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Vitality Netball Superleague: Round 3 Preview

Saracens during the Vitality Super League match between Surrey Storm and Saracens Mavericks at Studio 001, Wakefield, England on 14th January 2021.

The third round of the 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) season begins on Sunday 21 February at 14:00.

Rounds 1/2 provided much excitement as ten pulsating games welcomed the VNSL back after just under a year away.

This week, 10 teams will face off over two days. All matches will be available to watch on Sky Sports platforms once again.

Surrey Storm vs Leeds Rhinos Netball | 12:00 | Sunday 21 February

Round 3’s opening fixtures sees Surrey Storm face Leeds Rhinos at Production Park Studio 001 on Sunday at 12:00.

Surrey Storm had mixed results in their first two encounters of the campaign. The two-time champions were praised for their performance in the final quarter against London Pulse last weekend.

Mikki Austin’s side won by two goals as Vitality Player of the Match Sophie Kelly starred. They came up against a strong Saracens Mavericks team a day later, however, and were unable to see out a result as they lost 40-54.

Their opposition this weekend – Leeds Rhinos Netball – made their much anticipated VNSL debut in the season’s curtain raiser. Dan Ryan’s side look impressive against Celtic Dragons as they secured a historic victory.

This result could not be replicated against Mavericks on Monday, losing 39-43. They also lost vice-captain Fi Toner, defender Tunain Keenan and goal shooter Donnell Wallam to injury. The latter fractured her radius bone while the other two have escaped serious injury.

Celtic Dragons vs Strathclyde Sirens | 16:00 | Sunday 21 February

Wales and Scotland will be represented in Yorkshire in the third game of this weekend as Celtic Dragons play Strathclyde Sirens.

Welsh outfit Dragons endured a difficult Rounds 1/2 and will hoping to avoid three successive defeats at the start of a season for the second year in a row. They lost to Rhinos and Team Bath last week.

Under the stewardship of Tania Hoffman, the Cardiff outfit will be looking for a win to kickstart their season and get in the top eight to qualify for Fast5 where they impressed so heavily in 2019.

Their Scottish counterparts Sirens missed out on the competition that year having finished bottom in 2019 but, both this season and last, have shown they have made great strides on the court as well as off it.

The Glasgow-based team won the first quarter against champions Manchester Thunder and took confidence into their meeting with Severn Stars, winning 36-30 with wing defence Taylor Cullen impressing.

Manchester Thunder vs London Pulse | 18:00 | Sunday 21 February

In the final game of the day, current champions Manchester Thunder face off with last season’s surprise package London Pulse.

Thunder have only played once so far but, aside from a poor first quarter, looked comfortable in their victory over Sirens last Friday. Opting to bring through Pathway products, it is no wonder Karen Greig’s settled squad hit the ground running.

Her team haven’t lost a regular season VNSL game since April 2019 and will be looking to keep that run going against a Pulse side they beat 42-71 in their last meeting in April 2019.

The London side will be the first to point out that they have improved immensely since that Copper Box Arena loss. Under Sam Bird, they made great strides in 2020 and won all three of their matches until the league’s cancellation.

Their only performance of the season so far came against Storm where a sloppy final quarter saw them get the season off on the wrong foot. Bird will be hoping they can put things right against Thunder.

Loughborough Lightning vs Saracens Mavericks | 20:00 | Sunday 21 February

Up next, Loughborough Lightning and Saracens Mavericks lock horns in front of the Sky Sports cameras at 20:00 on Sunday.

Lightning produced one of the performances of Rounds 1/2 with their close-fought victory over Wasps on Monday evening. Sara Bayman’s side narrowly beat their Midlands rivals 44-43 to conclude a fantastic weekend of action.

This will give them confidence having lost to a strong Team Bath Netball side in their first game. The club were boosted by the return of Beth Cobden and captain Natalie Panagarry – who was injured early in the 2020 campaign – and will need their star playing firing for this one.

Mavericks, meanwhile, are one of only two teams to currently boast an unbeaten record going into Round 3. Having to wait until Sunday to step on court, they wasted no time against Storm as they went 12 up at half-time in an eventual 14-goal win.

A number of young players including debutants Britney Clarke and Bella Baylis helped the following day as they battled hard to see out a win four-goal victory over Rhinos.

Celtic Dragons vs Surrey Storm | 17:15 | Monday 22 February

Monday night netball returns to your screens on 22 February and it all starts with Celtic Dragons’ clash with Surrey Storm at 17:15.

This match will be both team’s second of Round 3 with Dragons facing Sirens and Storm taking on Rhinos on Sunday.

These two sides are both founding members of the division and have met on numerous occasions over the years. They last played one another at Season Opener in 2020 in the closet game of the day. Storm were the victors in a highly-entertaining encounter which ended 43-44.

Wasps vs Team Bath Netball | 19:15 | Monday 22 February

To conclude another round of VNSL excitement, Wasps clash with Team Bath Netball under the Production Park Studio 001 lights at 19:15 on Monday night.

These two teams have won seven Superleague titles between them. Team Bath have lifted the trophy five times but Wasps – founded in 2017 – last had the honour when they won it 2018.

Wasps got their campaign off to a terrific start against Severn Stars but faltered against rivals Lightning, losing by just one goal. Mel Mansfield faces another strong test on Monday but – with the likes of Rachel Dunn and Sophia Candappa impressing so far – will have faith her side can put in a performance.

Team Bath Netball are currently table toppers having secured victories in their opening two games of the 2021 season. With Serena Guthrie returning, they looked unstoppable in their meetings with Dragons and Lightning.

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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