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The most memorable moments of Season Opener past

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06: Sophie Drakeford Lewis of Team Bath and Zara Everitt of London Pulse reach for the ball during the Vitality Netball Superleague 2022 Round 2 match between Team Bath and London Pulse at Resorts World Arena on February 06, 2022 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Chloe Knott/Getty Images for England Netball)

The 2023 Netball Super League Season Opener is just four months away as fans start to gear up for another rip-roaring season of world class netball.

The netball extravaganza takes place on 11th February the Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham where ten teams will take to the court, with Severn Stars on a bye week.

And in preparation for a memorable weekend of netball, here are some of the best moments of Season Opener past.

Pulse prove credentials against Bath (2022)

London Pulse began their impressive 2022 campaign with a 52-48 win over Team Bath Netball in the Season Opener at Birmingham NEC.

The young team started as they meant to go on with a well-battled performance that would be reversed in their final game of the season and third-place playoff.

Goal shooter Olivia Tchine clinched the win with a final goal after rookie Jayda Pechova claimed the court as her own with three interceptions in just five minutes on the court.

Rhinos rock on debut (2021)

Dan Ryan’s Rhinos made their debut on the NSL court in style with a 65-35 victory over Celtic Dragons at Production Park’s Studio 001.

The fledging franchise had one hand firmly on the match after several disruptions to Dragons, including an injury to Amy Clinton.

And Rhinos showed that they were not to be messed with as they went on to have a successful maiden season, finishing in the final play-off place.

Age just a number for Kelly (2021)

Emma Magee had been waiting years for her NSL debut but as she stepped onto the court for Surrey Storm at Production Park’s Studio 001, heartbreak soon struck.

The Northern Ireland player quickly tore several ligaments in her ankle and was forced to leave the court after only five minutes.

But as one door closed another opened and 16-year-old Sophie Kelly made her maiden NSL appearance in place of Magee.

Kelly netted 18 goals at Goal Attack, holding off a charging London Pulse and the teenage replacement went on to pick up Player of the Match as Storm edged a thrilling 42-40 victory.

Storm-ing back to victory (2020)

The 2020 Season Opener brought a raft of last minute drama as Surrey Storm edged out Celtic Dragons 44-43 in front of a record breaking crowd at Birmingham’s NEC.

It was a cat and mouse game from the start but with five minutes to go Storm had brought the score back to 41-40, only a single goal behind Dragons.

A Storm equaliser then brought the score level and Karyn Bailey caught a rebound to score and go one ahead.

Despite intense pressure from Dragons in the closing stages, it was Mikki Austin’s team who took the points.

Tuivaiti’s skills for Sirens (2019)

Strathclyde Sirens secured a comprehensive 56-38 victory over Surrey Storm in the NSL Season opener in 2019 at Birmingham NEC.

Storm struggled with both Sigi Burger and Shadine Van Der Merwe on international duty for South Africa and couldn’t get above a 67% shooting average.

But it was Cat Tuivati’s incredible performance in the circle that shone brightly as the Sirens shooter couldn’t seem to miss and was a menace with the ball.

The match was firmly a showcase of the Tuivaiti flair we all know so well.

Thunder strike back (2018)

Severn Stars narrowly missed out on a season opening win after Manchester Thunder stole a 48-47 victory in the final seconds at University of Worcester Arena.

The home side were leading by ten goals after the second quarter but a boost by Thunder replacements meant they were able to chip away at the Stars lead until the final minutes.

It was Amy Clinton who sealed the deal with a composed goal in the final seconds, giving Stars no time to respond.

Here are all five confirmed matches for Saturday 11thย February as theย netball excitement gets underway:

Team Bath v Loughborough Lightning

The 2022 second and third place finishers will get the season underway as they face each other at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham.

Asha Francisโ€™ team are fresh faced compared to the well-versed Lightning, making for an exciting match-up.

Surrey Storm v Strathclyde Sirens

Sirens will be the first team to encounter a brand-new Storm with new recruits including Layla Guscoth and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis.

The Scottish team were the last to reveal their full squad for the season with Ugandan international and fan favourite Stella Oyella ready to make a difference on court in attack.

Saracens Mavericks v Wasps Netball

Cat Tuivaiti and Camilla Buchanan will both be looking for a win from their first outings as head coaches.

Tuivaiti’s Wasps are one of the youngest sides in the league, but still have the experience of Rachel Dunn to lean on, while Buchanan’s Mavericks welcome back Jodie Gibson from injury and new recruit Kira Rothwell from Pulse.

Leeds Rhinos v London Pulse

Rhinos will face the 2022 fourth place finishers in their first match of the season as new head coach Liana Leota looks to make an impact.

London Pulseโ€™s Olivia Tchine wowed spectators during her senior Vitality Roses debut against Uganda this week and will certainly be a threat in February.

While Pulse look largely the same, it is a new look for Rhinos who have brought in Elle McDonald and Ellie Bird alongside South African duo Elmere van der Berg and Nicola Smith.

Manchester Thunder v Celtic Dragons

Manchester Thunder will face Celtic Dragons as they begin their campaign to become back-to-back Super League champions.

Dragons will face a different Thunder from last year with the likes of Eleanor Cardwell and Laura Malcolm departing the club over the summer, but South African shooter Lenize Potgieter has arrived in the North West.

Dragons have retained star goal keeper Shaquanda Greene-Noel but captain Nia Jones has departed to Rhinos.

Follow @NetballSL onโ€ฏTwitter,โ€ฏInstagram,โ€ฏTikTok,โ€ฏYouTubeโ€ฏ for the latest Netball Super League news.

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