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Round 2 review: Lightning roar to the top of the table

Loughborough Lightning rose to the top of the Netball Super League with a storming 83-46 win over Team Bath.

In the first match of the season broadcast live on the BBC, the defending champions were kept close by a youthful Team Bath for much of the first quarter before Vic Burgess’ side used all their experience to pull away.

The other televised match on Sky Sports saw Saracens Mavericks claim a hard-fought win over Leeds Rhinos, while there were big wins for Severn Stars and London Pulse as well as a Friday night victory for Manchester Thunder.

Lightning strike at home

Loughborough Lightning are out for back-to-back Super League titles this season and showed plenty of reasons why they could do just that with a dominant performance at the Sir David Wallace Arena.

The hosts went goal for goal with Bath for much of the first quarter, with the endeavour of Phoebe Maslen helping Asha Francis’ side keep in touch.

But Lightning quickly clicked through the gears and a big second quarter saw the defending champions in total control, with a 21-goal lead at the break.

The defensive unit of Alice Harvey, Nicola Smith, and Beth Cobden appeared impenetrable at times and the indomitable Mary Cholhok ensured a steady supply of goals at the other end to seal a convincing win for Lightning.

The Ugandan now has 103 goals from her first two games, 28 more than any other player in the league (Sigi Burger, 75).

Thacker inspires Mavericks to first win

Emma Thacker is a new face around the Hertfordshire Sports Village, but the attacker will have earned plenty of new fans after her home debut.

The 20-year-old produced a Kissimmee Player of the Match performance to power Saracens Mavericks to their first win of the season with a 53-44 win over Leeds Rhinos.

Thacker shot 27 goals, with several from range, and stood up to the test of going up against Geva Mentor in the circle.

Rhinos made Mavericks sweat for the victory but were never truly able to take full of advantage when they were on top, in part thanks to crucial defensive interventions from Jodie Gibson and Vicki Oyesola.

There were plenty of encouraging signs for Liana Leota however, with young goal attack Harriet Jones again shining and Joyce Mvula continuing to settle back into the Super League with a 90% shooting success rate.

Thunder roar back from behind

Manchester Thunder produced a stunning second half performance to get past Cardiff Dragons 63-52 on Friday evening.

Dragons led 27-26 at half-time after two incredibly tight quarters, but were undone after the interval as Karen Greig’s side found an extra edge.

Khanyisa Chawane shone on her debut with 34 feeds from wing attack, while goal shooter Hannah Passmore netted 45 goals without a single miss to her name to give Jill McIntosh plenty to be excited about moving forward.

But it was Thunder who turned the screw in the second half, with new recruit Elmerè van der Berg finding her range with 28 goals alongside the successful rotating circle of Paige Reed and Lois Pearson.

It was also another big showing from Shadine van der Merwe, who picked up where she left off at the Season Opener with six gains and eight deflections to successfully stymie any Dragons fightback and leave Thunder with two wins from two.

Stars make statement against Sirens

Severn Stars were one of the stories of last season and look determined to make sure they are again this year as they notched their second win in as many games to open the 2024 season.

Stars ran out 67-38 winners against Strathclyde Sirens at the University of Worcester Arena, to leave Jo Trip’s side second in the fledgling table.

A first quarter time score of 21-9 set the tone, with Stars restricting Sirens to just six goals in the second quarter despite the absence of Season Opener standout Jasmine Brown.

Ella Powell-Davies stepped into the void, notching five gains, while shooters Sigi Burger and Betsy Creak spread the load up front, making full use of Jess Shaw’s 37 feeds.

Stars, who finished sixth last term, travel to Team Bath next Friday live on BBC Sport where they will hope to continue their strong start to the season.

Pulse bounce back in style

London Pulse had a Season Opener to forget last weekend but responded with a dominant 62-46 win away at Surrey Storm in Round 2.

Pulse were beaten 56-40 by Manchester Thunder in Nottingham but showed little signs of being fazed by that result as they powered past Storm in a repeat of last year’s semi-final.

The visitors raced into an 18-10 lead in the first quarter, including a run of four goals in a row, with Olivia Tchine putting up 39 goals in total for the match.

With the attack end of Tchine and Berri Neil clicking, the defence also continued to impress with Funmi Fadoju producing a key interception in the second quarter to keep Pulse on the front foot.

Fadoju ended the match with 15 deflections and five gains, and now has 30 deflections from her first two matches, more than double the next best (Nicola Smith, 13).

There were some bright sparks for Storm as they fought back after the break, taking the third quarter 16-15 while Proscovia Peace also made her return to court, ending with 20 goals at 91%.

But Pulse were able to fend off any late surges to earn their first win of the campaign ahead of next week’s Grand Final rematch against Loughborough Lightning, live on Sky Sports.

You can re-live some of the weekend’s action over on our YouTube channel.

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