VNSL 2021: Round 3 – Sunday wrap

THERE were a number of blowout games on Sunday during Round 3 of the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) season as Loughborough Lightning produced one of the biggest upsets of the season so far while Manchester Thunder also got the job done to continue their unbeaten start to the season.

Surrey Storm (44) defeated by Leeds Rhinos (50)

Player of the match: Sienna Rushton

Without the services of Donnell Wallam under the post and Tuaine Keenan in defence, Leeds Rhinos still found a way to win coming back from three quarter time to topple the Storm. Boasting a new shooting combination the Rhinos took some time to adjust but once they found their groove the partnership of Sienna Rushton and Rhea Dixon proved to be strong. Surrey exploited their opponents using their sure-fire connections down the court throughout the second term stretching out to a four goal lead as both sides aimed to make the most of their chances on the turnover front. A last minute goal from the Rhinos heading into the main change chopped the margin back to two goals. Gaining momentum in the dying seconds of the half the Rhinos maintained that pressure and intensity in the third as Dan Ryan tinkered with his line-up with the likes of Rosie Harris injected into defence and Amelia Hall plying her trade in wing attack to provide an element of difference to the side.

The defensive effort from Vicki Oyesola and Paige Kindred was profound in the third term as they limited Storm to seven goals however Karyn Bailey’s overall efforts under the post did not go unnoticed nailing 32 goals for the match. A strong finish to the game allowed Leeds to run out with the win as they piled on 15 goals to 12 with the likes of Rushton collecting 34 goals and Dixon posting 16. Leah Middleton worked tirelessly for the Storm in defence picking up two intercepts, six deflections and four rebounds however she was costly on the penalty front with 16 to her name.

Celtic Dragons (35) defeated by Strathclyde Sirens (52)

Player of the match: Bethan Goodwin

Strathclyde Sirens made light work of the Dragons leading from start to finish with their classy ball movement on show throughout the clash. However the victory was marred by an injury to Lynsey Gallagher in the opening term but that did not stop the side from grinding out the game with Bethan Goodwin starring under the post. The first quarter of play was close as the two sides settled into the game but in the end it was the Sirens that outmuscled their opponents to open up a three goal lead. The new defensive combination of Leila Thomas and Abby Tyrrell worked well for the Dragons with the latter picking up four intercepts however Goodwin and Emma Barrie dictated the play in the goal circle with their accuracy to post, movement and strong holds. Taylor Cullen was once again a wall in defence for Strathclyde shutting down the attacking forays sparked by Laura Rudland as Strathclyde flexed their muscles.

The Sirens pressed in every quarter to slowly extend the lead only allowing the Dragons to add 14 goals to their tally in the second half. Although Celtic Dragons goal shooter Amy Clinton was a force to be reckoned with thanks to her deadeye accuracy she did not receive enough support from the likes of Jamaican recruit Rebekah Robinson to worry the scoreboard. Towera Vinkhumbo and Emily Nicholl worked in overdrive to nullify the attacking options of the Dragons’ shooters with the pair staying away from the whistle and building pressure. Goodwin earned player of the match honours thanks to her 21 goals and accuracy, only missing one shot for the match while Barrie was rock solid thanks to her 30 goals.

Manchester Thunder (57) defeated London Pulse (30)

Player of the match: Emma Dovey

Manchester made their intentions clear from the first whistle bursting out the blocks and piling on the goals with their damaging combination of Joyce Mvula and Eleanor Cardwell wasting no time to inflict pain. The Thunder skipped out to a dominant start notching up eight goals straight while keeping the Pulse goalless for the opening minutes. Manchester did not waver throughout the contest as they worked in overdrive to pick apart the Pulse’s defence as Mvula and Cardwell did not falter under the post. Lindsay Keable and Halimat Adio had no answers for the Thunder’s seamless transition and pinpoint passing inside the attacking third as the half time score reflected a 20 goal deficit in favour of the Pulse. Sitting pretty at half time the Thunder rung in the changes as veteran Caroline O’Hanlon entered the game alongside youngster Lois Pearson in goal attack.

London failed to reach double figures in any quarter credit to the pressure Manchester were mounting not only in the defensive third but across the court to stop the ball from entering the circle. Emma Dovey and Kerry Almond were real threats down back for the winners plying their trade to nullify the likes of Lefebre Rademan and Kira Rothwell while Sigi Burger struggled to have her normal influence under the post. The 27-goal win keeps Thunder undefeated from their two outings in 2021 as they once again look to prove their dominance in the VNSL.

Loughborough Lightning (60) defeated Saracens Mavericks (35)

Player of the match: Nat Panagarry

Lightning stunned Saracens Mavericks with a romping 25-goal win to claim their second for the season and hand the Mavericks their first loss of the year. Loughborough had an answer for everything the Mavericks threw at them, not only negating it with great ease but so too piling on their own pain to keep the Mavs at bay. Lightning skipped out to a lead early and did not look back with a commanding five goal lead at quarter time before rubbing further salt into the wounds in the second term to establish a nine goal lead. The inclusion of Ella Clark into the Lightning side worked wonders with the goaler able to impose herself both on the scoreboard and across the court in general with her attacking nous.

Heading into three quarter time with a 14-goal buffer the Lightning made sure to put the nail in the coffin sinking 15 goals to six to showcase their ability to completely nullify their opposition. Nat Panagarry was a workhorse through the middle with her impressive timing and quick hands doing all the damage with Beth Cobden putting in the hard yards in wing defence. Mary Cholhok starred under the post notching up 40 goals and only missing two in the process while Clark finished with six. Alice Harvey impressed in defence for Lightning with her five intercepts and three deflections while Razia Quashie was strong for the Mavs collecting six intercepts and four deflections. The Mavericks simply could not generate enough scoring power with Britney Pringle-Clark leading the way with 22 goals as Kadeen Corbin struggled to find her rhythm.

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