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Vitality Netball Superleague 2022: Talking Points of the Season

Manchester Thunder earned their fourth title with victory in the Grand Final

The 2022 Vitality Netball Superleague season has come to an end, with Manchester Thunder crowned champions, defeating Loughborough Lightning 60-53 in the Grand Final. 

After 114 games of the highest quality, it is time to relive it all again with our final talking points of the season.

22 in 22 

Manchester Thunder didn’t just claim the VNSL trophy with victory in the final on Sunday, they also completed a perfect record, going 22 games unbeaten in the year.

It is only the second time that a team has won every game of the season, and the invincible Thunder did so en route to their fourth title.

Key to their victory was the attacking partnership between goal shooter Joyce Mvula and goal attack Eleanor Cardwell, who was voted Player’s Player and Fan’s Player of the Season.

The two were in devastating form as Thunder put on 88 points against Wasps, an all-time league record, with the North West outfit ending on 1509 goals for the season, 173 more than any other team.

Defensive rocks 

While Thunder couldn’t stop finding the net, three teams led the way in defence with youngsters London Pulse boasting the best record.

Pulse, who qualified for the play-offs for the first time in their history, conceded 1021 goals across the season, 12 fewer than next-best Strathclyde Sirens, who played two fewer games.

Sirens ended the season with seven wins to their name and the best goal difference of the bottom six teams, just pipping Wasps to the final place in the Fast5 Championship.

Wasps can take heart that they conceded 1068 goals, exactly 100 fewer than Manchester Thunder, as well as recording impressive wins over Team Bath and Leeds Rhinos.

New faces for next season 

Speaking of the two blue and yellow teams, both will be under new head coaches next season with Team Bath saying goodbye to stalwart Anna Stembridge after seven years with the club.

Stembridge guided Team Bath to fourth place in the table after a rocky mid-season due to Covid and injuries, before claiming a medal at the Grand Final, beating London Pulse in the third-place play-off.

Liana Leota is also leaving the West Country, as she heads to Yorkshire to take up the Rhinos’ director of netball role having spent the past three seasons at Severn Stars.

Leeds Rhinos finished in sixth place with nine wins this season as Tracey Robinson coached them to three victories out of three in one-goal thrillers.

Just beating them to fifth place in the table was Saracens Mavericks who took the battle for the play-offs down to the wire.

Next season their push for a return to the top four will be led by Camilla Buchanan with Superleague legend Tamsin Greenway joining as Head of Strategic Performance.

Plenty of positives for Dragons and Stars 

Celtic Dragons pushed every team close on their way to three victories and 10th place in the table, their three wins coming against Severn Stars, twice, and Leeds Rhinos at the Spring Showdown.

The Welsh side certainly brought the fun, led by new signing Shaquanda Greene-Noel, with the defender impressing on and off the court, contributing 48 interceptions, to make the top five for the season.

One behind her on that list was Severns StarsLucy Herdman who also made the top five for turnovers with 98.

Stars finished 11th in the table, also with three wins against Surrey Storm, Wasps and Sirens as well as pushing Bath close in their home West Country derby.

Nail-biters all the way 

You couldn’t take your eyes off the VNSL season from start to finish with thrilling games the order of every round.

Across the season, 34 games were decided by a margin of five points or fewer with eventual runners-up Loughborough Lightning part of five of them.

The only nail-biter they lost was to Manchester Thunder, the sole team to defeat them this season.

Loughborough also beat Surrey Storm by just three points with Storm part of eight narrow games on their way to seventh in the table.

Storm’s most impressive thriller came over Team Bath as Mikki Austin’s side travelled to the Team Bath Arena and came away with a 62-58 win as the league’s top scorer Proscovia Peace bagged 53 of her 853 goals for the season.

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