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Leeds Rhinos vs Celtic DragonsVNSL Spring Showdown

Clare Jones of Celtic Dragons during the match between Leeds Rhinos and Celtic Dragons. Image: Ben Lumley

The Spring Showdown gave us ten great games of netball – but what have we learned from a huge weekend on the court?

With two rounds of Vitality Netball Superleague being played this weekend, we’ve seen plenty of twists and turns in the table heading into the final few rounds.

The play-off race is still as hot as ever, while the fight for finishing in the top eight has intensified. Here’s what to take away from Rounds 13 & 14.

Pulse bounce back 

London Pulse had been looking good in third place for much of the season, before back-to-back defeats to Loughborough Lightning and Team Bath seemed to throw their play-off hopes off course.

However, Pulse hit back with two wins at the Spring Showdown, overcoming Wasps 44-38 on Saturday before an impressive 53-46 victory over Saracens Mavericks on Sunday.

Olivia Tchine was in fine form with 80 goals across the two games, while Alicia Scholes starred against Mavericks with 16 feeds as Pulse re-solidified their top-four credentials.

The Copper Box side now sit three points ahead of Mavericks, and six points ahead of fifth-placed Team Bath with six games to play as they look to qualify for the Play-Offs for the first time.  

Dragons get deserved win 

Celtic Dragons had been knocking on the door for their first win since Round 6, with strong performances but narrow defeats against Thunder, Mavericks, and Storm in recent weeks.

Round 13 finally saw Dragons get the victory their performances warranted with a 55-51 win over Leeds Rhinos.

Dragons produced a big final quarter, scoring 16 goals to Rhinos’ 11, to earn a second win of the season.

Georgia Rowe scored 40 goals while captain Nia Jones starred at centre to be named Gilbert Player of the Match.

Shaquanda Greene-Noel also impressed at goal keeper, producing 11 turnovers, as the Dragons defence stood strong throughout.

Dragons then ran second-placed Loughborough Lightning close, losing 56-52 on Sunday, and prepare to face London Pulse on Monday Night Netball, live on Sky Sports, as they look to build on a successful weekend.

Stars secure vital victory 

There was an important win for Severn Stars too, as they overcame Wasps 56-47 in the final game of the Spring Showdown.

It was Stars’ first win since their Round 1 victory over Surrey Storm, with Bethan Dyke starring from centre.

Dyke produced a match-best 24 feeds while Cathrine Tuivaiti shot 25 goals, as Stars kept pace with Dragons and closed the gap to Wasps to just three points.

Stars established a two-point lead in the first quarter and never relinquished their lead as they won three of the four quarters, drawing the other.

Stars now travel to Team Bath on Saturday where they will be aiming to make it two wins on the bounce.

Thunder and Lightning march on

It was another successful weekend for top two Manchester Thunder and Loughborough Lightning, as both sides won two out of two at the Spring Showdown.

Thunder are now on the verge of qualifying for the play-offs thanks to a 73-51 win against Strathclyde Sirens, backed-up by an 80-50 victory over Surrey Storm.

The 80 points racked up against Storm was a record high total with Eleanor Cardwell scoring 47 goals and Joyce Mvula adding 30 from the bench.

Lightning did their best to keep pace with two wins of their own in Birmingham.

Loughborough first edged Storm 57-54 before narrowly beating Dragons 56-52, to remain just three points behind Thunder at the top of the table.

Lightning were without Mary Cholhok and Nat Pangarry but managed to come out of the weekend with a vital six points, replacement Ella Clark netting 73 goals across the weekend in Cholhok’s absence.

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