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Netball Super League Round 16: Teams clinch top four finishes

The top four spots of the 2023 Netball Super League are secured following a dramatic weekend of action.

Surrey Storm, Loughborough Lighting and Manchester Thunder fought off intense comebacks to tie up the top four and will join London Pulse in the play-offs following three exciting wins.

Elsewhere, Saracens Mavericks shot to victory over Strathclyde Sirens to keep their hopes of a top-half finish alive.

Thunder roar into final four

Manchester Thunder roared into the top four with a tense 65-63 derby victory over Leeds Rhinos.

The ‘Battle of the Roses’ clash at the AO Arena in Manchester was a thrilling affair with Rhinos pushing the defending champions all the way to the final whistle.

Amy Carter and Vicki Oyesola championed their squads, with incredible defensive performances that saw the lead change hands multiple times in the opening minutes.

Player of the Match Carter thrilled the crowd with a staggering seven turnovers, five interceptions and two deflections as Oyesola charged to 10 deflections as she challenged Thunder’s Lenize Potgieter at every turn.

Rhinos took the lead after the first quarter, but Thunder roared back into action to gain a marginal advantage, the visitors clawing back to equalise several times.

In a topsy turvy battle, Nat Metcalf returned to the top of the NSL standings with the most feeds this season and Thunder icon Emma Dovey hit an emotional 200th cap for her squad.

Surrey Storm secure final spot

Surrey Storm sealed their place in the final four with a 66-45 victory over Team Bath Netball.

Mikki Austin’s side stormed ahead to a four-goal lead in the first quarter but showed their strength in a dominating second 15 minutes – adding a further 21 goals to their total.

Bath struggled to keep up with a roaring Storm side in the early minutes falling to a 38-21 deficit at the break.

Asha Francis’ side quickly settled into the second half and began to show signs of fresh air, drawing the final quarter 12-12.

Young wing defence Phoebe Maslen shone for Bath with five turnovers, four interceptions and three deflections, retaining her place in the squad following her NSL debut the previous week.

Despite a stronger second half, Bath were unable to make a significant dent in Storm’s lead and Austin’s side guaranteed themselves a place in the final four.

Loughborough Lightning strike hard

Last season’s runners up secured their play-off place with a 57-51 win over Severn Stars at home.

The hosts had built a commanding lead in the first quarter and, despite a rallying attempt, Stars could not stop the 2021 champions from reaching the play-offs for a sixth time in a row.

Back-to-back goals from Emma Thacker handed the hosts the advantage early on and they never let it go.

Lightning were without regular goal shooter Mary Cholhok but still sunk goal after goal before Stars closed the gap to four at the end of the second quarter.

Loughborough relied on the defensive strength of Alice Harvey, Fran Williams and Jas Odeogberin to block Stars from continuing their charge but their advantage was narrowed to just three with 15 minutes to go.

Hearts pounding, both teams went goal for goal before Zanele Vimbela and Thacker put an end to the Stars attack with a turnover and extended their lead to clinch the victory in style.

Quashie and Vinkhumbo show defensive brilliance

Saracens Mavericks won out a battle of the defensive pairs to defeat Strathclyde Sirens 41-38 and keep up their faint hopes of a top-half finish.

Razia Quashie and Towera Vinkhumbo provided a tactical tussle early on, with Sirens claiming the advantage after the opening 15 minutes but the fightback from Mavericks in quarter two was impressive.

The Scottish team struggled to convert as Quashie and Monique Meyer squashed their journey to the net and led their own team to a two-goal advantage in a brilliant comeback.

Sirens star Vinkhumbo grabbed six turnovers and six interceptions at her end of the court as Quashie and Meyer racked up an incredible seven rebounds and multiple turnovers for the hosts.

A tense second half quarter saw Sirens hit back, within just one goal of the home side.

But it was not enough for the Scottish side who could not quite keep the pace and Mavericks edged ahead with a final buzzer goal for triumphant victory.

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