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Netball Super League: Elle McDonald and Paige Reed pass the ball

Netball Super League: Elle McDonald and Paige Reed pass the ball

The halfway stage of the 2023 Netball Super League season came and went with five exciting matches across four days.

There was a first win for Leeds Rhinos, while high-flyers Manchester Thunder, Loughborough Lightning, and London Pulse all marched on.

Here are your key takeaways from Round 10.

Rhinos claim first victory 

It had been a long time coming, but Leeds Rhinos earned their first three points of the season with a 55-46 victory over Celtic Dragons on Sunday.

Rhinos had already passed up one opportunity to break their duck in Round 10, as they lost 61-54 to Team Bath Netball on Friday but bounced back on home soil to get their season started.

Goal keeper Vicki Oyesola continued her impressive form in the circle with her fourth Player of the Match award of the season against Dragons and looks to have the beginnings of a strong partnership with debutant defender Jemma Donoghue.

Oyesola produced seven interceptions, three deflections, and a huge nine turnovers – more than any other player in Round 10 of the Netball Super League.

“Finally, we stepped over that white line,” said head coach Liana Leota. “To get a win, especially at home, is nice but it now cements our foundation, and the only way is up.”

For Dragons, it is now a sixth defeat on the spin and while there have been plenty of positives for Dannii Titmuss-Morris’ side, they will be hoping to snap their unfortunate streak against Manchester Thunder on Good Friday.

Proud Mary keeps on scoring 

Mary Cholhok was once again the star as Loughborough Lightning cruised to a 61-41 victory over Severn Stars.

Cholhok netted 47 goals as she moved to 400 for the season, just six behind compatriot Proscovia Peace having played a game fewer.

The Ugandan boasts a 90.29% shot percentage across the season, with her laser-like accuracy once again on show as Lightning posted their seventh win of the season.

The visitors raced into a 16-5 lead that they never relinquished, and despite Stars winning the final quarter 16-12, the damage had already been done.

Defeat marked the second on the spin for Stars against a side currently in the top four, but player-head coach Jo Trip will have eyes on adding to their four wins against Team Bath next week. 

The kids are alright for Thunder 

O ye of little faith.

With the vast majority of last year’s invincible side departing Belle Vue, many people had written off Manchester Thunder this season.

And as their unbeaten streak came to an end against Surrey Storm in just the second week, there were plenty thinking they had been right to do so.

But Karen Greig’s side have been imperious since then, bouncing back from defeat with back-to-back victories against top four challengers London Pulse and Loughborough Lightning before powering to another five wins on the bounce.

Their latest three points came in a comfortable 64-51 win against Strathclyde Sirens, with plenty of youngsters impressing on court.

Harriet Jones, 18, scored five goals at goal attack alongside Ruby Parker, also 18, at goal shooter while 16-year-old Pippa Morgan impressed at goal keeper.

For Sirens, the form of Beth Dix continues to be a huge positive. Her 41 feeds against Thunder was the joint-third highest individual tally in a single game this season, beaten only by Nat Metcalf’s 50 against Team Bath Netball, Dix’s own 45 against Saracens Mavericks and matched by Metcalf against Sirens.

Kelly shines as Bath get back to winning ways 

It was a first win in five for Team Bath Netball, as they overcame Leeds Rhinos 61-54 in the latest instalment of Friday Night Netball.

Asha Francis’ new-look side have shown plenty of promise but have had a difficult first half of the season in terms of results, with Friday’s win just their second of the season.

But 2023 has not been without its positives, and none less so than 18-year-old Sophie Kelly.

The teenager has found court time hard to come by in recent weeks but returned with a bang on Friday, coming off the bench to notch 35 goals from goal attack to continue her electric start to life in the West Country.

It took just 10 minutes for Francis to call on Kelly to change the game for the Blue & Gold as Rhinos raced into a 14-7 lead.

The former Surrey Storm player was at the heart of the hosts’ fightback and certainly gave Francis plenty of reasons to put her back in the starting seven.

Tchine takes Pulse to second 

The round wrapped up with London Pulse powering to a 65-43 victory away at Saracens Mavericks to jump to second in the table.

Olivia Tchine was once again the main protagonist, scoring 42 goals at a rate of 95%, with Ellie Rattu providing some superb long feeds to find her fellow England Rose.

Sam Bird was once more able to use the full complement of substitutes, with five changes coming at once in the third quarter to reflect Pulse’s impressive depth.

They were not without impact, either Alicia Scholes and Ashleigh Dekker providing 12 and 16 feeds off the bench respectively while Lindsay Keable earned three turnovers and three deflections.

The return of Razia Quashie will be a major boost for Mavericks, who will look to bring an end to their four-match losing streak against Leeds Rhinos in two weeks’ time.

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