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Mary Cholhok of Loughborough Lightning and the Vitlaity Netball Superleague (VNSL).

The Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) 2020 season continues this weekend in what is already proving to be one of the most exciting campaigns to date.

With so much action to keep an eye on this weekend, we have selected five things to look out for in Round 4.

Severn Stars vs Wasps Netball: Away form a concern for Wasps?

Kick-starting Round 4 is the meeting between Severn Stars and Wasps Netball on Saturday evening. Crucially, though, this game takes place in Worcester as opposed to Coventry.

Both sides have endured difficult starts to the season having won just one match between them so far. Two-time winners Wasps Netball will want to push on after what has been a difficult spell of fixtures while Stars will be desperate to escape the bottom two.

Wasps’ two defeats so far this season have interestingly come away from home. In fact, their last five defeats have come away from the Ricoh Arena. With their Midlands home regarded as a fortress, Mel Mansfield will have plans to tighten up on the road.

Stars, meanwhile, have also played teams that look destined to challenge for the top four positions this term. They have played Mavericks twice and champions Thunder thus far.

Star shooter Georgia Rowe said: “We’ve had a tough first couple of games but have shown that we can perform and can perform really well when we focus and keep communicating.

“We are going into the game against Wasps with the intent of taking the three points and I have every confidence in us to do that.”

Surrey Storm vs Manchester Thunder: Selection headache for Austin

Surrey Storm’s start to the 2020 season has stalled as of late. After a narrow, one-goal victory over Celtic Dragons on the opening day, the franchise has lost their ensuing two matches against London Pulse and Strathclyde Sirens.

Head Coach Mikki Austin pinpointed her team’s slow starts as a major issue recently – having failed to win an opening quarter in 2020 – but can be confident in the defenders she has at her disposal.

Storm certainly have the individuals to change the defensive line-up when needed. This was exemplified when Lorraine Kowalewska made ten turnovers – the most of any Storm player in a single game this season – on her first start of the season last weekend.

Katy Hughes, Leah Middleton and Niamh Cooper are also in the squad which might explain why only two other franchises have conceded fewer goals than the Surrey outfit so far this season.

With champions Manchester Thunder coming to town on Saturday evening, who will we see an attempt to stifle the likes of Joyce Mvula and Eleanor Cardwell in Storm’s defensive circle?

Loughborough Lightning vs Saracens Mavericks: Cholhok x Fisher

One of the major reasons behind the Superleague’s goal-crazy campaign is the high number of talented shooters inside of the shooting circles. Two of the divisions finest go head-to-head on Monday night.

Those in attendance at the Sir David Wallace Arena and those watching on Sky Sports will witness Loughborough Lightning’s Mary Cholhok and Saracens Mavericks’ George Fisher battle it out to give their side the advantage.

Both goal shooters are comfortably in the top five for goals scored and shot success for players with a minimum of ten goals. Cholhok has scored 146 – the most in the league – compared to Fisher’s 131 and both have well over 90% shot accuracy in their first three games.

These two teams have ambitions of featuring in the VNSL’s semi-finals and the form of these two players will be imperative in achieving their aim, starting this weekend.

Celtic Dragons vs Strathclyde Sirens: Goodwin on the up

Strathclyde Sirens won their first match of the season last week courtesy of a commanding 61-53 victory over Surrey Storm upon their return to the Emirates Arena.

The Scottish side had lost their two previous encounters – to London Pulse and Loughborough Lightning respectively – but capitalised on another Storm slow start to win by eight goals on home turf.

Aside from the three points, Lesley MacDonald would have been appeased by the performances of her attacking players with Lynsey Gallagher winning Player of the Match and Bethan Goodwin improving every game.

Sirens had a 67% shooting accuracy in their first match but shot 88% last weekend. After two narrow losses, this improvement in the circle evidently gave the hosts the edge against Surrey Storm.

Goodwin, in particular, has been making headlines for her improved performances. The youngster shot 70% at Season Opener, 81% in Round 2 and shot an impressive 91% in her last appearance.

Team Bath vs London Pulse: Unbeaten record to be lost

Two of the three teams with unbeaten records go head-to-head at the Team Bath Arena on Monday night. One of these unbeaten records will be lost in Round 4, however, as Team Bath host London Pulse.

Team Bath and Pulse currently occupy the top two spots in the VNSL having both won three of their first three matches this season. The winner will likely sit on top spot at the end of Round 4 to their superior goal difference to Thunder.

There will be plenty of key battles across the court in Bath with some of the league’s early pace-setters – whether that’s Commane or Burger, Allison or Thomas, Artman or Adio – all on court.

Pulse spoke in the week of having ambitions to make top four while Bath are making good on their aim of a sixth VNSL title. Whatever the result, both sides will be content with their start to the campaign.

Round 4 takes place on Saturday 14 March and Monday 16 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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