Severn Stars Vs Hertfordshire Mavericks
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Celtic Dragons' Kyra Jones (left) and Hertfordshire Mavericks' Joline Johansson

Johansson ruled out for season

Hertfordshire Mavericks are disappointed to report that midcourter Joline Johansson has suffered a confirmed ACL injury during training and will now miss the reminder of the 2016 Vitality Netball Superleague competition.

Everyone at the club is saddened by the news and we are providing the necessary support to Joline at this time.

Head Coach Sam Bird said “I’m desperately sad for Joline as she has given up so much to come and play for us. She is an inspirational player to work with on every level. In a relatively short time, Joline has had a huge impact on our club from players, volunteers and staff, to our fans, sponsors and indeed the league itself. Our entire Mavericks family wish her a solid recovery from this unfortunate injury.”

Sam continued: “Joline will be staying on with us and attending our training sessions and matches – her influence and knowledge remain an invaluable part of our campaign this year.  Both Joline and the entire team of players and coaches remain fully focused on our goal of first finishing in the best possible position for playoffs and ultimately winning the VNSL 2016.”

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Thunder remain unbeaten

One match that everyone had their eye on from Round 5 was the match up between the two unbeaten sides, Hertfordshire Mavericks and Manchester Thunder.

Thunder are now the only unbeaten side in the Vitality Netball Superleague so far as they overcame Mavericks 48-57.

Read on for the Thunder match report:

Manchester Thunder beat Hertfordshire Mavericks to keep their unbeaten record in the Vitality Netball Superleague intact.

It was a gritty performance against a stubborn Mavericks side, who were the better team for the opening quarter, but were ultimately over-run by a dogged and clinical Thunder.

Mavericks found themselves in a seven-goal lead in the first half, but Thunder kept the belief and it felt inevitable that as soon as they clawed themselves in front, they would not relinquish the lead.

This never-say-die attitude is something captain Sara Bayman says sets her side apart from the rest.

The England star said: “They started well but we made unforced errors in that first quarter.

“The most pleasing thing is that we never deviated from the game-plan we continued to try and do what we set out to, but do it better.

“That was the difference. When you’re seven or eight goals down, what’s the worst that can happen? It already has. That’s our mentality – let’s go out and play.

“No one believed we were going to lose it. There was still a composure about us and we were willing to put in three good quarters to make sure we did. Our response was too strong for what they had out there and they knew we wouldn’t lay down and die.”

Thunder completed the regular season unbeaten last year, only to fall at the semi-final stage to tonight’s opponent, and Bayman is convinced that experience will benefit the Black and Yellows this time around.

“We have to enjoy being undefeated. As soon as you play well, there’s a target on your back. Teams do up their game when they play us,” she claims, “and it’s almost a compliment as everyone hates winners – think about Manchester United in the 90s, everyone wanted to beat them. We just need to make sure we step up for the next match,” added the 31-year-old.

Thunder were slow out of the blocks and coupled with Mavericks’ powerful early waves of attack, the visiting side were left flapping at thin air as the Purple and Blacks’ game plan worked like a dream. Their attacks were fluid and controlled and their defensive unit – lead by Leila Guscoth – stifled an uncharacteristically quiet Thunder frontline.

Following an error-strewn opening period, skipper Bayman admitted that her side were forced to ‘start again’ at the start of the second quarter. A relatively ineffective Ellie Cardwell was brought off and Natalie Haythornthwaite came on at goal attack, with Helen Housby switching to goal shooter.

Coach Dan Ryan’s sole change in this match turned out to be a pivotal one, with young England shooter Haythornthwaite bringing variety and speed to Thunder’s attack.

She continued her burgeoning relationship with Helen Housby, seamlessly latching on to some rocket feeds from Bayman and Liana Leota.

The New Zealand wing attack really showed her credentials in the second half, flashing audacious passes in the blink of an eye to her shooters and carving up the Mavericks defence with textbook footwork and movement.

It was a game of high intensity throughout, with long periods of the match going goalless with a number of mini duels taking place in the mid -court, namely between Sam May and Leota.

Keeper Mally Kelly put in another strong performance and was assisted by Laura Malcolm and Jodie Gibson, who both popped up with timely interceptions.

Thunder are clearly now the team to beat.

On Monday they face a wounded Surrey Storm, who were beaten by a single goal in their Saturday match.

And the defending champions will be baying for their rival’s blood in front of the Sky Sports cameras, desperate to a second defeat on the bounce.

Thunder starting 7: GK Kelly, GD Gibson, WD Malcolm, C Bayman, WA Leota, GA Housby, GS Cardwell

Celtic Dragons' Kyra Jones (left) and Hertfordshire Mavericks' Joline Johansson

Mavericks ready for Round 2!

Hertfordshire Mavericks had a great Super Saturday as they overcame Celtic Dragons 60-39 in the opening round of Vitality Netball Superleague competition.

The post-match interviews and analysis from players and Head Coach Sam Bird were all singing from the same hymn sheet – great start, but there’s more to come!

The Hertfordshire-based outfit are hosting Loughborough Lightning tonight – a side who have been tipped to perform at the top end of the table this year. It’s definitely set to be a thriller for all netball fans.

Mavs’ local newspaper Welwyn and Hatfield Times have been supporting their franchise with a series of post-Super Saturday articles, so to get you in the mood for another Saturday of Vitality Netball Superleague action you can read more below:-

  • Post-match interview with Sam Bird here.
  • Post-match interview with Joline Johannson here.
  • Dragons v Mavericks match report here.

Don’t forget that if you don’t have tickets to the game, you can follow all the action live on Twitter – follow us or either side for more!