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Five Things To Look Out For: Round 3

Vitality Netball SuperLeague Opener 2020

The Vitality Netball Superleague roller-coaster continues this weekend with five enticing matches being spread across three days.

Whether its battling for top spot or securing that first win, all ten sides will be raring to go ahead of the third round of VNSL action.

With so much action to keep an eye on this weekend, we have selected five things to look out for in Round 3.

Strathclyde Sirens vs Surrey Storm – Fine margins

Kicking off the third round of the 2020 VNSL season is the meeting of Strathclyde Sirens and Surrey Storm at the Emirates Arena on Friday night.

This encounter takes on extra significance for the hosts who are looking to get their first win on the board after defeats to London Pulse and Loughborough Lightning respectively.

Both were incredibly tight affairs and Head Coach Lesley MacDonald can be happy with their performances despite the results. The match with Pulse was decided by just one goal and they took a 16-7 lead against Lightning before losing by six.

While plenty of changes were made behind the scenes during the off-season to improve the franchise on and off the court, nothing would be more pleasing than seeing out a win against two-time champions Storm in front of a buzzing home crowd.

Storm will, however, be hoping to spoil Sirens’ homecoming and are another side who know all too well about narrow margins. Mikki Austin’s side beat Celtic Dragons by one at Arena Birmingham before losing to London Pulse by one goal earlier this week.

Team Bath vs Wasps Netball – Tough test for pace-setters

After two rounds of the 2020 campaign, Team Bath currently sit top of the table and are one of only three sides to have navigated their opening fixtures without tasting defeat.

Anna Stembridge’s side saw off Loughborough Lightning at Season Opener before making the most of a Latanya Wilson sending off to dispatch of Celtic Dragons the following week, scoring over 70 goals in consecutive games.

The visit of Wasps, however, will provide a stern test to Bath’s stellar start especially after their 57-53 victory over Saracens Mavericks earlier this week. The Grand Finalists looked impressive in attack, in part due to home debutant Lexi Baker, and lost just one quarter.

Up against one of the two teams that finished above them last term, this will be a serious test of Bath’s credentials before encounters with last season’s bottom two.

Saracens Mavericks vs Severn Stars – Quashie vs Rowe

There will be plenty of key talking points when Saracens Mavericks welcome Severn Stars to Hertfordshire Sports Village on Saturday afternoon. One of which will be the battle between Razia Quashie and Georgia Rowe in the Stars shooting circle.

This match-up will see two of the division’s most in-form players go head-to-head with both putting up valuable performances for their franchises in their respective positions so far this season.

Vitality Rose defender Quashie is in the top two for both intercepts and turnovers in 2020. She has made 11 interceptions and 15 turnovers in her two appearances so far, only behind Latanya Wilson and Fran Williams.

Meanwhile, Welsh international Rowe is among the league’s highest scorers after two rounds. She has already netted 75 goals this season – only four players can currently boast more – and is behind just Sigi Burger and Mary Cholhok when it comes to shot success (93.75%).

With Rowe having the joint-highest shot percentage in Round 2, Quashie and her teammates will have to be on top form to keep the 25-year-old at bay. Similarly, the former Dragons shooter will have her work cut out against an in-form Quashie.

Manchester Thunder vs Loughborough Lightning – Lightning to strike again?

Loughborough Lightning travel to Belle Vue, home of Manchester Thunder, on Saturday evening in what has been a surprisingly happy hunting ground for Sara Bayman’s side in recent years.

Despite their opposition’s well-documented success of late – including winning the trophy last term – Lightning have always fared extremely well in Manchester. Indeed, the Leicestershire outfit have won away to Thunder every season since 2016.

Bayman was actually playing for Thunder the last time they beat Lightning at home – thenT Wright Robinson Sports College – four years ago. Since then, they have lost their last three games in this fixture at home.

Lightning have an outstanding record against their northern counterparts in general, winning five of their last six matches against them, and did the double over them last term with this fixture ending 60-65 to the visitors.

That result in February 2019 was Thunder’s first defeat of the season. Could Lightning inflict similar damage or will Karen Greig’s side put their poor record against Lightning behind them?

London Pulse vs Celtic Dragons – Fadoju on form

One of the stars of Round 2 was England U21 and London Pulse Funmi Fadoju. The defender produced a performance well beyond her years on Monday night as the 17-year-old helped her side produced a nail-biting victory over Surrey Storm.

Fadoju has been tipped as an emerging netball star for some time but truly announced herself to the VNSL in Surrey. The teenager was awarded Player of the Match despite only being introduced at the start of the third quarter.

The youngster only made her competition debut the previous week but made an instant impact for Sam Bird’s side, producing four interceptions and one deflection during her 30 minutes on court.

If Bird does opt to start Halimat Adio and Lindsay Keable for Monday’s televised fixture against Dragons, she knows she will be able to call upon a young player who will have an impact on proceedings if needed.

Round 3 takes place on Friday 6 March, Saturday 7 March and Monday 9 March. Times and venues can be found here.

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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