VNSL 2021: Round 3 – Monday wrap

WITH a number of matches played on Sunday afternoon at Studio 001 in Wakefield, just two Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) matches remained as Monday night’s proceedings rolled around, with the first played between two sides heading into their second matchup of the weekend, and the second encounter between sides that had at least a week off since their last match. Intriguingly, it was the former between Celtic Dragons and Surrey Storm that produced the higher scoring encounter, as a tight match between Wasps Netball and Team Bath completed the third round of VNSL for 2021. Read our Sunday wrap HERE.

Celtic Dragons (40) defeated by Surrey Storm (56)

Player of the match: Karyn Bailey (Surrey Storm)

For two sides coming into their fourth match in just a week, a tight encounter was had for much of the game as Surrey Storm came away with their second win to render the Dragons winless and pile on the pressure. A tight opening half set the tone for the match before a huge second half saw Surrey – led by ball magnet Yas Parsons and player of the match Karyn Bailey – run away with a 16-goal victory. Whilst the Dragons had kept tight up until the final break, an eight-goal deficit turned into the final margin as the side’s tired legs failed to keep up with Storm on a mission, putting up just five goals to Surrey’s 14 in the last. To the Dragons’ credit, the connections seem to be there and steadily improving as Shona O’Dwyer and Amy Clinton combined well in attack, but it was Bailey who held down the fort for the Storm as she held strong and shot true under the post, aided by a long-bomb happy Frankie Wells who was solid out in goal attack.

Both teams were unafraid to ring in the changes, with Mikki Austin and youngster Sophie Kelly taking the court as the match heated up whilst Leila Thomas and Sophie Morgan helped keep the Dragons’ scoreline close under pressure. Defensively, both sides found plenty of loose ball as Storm’s Leah Middleton and Dragons’ Christina Shaw created some excellent intercepts, with the physical encounter proving tight up until the final quarter when the Storm ran away with the contest.

Wasps Netball (39) defeated by Team Bath (44)

Player of the match: Sophie Drakeford-Lewis (Team Bath)

It was a match of two halves between Wasps and Bath, with the two teams looking to stamp their mark on the competition. Whilst it was Bath that got out to an early lead credit to a 25-15 first half, the Wasps fought their way back into the contest with an excellent second half, culminating in a 13-8 final quarter as the blue and gold side came away with a five goal win and bragging rights under pressure. It was Bath’s accuracy and full court defensive prowess across the board that kept them afloat, only missing one attempt for the match and racking up a whopping 17 deflections – seven to England Roses returnee Layla Guscoth alone. Player of the match Sophie Drakeford-Lewis proved once more why she is a force to be reckoned with, piling on 14 goals straight and showcasing her match awareness with her read of the play and playmaking in attack, finding Kim Borger (30 goals from 31 attempts) at the post with ease.

For the Wasps, it was the consistency of Rachel Dunn and Katie Harris that kept the side in the hunt throughout the contest, with the former piling on 25 goals and the latter adding pressure with her ability to create play out the front alongside Sophia Candappa. But the duo – assisted by newcomer Gezelle Allison – could not hold up under Bath’s defensive barrage, as Tash Pavelin and Eboni Usoro-Brown both made their presence felt, with Wasps defenders Josie HuckleFran Williams and Ella Powell-Davies unable to stave off the Bath attack.

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