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Liv Tchine shoots for goal

London Pulse and Loughborough Lightning seized the Super League initiative with double-header wins in Round 14 and 15.

As the league celebrated its Pride Round, championing the LGBTQ+ community in our sport, the players delivered high-octane action at both ends of the league table.

If your Bank Holiday weekends didn’t just involve netball – high time to catch up on all the storylines from a crucial double-header weekend.

Pulse push forward

London Pulse laid down an almighty marker for their rivals with back-to-back wins over title rivals Surrey Storm and Manchester Thunder.

Thumping third-quarter charges were the foundation of both victories.

Half-time is so often the moment that head coach Sam Bird chooses to use her squad depth to keep the opposition guessing and mix up on-court options.

Ellie Rattu’s interval introduction for Zara Everitt in the Storm game raised eyebrows as they held a slender 20-19 lead.

But Rattu made several crucial interventions as Pulse outscored Storm 20-11 in the third to seize the initiative and never let go.

They led Thunder by three at the midway point on Bank Holiday Monday and chose to stick rather than twist, a decision that paid off as they poured on 20 to Thunder’s nine in the third quarter.

Everitt put in a Player of the Match performance and it already looks like it’s going to need something special to prevent Pulse from claiming a first-ever title in June.

Something that isn’t: Lightning strike twice

The team looking most likely to produce that something special right now is Loughborough Lightning.

Vic Burgess’ side beat champions Thunder for the first time in eight attempts across four seasons, a statement 65-57 triumph that sent shockwaves around the league.

Alice Harvey threw a blanket over Lenize Potgeiter and Lois Pearson, aided and abetted by Fran Williams in one of the most imposing defensive partnerships in the land that looks set to take them all the way this season.

Just 48 hours after an emotional win, they had to raise their level again with a tricky trip to Saracens Mavericks but blasted into a 42-19 half-time lead to lock out a second victory.

Rhinos lock horns

Margins were finer on Friday night.

Leeds Rhinos claimed a crucial second win of the season, upturning the form book to down Strathclyde Sirens 49-45.

It was a nip and tuck, scrappy kind of game with both sides enjoying spells in the lead – until the fourth when Vicki Oyesola took over.

Rhinos restricted the visitors to just seven points in a highly-charged last stanza, Oyesola finishing with six turnovers and six deflections, the backbone of a much-needed win.

There was also little to separate the two sides in the other game on Friday night.

Mavericks got a four-point jump on Celtic Dragons in the second quarter and held on for a 59-54 triumph, a result that in conjunction with Sirens’ defeat strengthened their hold on sixth place.

Dragons again came so close but so far against Severn Stars, outscoring their hosts 17-13 in the third and only narrowly outshot in the fourth, 17-16, but still beaten 62-56.

Sirens snap streak

Despite a promising start to the season, things had not been going the way of Strathclyde Sirens in recent weeks.

The Scottish side had lost five on the spin, including a 49-45 Round 14 defeat to Leeds Rhinos, but put that right with a comprehensive 69-47 win over Team Bath at the Emirates Arena on Bank Holiday Monday.

On her 50th appearance, Beth Dix was once again at the heart of everything good for Sirens, posting a huge 45 feeds while Towera Vinkhumbo continued her fine form with an eye-watering 11 turnovers.

The result moves Sirens back above Bath into seventh, after Asha Francis’ side were unable to back up their 56-53 win over Celtic Dragons from Round 13.

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