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Statistically Speaking: Vitality Netball Superleague Season Opener

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05: Action during the match between Wasps and Loughborough Lightning during the Vitality Netball Superleague Super 10 at Arena Birmingham on January 5, 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for England Netball)

The Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) will reignite once again as the 2020 season gets underway at Arena Birmingham this weekend.

VNSL’s Season Opener, the fastest-selling netball event in UK history, sees all ten franchises go head-to-head in a battle to start their campaign off with a victory.

This will be the 15th ‘opening weekend’ in the league’s long history. We take a look at the key stats from the previous editions:

Goals Galore:

Since 2014, opening Round has become a hub for attacking netball. Fans are treated to seeing some of the world’s greatest players and a large helping of goals.

The number of goals has increased exponentially since 2014 and peaked last season with a total of 516 goals across the five games. This followed hauls of 506 and 495 in the previous two years.

Even with the change from eight teams to ten in 2017, the goals-per-game average has also remained on an upward trajectory. Last year, an average of 51.6 goals-per-game trumped 2018’s average of 50.6.

In total, there have been 2,686 goals scored in the opening round since 2014 with an average of 447.66 goals seen every year.

Year Total Goals Goals-Per-Game
2014 388 48.5
2015 396 49.5
2016 385 48.12
2017* 495 49.5
2018 506 50.6
2019 516 51.6

*Move to ten teams.

Mavericks On Top:

Two-time champions Saracens Mavericks have scored the highest number of goals in Round 1 since 2014, and with the likes of Kadeen Corbin and George Fisher in their ranks, it could well be the same again this year.

Mavericks have found the net 328 times with the highest coming in their 60-39 victory over Celtic Dragons in 2016. They are followed by Team Bath (316) and Manchester Thunder (313), the only three sides to reach more than 300 goals in the same period.

The Hertfordshire outfit unsurprisingly have the highest goals-per-game average (54.66) of all six teams to have started the last six campaigns. It is Wasps Netball, however, who have the highest overall with an average of 61 goals-per-game since their introduction in 2017.

Franchise Total Goals* Goal Average*
Celtic Dragons 254 42.33
London Pulse 51 51
Loughborough Lightning 299 49.83
Manchester Thunder 313 52.16
Saracens Mavericks 328 54.66
Severn Stars 136 45.33
Strathclyde Sirens 157 52.33
Surrey Storm 290 48.33
Team Bath 316 52.66
Wasps Netball 183 61

*Since 2014

Fine Margins:

With dozens of Round 1 matches having taken place since the league’s inception since 2005, it is no surprise that there have some incredibly tight and contrastingly convincing victories.

Fans at Arena Birmingham last year saw the closest opening fixture in the last six years in the form of London Pulse’s narrow 51-49 win over Severn Stars.

They also witnessed the highest-scoring contest as Wasps and Loughborough Lightning produced a 114-goal thriller with the former running out 72-42 winners. This tally was matched back in 2015 when Yorkshire Jets beat Lightning 70-44.

Lightning swiftly got their revenge, however, when they defeated their Yorkshire counterparts 65-34 – a margin of 31 goals – in the biggest victory of the last six years.

Winning Start:

Team Bath connivingly have the best opening weekend record in since 2014 having won their last seven matches. The five-time champions last lost in 2012 to eventual champions Manchester Thunder.

Wasps have won all three opening matches since their inception while London Pulse won their first-ever competitive match last year.

Coming out of the blocks with a victory is desirable but not essential for sides wishing to lift the trophy at the end of the campaign.

Only five of the last nine champions got their season underway with a victory with Mavericks (2011), Thunder (2014) and Storm (2015, 2016) bouncing back from an opening defeat to secure silverware.

The last three winners of the competition – Wasps and Thunder – have, however, made a statement in the opening round. Last season, Thunder defeated Mavericks by nine goals on their way to Grand Final success.

With Wasps and Thunder meeting on Saturday evening, points will be worth more than ever before.

Make sure you’re following @NetballSL on Twitter and Instagram. You can also sign up for the VNSL Newsletter to stay up to date with news, tickets and transfers!

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