VNSL Round 8 wrap: Lightning survive challenges

LOUGHBOROUGH Lightning have remained undefeated after eight rounds in the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) but not without some serious challenges across Round 8. The Lightning managed to hold off a determined Wasps outfit, and then powered home after being in trouble early against Team Bath. Surrey Storm also caused the upset of the season by taking down title contender Saracens Mavericks, whilst there was some joy for Bath, defeating Celtic Dragons on Sunday. Completing Round 8, London Pulse maintained their winning streak with a dominant third quarter to spur them onto victory against Strathclyde Sirens.

  • Team
  • Surrey Storm
  • Saracens Mavericks

Surrey Storm caused the upset of the season by taking down title contender Saracens Mavericks by two goals in front of home fans at Surrey Sports Park. The Storm moved to 3-5 for the season and closed in on the top six with the victory, in what was a four-quarter strong effort. Leading by two goals at quarter time and three at the main break, the home side wore the Mavericks’ best efforts to get back into the contest, and with an even final quarter, ended out on top by two goals, 55-53.

Mikki Austin lead from the front in centre, picking up 23 feeds, as well as an intercept and turnover, getting it through to the combination of Peace Proscovia (39 goals from 41 attempts, four rebounds) and Francesca Wells (16 goals from 20 attempts), whilst Felisitus Kwangwa (six deflections, one intercept, three rebounds and seven turnovers) was sensational in defence.

Kadeen Corbin (37 goals from 39 attempts) and Chloe Essam (16 from 22) took control on court without the Mavericks using their bench or leading shooter Ine-Mari Venter. Also trying hard through the game were midcourters Beth Ecuyer-Dale and Sasha Corbin who combined for 40 feeds, five deflections, five turnovers and two intercepts.

Saracens Mavericks play host to Leeds Rhinos next Saturday for Round 9 of action, whilst Surrey Storm have an eight-day break before hosting Wasps on Monday.

  • Team
  • Team Bath
  • Cardiff Dragons

Team Bath grabbed the win their had to get with a 16-goal victory over Celtic Dragons. Bath kept touch with the top four thanks to win, and still have a game in hand compared to three of the four sides above them on the VNSL ladder. Winning the first three quarters, Bath shook off early resistance from the Dragons to win the middle two quarters by a combined 14 goals to set up the 59-43 victory.

The defensive combination of Phumza Maweni – who had a ridiculous eight intercepts, as well as six deflections and nine turnovers – and Layla Guscoth (four rebounds, five deflections, six turnovers and one intercept) shone against the Dragons. Up the other end, a trio of shooters shared the load, with Betsy Creak (25 goals from 29 attempts), Kim Borger (20 from 22) and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis (14 from 14 and 11 feeds) all stepping up to the plate.

Georgia Rowe managed 29 goals from 32 attempts for the Dragons, whilst Lefébre Rademan chipped in with 14 from 19, and nine feeds. Nia Jones (four deflections) and Shaquanda Greene-Noel (two intercepts, three deflections and two turnovers) tried hard in defence.

Celtic Dragons have the quickest turnaround of the two teams, ready to go again on Friday night up against Strathclyde Sirens, while Team Bath take to the court against Wasps on Saturday night.

  • Team
  • Loughborough Lightning
  • Wasps Netball

In another thrilling encounter, Wasps Netball took it right up to Loughborough Lightning on the road, but marginally fell short going down by four goals, 53-57. The Lightning lead at quarter time by three goals, but the Wasps hit back in the second with an impressive 18-14 term to grab the one-goal advantage themselves. Needing to get back on track and steal the momentum, the home side finished the stronger of the two teams, putting up 28 goals to 23 to win by four.

Mary Cholhok continued her wonderful form with 40 goals from 47 attempts, teaming up well with Ella Clark (11 from 12 and 13 feeds). In defence, Ella Bowen (five deflections, one intercept and two turnovers) and Alice Harvey (four deflections, one intercept, three rebounds and one turnovers) did well, whilst Fran Williams got the win against her former side.

Rachel Dunn (28 goals from 31 attempts) lead the way for Wasps, with Gezelle Allison (14 from 17) and Lucy Parize (11 from 17) all contributing. Meanwhile up the other end, Rachel Fee impressed with two intercepts, two deflections, three turnovers and only nine penalties in the loss.

Loughborough Lightning take on Severn Stars next Saturday evening at the University of Gloucestershire Arena, whilst Wasps Netball do the Sunday-Monday double up against Team Bath and Surrey Storm.

  • Team
  • Team Bath
  • Loughborough Lightning

Loughborough Lightning picked up back-to-back wins in Round 8 by triumphing over Team Bath to give themselves an extra boost in chasing down Manchester Thunder’s lead at the top of the VNSL table. The Lightning found themselves in trouble early however, going down by five goals at quarter time against Bath, before bouncing back to only trail by a goal at the next two breaks. The final term was where the game was won though, as the undefeated side dug deep to pile on 18 goals to eight and run out nine-goal winners, 53-44.

Cholhok put up another 32 goals from 37 attempts, and also recorded a rebound and a deflection. Clark managed the 21 goals from 23 attempts, managing two intercepts, one deflection and two turnovers, as well as 15 feeds in a hard-working effort. Williams had a much better performance in this one, managing a match-high four intercepts and three rebounds, as well as one deflection and six turnovers. Natalie Panagarry was super in centre with 18 feeds, two intercepts, one deflection and two turnovers.

The combination of Borger (19 goals from 22 attempts and one intercept) and Drakeford-Lewis (20 from 24 and 12 feeds) worked well, whilst Kirsty Harris had a team-high 13 feeds as well as one intercept. In defence, Maweni and Guscoth were again prolific with seven deflections and three intercepts between them before being overrun late. Imogen Allison provided a steady head in the midcourt.

  • Team
  • London Pulse
  • Strathclyde Sirens

Grabbing a crucial win and therefore maintaining third spot on the VNSL table, London Pulse proved too strong in the third term against Strathclyde Sirens, which was ultimately the difference between the sides. Both sides were neck-and-neck throughout the first half with just 19 goals apiece, but that was soon to change, Bursting out of the blocks in the second half, the Pulse piled on 17 goals to seven in the third term, and that was the final difference as well, running out 10-goal winners, 48-38.

A remarkable nine Pulse players recorded a feed on the day, with only three of the circle defenders not doing so. Speaking of the defence, Zara Everitt (four intercepts, five deflections and five turnovers) was superb in wing defence, teaming up well with Funmi Fadoju (nine deflections, two rebounds and five turnovers) and Lindsay Keable (two intercepts, five deflections, four rebounds and seven turnovers. Up the other end, Olivia Tchine continued her good form with 34 goals from 36 attempts.

A trio of shooters shared the goals around for the Sirens, with Emma Barrie putting up a season-high 13 goals from 16 attempts, the same as Bethan Goodwin, whilst Niamh McCall managed an uncharacteristic inaccurate 12 from 20, though also had 13 feeds and a rebound. Gia Abernethy stood up in centre despite the defeat, recording a game-high 18 feeds, as well as four deflections, one intercept and two turnovers.

London Pulse have a massive task on the road up next against top of the table Manchester Thunder at Belle Vue, whilst Strathclyde Sirens have the quickest turnaround of any side this week, playing again on Friday night against Celtic Dragons.

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