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Round 4 Review: Thunder strike down Stars

Image: Ben Lumley

Friday night also saw London Pulse make it three wins on the bounce with victory over Team Bath, while Leeds Rhinos powered past Strathclyde Sirens for their first win of the season.

Manchester Thunder are the only unbeaten side remaining in the Netball Super League, as they beat Severn Stars 65-50.

There were also wins for Surrey Storm and Loughborough Lightning.

Thunder strike down Stars

Friday night saw the two unbeaten sides meet live on TV, as Severn Stars welcomed Manchester Thunder to Worcester.

Stars have been a standout story so far this season, with Jo Trip’s side defying the expectations to emerge as early contenders for the top four.

But if there is anyone who knows what it takes to finish there, it is Karen Greig’s Thunder and the four-time champions showed exactly why with a clinical 65-50 victory in front of a sold-out crowd.

Thunder took the first quarter 16-13 – the first quarter Stars had lost all season – and never relinquished their lead as the rotating circle of Lois Pearson and Paige Reed once again proved devastating.

Pearson put on 12 feeds alongside her 22 goals in anther standout performance, but it was goal keeper Josie Huckle who took Player of the Match honours with an equally impressive showing in defence.

Huckle teamed up to superb effect with Shadine van der Merwe to hold off Stars’ attack, with the keeper posting four gains and a deflection to help her side to the top of the table.

Pulse break records

London Pulse put up their highest-ever number of goals with a 76-43 win over Team Bath.

Pulse followed up last week’s nail-biting victory over Loughborough Lighting with a ruthless showing in the West Country, quickly racing out to a 18-12 first quarter lead before motoring to a 37-23 advantage at the break.

That stemmed from a strong showing in the circle, with Player of the Match Berri Neil shooting 24 goals at 100%, as well as producing 23 feeds, with Liv Tchine putting on 36 goals.

That will have delighted director of netball Sam Bird, who highlighted their attack as the place for improvement after opening day defeat to Thunder, with Pulse’s Funmi Fadoju-inspired defence once again on form.

Fadoju picked up another eight deflections and five gains, with Hali Adio earning seven gains and Darcie Everitt a further three.

For Bath, it was a case of gradual improvements for Asha Francis’ young side, with the Blue & Gold boss ruing a frustrating fourth quarter.

“If we had stopped after three quarters I would have been really pleased with the performance,” said Francis.

“The error rate was lower and overall it was a definitely a step in the right direction after the past two weeks. We made them feel less than comfortable at times and we played well against a quality defensive side.

“It’s just looking at those passages where we have the run of momentum against us and how we stop them sooner. We also have to look at that last quarter and see what happened.”

Rhinos rack up first win

Leeds Rhinos earned their first win of the season with a thumping 73-34 win over Strathclyde Sirens.

Rhinos came agonisingly close to victory last weekend, losing 55-54 to Cardiff Dragons, but got over the line a week later in Huddersfield as Joyce Mvula scored 47 goals.

Sirens were restricted to just six goals in both the first and third quarters, with Rhinos defender Zoe Davies picking up a huge eight gains and three deflections, with Geva Mentor also adding four gains and five deflections.

That was backed up with some incisive shooting at the other end, with Mvula’s 47 coming at a rate of 94%.

Sirens can take plenty of positives once again from the performance of Sammy Ngubane, who top scored with 18 goals from goal attack while captain Emily Nicholl picked up four gains and five deflections.

But the Scottish outfit will be determined to pick up their first win of the season when they welcome Cardiff Dragons to Glasgow next Friday.

Storm keep Dragons at bay

The only game on Saturday saw Surrey Storm beat Cardiff Dragons 63-56 live on BBC Sport.

A pulsating encounter saw little to choose between the sides for much of the contest, with Storm edging into a three-goal lead at the end of the first quarter, which was reduced to two at the break.

That remained the margin for much of the second half, until Storm gradually pulled away to eventually finish seven clear and make it back-to-back victories.

Proscovia Peace continued her return to court with a typically accurate performance in the circle, her 47 goals came at a rate of 92%.

They came with the help of Beth Dix’s 41 feeds in the circle, while Sophie Drakeford-Lewis was named Player of the Match thanks to a typically all-action performance at goal attack.

Accuracy proved the downfall of Dragons, with none of their four shooters able to score above 90% despite Khanyisa Chawane keeping the circle well-supplied.

They also faced an in-form Haniisha Muhameed, who impressed with 10 deflections and seven gains in defence.

Lightning too good for Mavericks

Lesser teams than Loughborough Lightning would have been floored by their one-point loss to London Pulse in Round 3.

But the East Midlands side got back on the horse in emphatic fashion with a thumping 66-46 win over Saracens Mavericks.

Lightning were at their devastating best in the second quarter, where they outscored the visitors by 19 goals to seven to pave the way for a convincing victory.

The partnership between Mary Cholhok and Rhea Dixon came to the fore and proved too much for the Mavericks rearguard of Razia Quashie and Vicki Oyesola.

Lightning will hope to maintain their momentum in next week’s BBC-televised clash with Leeds Rhinos before a crunch meeting with Manchester Thunder in Round 6.

Mavericks, meanwhile, will hope to bounce back as they travel to Team Bath on Friday night.

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