25 goals) and Wasps Netball (nine). On the other hand, the Mavericks are running hot with three consecutive wins, including one over the Wasps on day one, before victories over Celtic Dragons and London Pulse, of which all three have been in single digits.
Kadeen Corbin and sister Sasha Corbin have been in fine form for the Mavericks, with Ine-Mari Venter having quickly established herself as the one to beat when it comes to high-volume shooting. In defence, the likes of Jameela McCarthy and Razia Quashie pair well with Jodie Gibson making it tricky for opposition shooters. The Stars have some great young talents including Summer Artman who made the move from Team Bath over the off-season, whilst Michelle Drayne and Nicole Humphrys also joined the side. Liana Leota has already teamed up well with Paige Reed this season, and the Stars are yet to unleash experienced Silver Fern, Cathrine Tuivaiti.