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Netball Super League Season Opener

Round 1 down, 19 more to go.

The 2023 Netball Super League got underway with a bang this weekend as fans got a first look at their favourite teams in action for the year.

Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena set the scene for all five Round 1 matches, with some high-scoring games and new faces taking to the court.

Loughborough soar to new heights

It was a lightning start from Loughborough as they soared to an 86-52 victory over Team Bath Netball in the first match of the season.

Having retained the majority of their 2022 team, Loughborough slipped right back into their usual ferocious form against a new-look Team Bath that fought to keep up with the pace.

Emma Thacker was a whizz in the circle and catapulted herself into the NSL limelight once more as Loughborough Lightning scored a staggering 86 goals – just two shy of Manchester Thunder’s best last season.

Whilst several vital interceptions on the edge of the circle from Nat Panagarry ensured the captain received a well-deserved Player of the Match title.

Imogen Allison was back at it again with some fast footwork keeping the ball in play for Bath during the final quarter, but the order was ultimately too tall for Asha Francis’ young side.

Sirens rattle an exciting new Surrey Storm

There has been a lot of talk about the new and exciting Surrey Storm team following a thrilling signing window period.

And Mikki Austin’s team held their own against a charging Strathclyde Sirens with a 68-56 win.

“It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t perfect”, stated Austin, after Sirens stormed back to within six goals of Storm in the second quarter.

Towera Vinkhumbo put on an assertive performance for her side against a strong showing from Storm as debutant Sophie Drakeford-Lewis – replete with her new duck egg blue hair ribbon – paired well with Proscovia Peace in the shooting circle.

With Amy Flanagan and Layla Guscoth linking up well on the other side of the court, Sirens did well to battle back against a brave new Storm side, with Beth Dix orchestrating the midcourt.

Severn Stars shake things up

In one of the most exciting showings of Round 1, Severn Stars got their 2023 campaign off to a roaring start with a 59-55 victory over Saracens Mavericks.

Stars, who finished bottom of the NSL last season, announced themselves as a possible dark horse of the season with a thrilling win.

Player-coach Jo Trip was named Player of the Match for her first game back in the NSL.

The defender shone brightly as her squad bounced back from a Mavericks-dominated first quarter and clinched a narrow 29-28 lead ahead of half-time.

Ine-Mari Venter worked hard for Camilla Buchanan’s side, closing the deficit in the final quarter, but a rallying Stars could not be stopped in a hotly contested thriller.

Berri Neil shines for Pulse

There were no dramas for Pulse who comfortably beat a Leeds Rhinos team that showed potential.

Berri Neill was the breakaway star of the 64-48 win with a stellar 100% shooting performance.

Neil made an instant impact on the court and was awarded Player of the Match as she ran circles around the Rhinos defence.

Halimat Adio also returned for Pulse following a long-term injury while Elle McDonald made her Rhinos debut as captain and ran the show for the Yorkshire side, linking up well with Paige Reed and Ellie Bird in the circle.

Rhinos initially led in the first quarter and showed their strengths on court as Maggie Birkenshaw stepped up to take the reins with Liana Leota returning to New Zealand on compassionate grounds before Pulse powered back to take a comfortable victory.

Thunder start their title defence on the right foot

New faces, same old Thunder.

Taylor McKevitt was Player of the Match in her first NSL game for Manchester Thunder as the side roared to a 68-42 victory over Celtic Dragons.

With one interception, one deflection and two turnovers, McKevitt was a rocket on court in a new look team for the defending champions.

Celtic Dragons flew out of the blocks in the opening quarter with Annabel Roddy making a vital interception to keep her team in the game and close the deficit.

And as usual, Shaquanda Greene-Noel was a standout performer, etching a total of eight deflections before the end of the game.

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