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NSL 2023 pre-season kicks into gear

Manchester Thunder went undefeated in their preseason fixtures. Credit: @touchlinepics

Preparations for the 2023 Netball Super League season have been ramping up with a whole host of teams in pre-season action. 

Team Bath welcomed Saracens Mavericks and London Pulse earlier in December with the latter coming away with the tri-series trophy. 

This weekend saw Manchester Thunder take on Celtic Dragons and Strathclyde Sirens and the 2022 champions were made to work for their two victories. 

Pulse power to tri-series win 

Hosts Team Bath saw three of their new signings pull on blue and gold for the first time as Jayda Pechova, Bethan Dyke and Ali Wilshier all played for last season’s third-place finishers. 

The West Country outfit tasted defeat in their first match, going down 36-26 to London Pulse who had Olivia Tchine in the shooting circle alongside Ashleigh Dekker. 

Centre Jade Clarke got some valuable court time for her new side having joined from Leeds Rhinos in the summer and guided Pulse to a healthy 20-9 lead at half-time.

Bath responded in the second half, but it was not enough to stop Pulse securing their first victory in pre-season. 

Against Saracens Mavericks, Funmi Fadujo and Lindsay Keable resumed their partnership in the defensive circle and faced a stern test against their local rivals. 

Mavericks moved into an early lead of 7-2 in the first quarter before Pulse equalised late in the second quarter. 

The London side moved into a one-goal lead in the second half which they held on to as the buzzer sounded to earn a 40-39 win. 

Team Bath closed out the day with a 46-35 victory over Mavericks as Kadeen Corbin came up against sister Sasha following the former’s return to the Blue and Gold for the 2023 season. 

Kira Rothwell, Ellie Kelk and Christina Shaw all got their first minutes for Mavericks but it was Pulse who returned home with the Lyn Gunson Trophy. 

Severn Stars face Knights and Titans

Severn Stars welcomed men’s and mixed teams the Knights and Northern Titans to kick off their pre-season.

The Stars were dominant against the Titans with a 72-32 win, while they came up just short against the Knights with a 55-48 defeat.

New head coach Jo Trip returned to the court a year after retiring as she played alongside Lucy Herdman and Bekah Airey in the defensive circle.

Thunder strike twice against Dragons and Sirens 

While the temperatures plummeted around the UK, Manchester netball fans were treated to some red-hot netball as the reigning champions Thunder took on Celtic Dragons and Strathclyde Sirens. 

Against Sirens, the home side overturned a 12-10 deficit in the first quarter to lead by three points at the break before stretching their advantage to 10 points with the final quarter to play. 

Sirens remained determined as the clock ticked down, but Thunder held firm to begin their pre-season with a 52-41 win. 

It was Thunder who took the early lead against Celtic Dragons, scoring 12 goals to the Welsh side’s eight before extending their advantage to 14 points at half-time. 

Celtic Dragons won the third quarter 12-11 but could not stop Thunder from taking the win on their home court, Karen Greig’s side coming away 51-35 winners. 

Strathclyde Sirens took the spoils against the Dragons in a tense final quarter, pulling away after levelling the game at 32-32 to take the win 42-37 and open their pre-season account. 

Still to come in pre-season 

Surrey Storm took on local rivals London Pulse in a behind-closed-doors friendly this weekend and are set to face Sirens in front of fans at Surrey Sports Park this weekend. 

Leeds Rhinos and Loughborough Lightning will also be in action for the first time since the 2022 season came to an end as they square off in Huddersfield on Saturday, there will be plenty of new Rhinos looking to make an impression in front of their home fans. 

There will be more fixtures in the new year before all roads lead to Nottingham and the Season Opener on 11 February 2023. 

Buy tickets to NSL 2023 Season Opener

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