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Funmi Fadoju

Funmi Fadoju

Following last weekend’s electric 2023 Season Opener, Netball Super League sides return to their own heartlands for Round 2.

It promises to be another weekend of scintillating action with turnovers, feeds and goals aplenty as the NSL’s biggest stars settle into the campaign.

Here are five things to look out for in the second round of fixtures:

London Pulse vs Team Bath Netball: Play-off repeat

The last time London Pulse came up against Team Bath was in the 2022 third-place play-off.

Bath emerged 36-32 victors that day in a closely-fought battle, but a fresh season promises an even more competitive edge to this tussle.

Pulse will be looking to build on plenty of positives from their opening win against Leeds Rhinos, with Player of the Match Berri Neil posting a 100% shooting record while Lindsay Keable and Funmi Fadoju looked solid in defence.

But Team Bath will have a point to prove after losing 86-52 to a well-drilled Loughborough Lightning side.

Young stars Jayda Pechova and Sophie Kelly made their Blue and Gold debuts in defence and attack and showed how valuable they will be for the rest of the season.

You can catch all the action on Friday 17th February at 7:30 pm on Sky Sports Arena and Sky Sports YouTube.

Saracens Mavericks vs Leeds Rhinos: Bouncing back

After opening-round defeats, both sides will be looking for a clean slate in Round 2.

Leeds Rhinos fielded a younger side in Round 1 with injuries to new South African signings Nicola Smith and Elmere Van Der Berg.

But new recruit Ellie Bird was utilised well at goal shooter as Roses Elle McDonald and Paige Reed took advantage of her height in the circle – something to look forward to in Round 2.

Mavericks, who finished fifth last season, were encouraged by their attacking partnership of former Pulse star Kira Rothwell and Ine-Mari Venter as the latter netted an impressive 39 times in the season opener.

But after last weekend’s defeat, head coach Camilla Buchanan said she wanted to refine her side’s execution of their tactical game plan in preparation for Rhinos.

Highlights will be on the Netball Super League YouTube channel

Surrey Storm vs Manchester Thunder: Goal-fest forecast

With two games under their belt, table toppers Surrey Storm face their biggest challenge yet, the NSL champions.

Goal shooter Proscovia Peace, the league’s top scorer, will be looking to add to her tally of 93 and link up for a third time with new teammate Sophie Drakeford-Lewis.

Last time out in April, Thunder cruised to an 80-50 win over Storm but new recruit Layla Guscoth is certain to use her experience to bolster the home side’s defence.

New Thunder signing Lenize Potgieter shone on her debut to help her side leap to a 17-9 lead in the first quarter against Celtic Dragons.

Karen Greig’s side have not been beaten in the NSL since April 2021 and it will be some feat if Storm manage to hinder captain Nat Metcalf and Amy Carter’s dominance around the circle.

You can catch all the action on Saturday 18th February at 4pm on Sky Sports Arena and Sky Sports YouTube.

Loughborough Lightning vs Celtic Dragons: A tale of two NSL teams

Last year’s runners-up Loughborough Lightning lost just three matches in 2022 while the tenth-placed Celtic Dragons won the same figure.

But the Dragons did not go down against Thunder in their Round 1 fixture without a fight.

Debutant Gabby Sinclair worked well with Phillipa Yarranton in the second quarter to reduce Thunder’s deficit and they could prove just as troubling to Lightning on Saturday.

Lightning will prove threatening in attack and Mary Cholhok, who scored the season’s first goal and netted fifty times against Bath, is sure to prove menacing in the circle.

Victoria Burgess’ squad have their sights firmly set on regaining the NSL crown from Manchester Thunder and did not lose to any other team last season.

Highlights will be on the Netball Super League YouTube channel

Severn Stars vs Strathclyde Sirens: Trip’s new shooting Stars

New coach Jo Trip and her Severn Stars are finding their feet with a revitalised squad for 2023.

And after their gutsy 59-55 win against Mavericks in their opening fixture, the stars will be shooting even higher against Strathclyde Sirens.

Stars’ Sarah MacPhail comes up against her old club and will build on her defensive efforts in Round 1, working well with fellow new signing and captain Gabby Marshall at centre.

Sirens edged last year’s fixture 48-40 but missed 14 shots across the same game compared to Stars’ three.

Despite losing their first-round game against Surrey Storm 68-56, Niamh McCall showed off her flare from the edge of the circle, converting long shots time and time again.

But a series of unforced errors in the third quarter against Storm will be something head coach Lesley McDonald will want to stamp out this weekend.

You can catch all the action on Saturday 18th February at 7pm on Sky Sports Arena and Sky Sports YouTube.

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