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Bethan Goodwin shoots for Strathclyde Sirens

Bethan Goodwin shoots for Strathclyde Sirens. Image: Ben Lumley

A double helping of Netball Super League action saw fans treated to eight thrilling matches across Rounds 8 and 9.

Just one team emerged with two wins from two as the race at the top got even tighter, while the double header weekend signed off with a one-goal nailbiter.

Here’s what we learned from the weekend’s action.

Pulse at the double 

London Pulse had not played in two weeks as they took to the court against Celtic Dragons on Sunday but showed no signs of rustiness as they powered to a 52-37 win at the Copper Box Arena.

An end-to-end affair was locked at 27-25 at half-time before Pulse pulled away after the break to eventually earn a comfortable margin of victory.

Most notably, head coach Sam Bird made six changes at half-time, with just Player of the Match Zara Everitt staying on, but Pulse took no time to adjust as they accelerated their lead to reflect their enviable strength in depth that may pay dividends later on this season.

Victory against Dragons would mean little, though, if they could not follow it up with a win against top four rivals Loughborough Lightning.

Pulse were beaten three times by Vic Burgess’ side last term, including in the play-off semi-finals, but showed just how much they have grown since then with a 55-49 win on the road on Monday.

Much of Pulse’s success has been built on a mean defensive end, with 384 goals conceded the fewest in the league and Funmi Fadoju shining once more with eight turnovers and six deflections.

But their attack is as dangerous as any too; Player of the Match Chelsea Pitman produced a huge 35 feeds for Liv Tchine, who is as serene as anyone in front of goal.

Lightning strike down Storm 

Loughborough Lightning might have ended their double header weekend with defeat, but perhaps their most important result was the 73-64 win against leaders Surrey Storm.

Mikki Austin’s side have powered to the top of the table but suffered their second defeat at the hands of Lightning to prove the title race is more competitive than ever this year.

Storm have now lost twice, to Pulse and Lightning, who in turn were both beaten by a Manchester Thunder side that were beaten by Storm.

Mary Cholhok was once more the star in front of goal for Lightning, posting a huge 57 goals but Rhea Dixon also shone in the circle as she continues a strong start to life in purple.

There was also plenty to cheer off the court, as the netball family came together to raise funds for two cancer charities through a fundraiser driven by captain Nat Panagarry.

Mavericks earn much needed win 

It has not been the start to the season for Saracens Mavericks that Camilla Buchanan will have hoped for, but this weekend will have given her plenty of reasons to be cheerful.

Mavericks opened their weekend with a 66-62 win away at Team Bath Netball to earn their third three points of the season thanks to an impressive comeback effort.

The hosts led 60-57 at one point in the fourth quarter, but Buchanan’s side hauled themselves back into the lead to take an important victory.

A date with reigning champions Manchester Thunder then followed, and a 63-56 defeat saw Mavericks go toe-to-toe with a Thunder side that have lost just once this season.

Aliyah Zaranyika once again impressed at wing defence up against Roses captain Nat Metcalf, with her four turnovers only bettered by Player of the Match Shadine van der Merwe, while Britney Clarke, Georgia Lees, and Beth Ecuyer-Dale all impressed off the bench to demonstrate the depth of talent available to Buchanan.

Sirens sneak past Dragons 

Strathclyde Sirens have made a bit of a habit of close scorelines this season, but finally ended up on the right side of one with a 42-41 win at Celtic Dragons on Monday.

Sirens lost 49-48 to Team Bath in February before following it up with a 52-52 draw with Leeds Rhinos but finally edged a thriller against Dragons.

It is now two wins on the bounce for the Scottish outfit following their big 71-47 victory against Saracens Mavericks in Round 7, meaning they sit sixth.

For Dragons, two defeats does not tell the whole story of their weekend, with Hannah Leighton, Ella Powell-Davies, and the irrepressible Shaquanda Greene-Noel all impressing across two games that could easily have gone the other way.

Stars surpass last season’s total 

Severn Stars head coach Jo Trip said her side’s aim was to win 50% of their matches, and the Worcester side are just about matching that with four wins from their nine games so far this term.

Stars have been a surprise package for many this season, and Round 8’s 53-51 win over Leeds Rhinos was their fourth win of the season, meaning they have already earned more wins than last season in under half the games.

A close-run affair required shooter Sigi Burger to hold her nerve at the end to seal the win, but the South African’s impressive form this term meant there was little doubt she would convert.

Burger now sits second in the scoring charts behind only Proscovia Peace, and her return to form is symbolic of a Stars side that have brought the best out of a number of players this season.

A chastening 79-42 defeat to Surrey Storm two days later was perhaps a reminder that this is still a very new Stars line-up but there is no doubt they continue to be a tough task for any side, as they sit fifth in the table approaching the halfway stage.

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