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Amy Carter of Manchester Thunder taking on Celtic Dragons in a pre-season friendly.

Manchester Thunder v Celtic Dragons during SL NetballÕs Pre-Season Friendly match at Platt Lane Sports Complex, Platt Lane, Manchester. Picture by Stephen Gaunt/Touchlinepics.com +447904833202 16/01/2021

Preparations for the 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) season are well and truly underway after the latest round of pre-season friendlies.

Last weekend, six VNSL sides took part in three exciting pre-season matches across the country as they look to improve fitness levels ahead of the upcoming campaign.

Current champions Manchester Thunder faced off with Celtic Dragons on Saturday 16 January at the Platt Lane Sports Complex.

Both teams fielded strong sides with fans watching on YouTube getting a glimpse of Thunder’s younger players in the form of Berri Neil and Lois Pearson. Dragons, meanwhile, fielded a strong side which included new signing Annika Lee-Jones.

The fast-paced first period saw the hosts race away to a 15-9 lead at the end of the first 12 minutes which they quickly extended to 26-13 at the end of the second. Each team gave multiple players court time from the bench but Thunder continued to extend their lead, running out 65-45 winners.

You can re-watch the full game on Manchester Thunder’s official YouTube channel here.

On the same day, Severn Stars took on Team Bath Netball at the University of Worcester Arena. The two teams also played with five 12-minute intervals.

Fans watching from home got to see the likes of Nia Jones, Georgia Rowe and Lucy Herdman in Stars’ Starting VII. The visitors, meanwhile, brought a young squad that included Jess Shaw and Hannah Passmore.

An intense opening to the match saw Team Bath come away with a convincing 9-16 lead at the end of the first period. Stars came back in the ensuing 12 minutes but it was the away side who maintained their lead until midway through the fourth period.

The home side managed the sneak ahead by two goals before the final 12 minutes which they saw out impressively, extending their lead to six goals before the final whistle. You can re-watch the full 59-53 game on Severn Stars’ official YouTube channel here.

On Sunday afternoon, it was Surrey Storm’s turn to host Wasps Netball at Surrey Sports Park.

Mikki Austin started a strong side with the likes of Leah Middleton and Karyn Bailey in the starting line-up. Similarly, Mel Mansfield’s team had the likes of Rachel Dunn and Josie Huckle on court at the first whistle.

Bailey got the game underway with the first goal of the afternoon but the hosts were unable to maintain their lead, going behind 7-11 in a hard-fought first 12. Despite some impressive play from Storm, Wasps continued to improve throughout the game and managed to be 15 goals up at the end of the third period.

Leah Middleton impressed at the back but it was 2018 champions Wasps who took home the win, 41-59. You can watch the full 60 minutes on Surrey Storm’s official YouTube channel here.

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