The 2017 Vitality Netball Superleague burst into life on Saturday in front of 6,500 fans as Super Ten hit the Genting Arena in Birmingham.
522 goals, ten hours of action and one amazing event, Super Ten delivered with incredible drama across all five matches.
The day started at 12pm when Loughborough Lightning faced Severn Stars. Amazing defence from Lightning saw them take an early grip on proceedings with Jo Trip and Vicki Oyesola both impressing.
A 30-21 lead at half-time was reduced to 39-34 with fifteen minutes to go as Stars hit back through some excellent shooting from England Roses attacker Eleanor Cardwell.
With it all to play for in Q4, Lightning came out fighting and strong mid-court pressure forced turnover ball for the team in East Midlands. With Peace Proscovia on top form in the shooting circle, they were able to see out a 56-44 success.
A contender for team performance of the day followed in match two with Sirens absolutely dominating the Celtic Dragons in an impressive 73-36 victory.
The opening quarter was extremely closely fought with the Welsh side responding well to early Sirens scores to stay within one goal.
That was all to change in the second quarter as Sirens upped the tempo and with Carla Borrego in fine shooting form, the lead rapidly grew.
A 34-18 half-time lead increased to 53-31 at the end of the third. Northern Irish international Caroline O’Hanlon picked up the Player of the Match after majestic, mid-court display as the Sirens returned to Glasgow with three points in the bag.
Next up on court Team Northumbria were hoping to halt the Wasps Netball charge. An attacking masterclass meant that the Superleague debutants were able to make it two wins from two at the start of this season.
The mix of ex-England star Rachel Dunn and up-and-coming superstar George Fisher in the circle was hugely impressive. The former was shooting at 100% from GA as the score reached 34-25 at the half-time interval.
In the third quarter, one of Northumbria’s most imposing players was lost to injury as Katarina Cooper fell to the court clutching her knee.
The team from the north-east failed to regain any momentum and with current Roses star Natalie Haythornthwaite in sparkling form at WA, a final score of 70-46 did not flatter Wasps.
A mouth-watering repeat of the 2016 Grand Final was next on court and the clash between Surrey Storm and Manchester Thunder certainly delivered.
The opening quarter was nip and tuck throughout until Mikki Austin collided with a team mate with a couple minutes left on the clock. The enforced change gave Thunder the upper hand and they took advantage to move into an early 15-12 lead.
An engrossed crowd couldn’t take their eye off the action as the lead continued to change hands, a late surge before the break saw Megan Craig push Storm 30-26 ahead.
Thunder’s defence upped the intensity in Q3 and within two minutes the scores were back level. Late pressure from Katy Holland and Naida Hutchinson forced Liana Leota to drift long with a feed and Storm capitalised to take a narrow 41-39 advantage.
With the game in the balance an incredible run of nine goals and only one reply early in the fourth quarter, took Storm into a clear advantage that would ultimately prove too tough to chase down. As they saw out a 58-48 victory.
The crowd may have had a long day but their energy levels certainly didn’t drop for the final game of the day and in turn Hertfordshire Mavericks and Team Bath responded in kind.
It was a physical, brutal and feisty affair which saw the captain’s spoken to as early as the first quarter in order to restore discipline to proceedings.
The nature of the game coupled with an incredibly tight score line, meant that nobody was leaving the Genting Arena early. A 12-10 Bath lead was overturned to 22-21 Mavericks at half-time.
A late held ball against the team in purple and black allowed Bath to sneak 33-32 ahead with fifteen minutes to go.
Composure was required and Bath delivered. Mia Ritchie stole in with a priceless intercept early in the final quarter and they never looked back.
A scrappy final few minutes saw scoring opportunities become increasingly scarce but that did not matter to those from the South-West as they celebrated a 49-42 win.
Super Ten Results
Loughborough Lightning 56-44 Severn Stars
Sirens 73-36 Celtic Dragons
Team Northumbria 46-70 Wasps Netball
Surrey Storm 58-48 Manchester Thunder
Hertfordshire Mavericks 42-49 Team Bath