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Gallagher of Strathclyde Sirens in the VNSL.

Vitality Netball SuperLeague Opener 2020

After an enthralling Season Opener at Arena Birmingham last weekend, the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) gets going all over again in Round 2.

Over two days, five VNSL fixtures will take place with ten teams either looking to continue their momentum or get their season on track.

With so much action to keep an eye on this weekend, we have selected five things to look out for in Round 2.

Severn Stars vs Manchester Thunder – Home debuts 

The round begins at the home of Severn Stars as the host’s welcome champions Manchester Thunder to the Worcester Arena on Saturday evening.

Both sides come off the back of differing results at Season Opener with Stars losing to Saracens Mavericks and Manchester Thunder seeing off rivals Wasps Netball.

Stars lost 70-49 to Mavericks but, with four new signings in the starting line-up, head coach Melissa Bessell will be hoping her new-look side continues to gel in the coming weeks.

Fans will welcome Liana Leota (facing her 2019 side), Nia Jones, Ama Agbeze, Bethan Dyke and more to the arena this weekend. Dyke, who joined from Celtic Dragons in the transfer window, said:

“I’m really looking forward to meeting the Severn Stars fans and playing at our for the first time against Thunder. I can’t wait to meet all the fans properly.”

Loughborough Lightning vs Strathclyde Sirens – Sirens to shake up attack?

At the same time as Stars’ clash with Thunder, Loughborough Lightning and Strathclyde Sirens will also be battling it out at the Sir David Wallace Arena.

These two teams will be looking to bounce back from defeats in the first round. The visitors lost late on in a 104-goal thriller with London Pulse while their Midlands counterparts failed to keep up with Team Bath, losing 72-58.

There will both be areas that both teams can improve upon with one, notably for Sirens, being proficiency in the shooting circle. Despite having the promising Bethan Goodwin and Lynsey Gallagher in attack, the Scottish side only had a shooting accuracy of 67% last week.

New head coach Lesley MacDonald will be delighted that her team are creating chances for the shooters but she will require this duo to be more lethal against a Lightning side with something to prove.

MacDonald does have starlet Emma Barrie, who sat out of their opening fixture, to bring into the side. The teenager looked impressive at the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup and could be a long term answer to this particular predicament if things continue.

Celtic Dragons vs Team Bath – Wilson vs Commane

In Saturday’s final game, Celtic Dragons take on Team Bath in Cardiff in what looks to be a highly-enticing encounter for a number of reasons. One of which is the battle between Latanya Wilson and Kim Commane.

Wilson heavily impressed on her full VNSL debut for Dragons against Surrey Storm. The Jamaican’s athleticism, reading of the game and flair won her the Player of the Match award. She made 10 interceptions during her hour on court, more than any other player in Round 1.

The 19-year-old will have her work cut out this weekend, however, as she goes up against a Bath side that looked rampant in front of the net against Lightning.

Key to their success was Player of the Match Kim Commane who shot an exceptional 55 goals in her first outing of the season. The Australian goal shooter looked unstoppable at times and, with Ella Clark and Mary Cholhok at the other end, knew that pressure was on her to get the goals.

The battle between these two athletes might just be the key contest when their sides meet in the Welsh capital.

Surrey Storm vs London Pulse – Pulse hope to avoid a repeat of 2019

On Monday, Surrey Storm welcome London Pulse to what will be a sold-out Surrey Sports Park on Monday night.

Both sides come into this encounter full of confidence after victories at Arena Birmingham last weekend against Strathclyde Sirens and Celtic Dragons.

While keeping this run going will be on the agenda of the two franchises, this fixture might take on extra significance for Pulse who will be hoping to avoid a repeat of their start to the 2019 campaign.

The London outfit also started their season off with a victory last term – against Severn Stars – but lost their next eight encounters. With another year of experience under their belt, the team in pink will be hoping that they can show a new level of consistency that was lacking last year.

Wasps Netball vs Saracens Mavericks – Starting strong

After 15 minutes in each of Wasps Netball and Saracens Mavericks’ first matches of the 2020 VNSL season, the two sides found themselves behind.

Both franchises lamented their sloppy first quarters with Mavericks captain Sasha Corbin admitting that the players got a stern talking to during the first break while Wasps head coach Mel Mansfield spoke of her disappointment after the game.

Wasps went onto draw two of the ensuing quarters but going six goals behind the champions proved too much to recover from. Mavericks, meanwhile, recovered brilliantly to secure the points over Severn Stars.

The start these two make to the game could once again prove crucial with both sides possessing enough quality in attack and defence to make it difficult for their opposition to claw back from any possible deficit.

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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