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Lightning come from behind to win top four clash

Loughborough Lightning stole the show on Saturday night claiming their seventh win in a row with a 54 – 49 victory over Saracens Mavericks.

Lightning began the game determined in front of a 900 strong home crowd. After a last-minute victory away to Severn Stars they were keen to push ahead and take the game at their own pace to get ahead early. Both sides converted their opening centre passes despite three interceptions during the first centre. The scores remained level for much of the quarter as Lightning looked to keep their calm and open up holes in Mavericks attack.

As the game progressed into the second quarter both sides increased their physicality in an attempt to force error. Multiple contact calls were made in Lightning’s shooting circle but Cholhok and Clark remained unphased and continued to sink their shots. With Panagarry providing critical support on the line, Shaw and Joseph worked the ball around before sending it over Mavericks defence into the shot line. Down at the far end Keenan and Oyesola had begun to read the incoming pass and push Corbin out wide to force the long bomb shot. The first half ended with Lightning trailing by just three.

A huge third quarter was needed from the home side to close the gap and get past the visitors. Mavericks made changes to their shooting line-up whilst Lightning chose to stay the same and push on. The fans were treated to many a turnover however Lightning struggled to hold on to the ball. The final five minutes of the quarter saw them close the gap and level the score. The whistle sounded and Lightning trailed by just one.

Remaining unchanged as the final quarter began, Lightning ignored Mavericks need to regroup and pushed on. With a deficit of just one point the game was far from over. Taking her chances from wide in the circle, Clark sunk shot after shot, impressing the fans with her basketball style shooting. Meanwhile Panagarry amped up the volume and pace to drive her side through the final 15 minutes. Showing pure grit and determination Lightning pushed past Mavericks in the final five minutes to take the lead and secure a 54 – 49 victory.

Gaining herself Player of the Match with another impressive performance on court, Nat Panagarry recognised the importance of a strong home crowd: “This season the crowd has been absolutely amazing, to everyone that comes in week in week out, we hear you constantly and we can’t explain how much of a difference it makes in pushing us right to the end.”

Head Coach Sara Bayman commented on the push from her side to close out the game: “I’m really pleased with their performance in the second half, we knew a quality side like Mavericks were going to push us for the entire 60 minutes. I think now we need to look at how we start the game how we finished it, we made really hard work of the first 30 minutes. I think because the last few games have gone down to the wire, it gives us a sense of belief that no matter how tired we are we can go out and win them so that was the message to the girls at half time.”

Lightning are back at home on Monday 8th April welcoming Surrey Storm to campus live on Sky Sports. Tickets to the clash are selling fast so secure your seats now by visiting www.loughboroughlighting.com

Scores:

Quarter 1: Loughborough Lightning 11 – 12 Saracens Mavericks

Half-time: Loughborough Lightning 22 – 25 Saracens Mavericks

Quarter 3: Loughborough Lightning 38 – 39 Saracens Mavericks

Full-time: Loughborough Lightning 54 – 49 Saracens Mavericks

Tickets are now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final!

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Photo credit: Still Sport

Storm vs. Bath

Team Bath quell Storm

Team Bath emerged from their Monday-night away trip to Surrey Storm with a win, a move back into the top four, a place in October’s Fast5 event at the Copper Box Arena and the opportunity to give a fuller squad on-court time.

The victory was also a chance to avenge January’s home defeat to Storm. Laura Rudland, brought on early at wing-attack after a knock to Rachel Shaw, Leila Thomas, the Welsh defender in quarter three, and Abi Robson at wing-defence, in the final quarter, all enjoyed court time in the 48-57 victory – Team Bath’s sixth in a row.

Team Bath Head Coach Jess Thirlby dubbed the victory “a big squad performance” against a Storm side she characterises as “always difficult to beat away from home”.

The Sitec-sponsored Blue and Gold built a 5-1 opening lead only for Storm to pull the margin back to just two goals at quarter-time, 10-12.  A roller-coaster second quarter must have given Head Superleague Coach Anna Stembridge a few grey hairs.  Team Bath led by 20-15 but saw that margin crumble as Storm surged to a 24-22 lead before Bath pulled two back to go to half-time level at 24-24.

In a game of twists and turns the third quarter proved the decisive with Team Bath adding eight unanswered goals as they came off the half-time bench.  By three-quarter time the lead was 32-39 in Team Bath’s favour and despite a short-lived Storm fight-back the Blue and Gold, also supported by Mogers Drewett, Soldi and Centurion Chartered Financial Planners, drove onto victory.

That leaves the stage set for the next home game when Team Bath take on Loughborough Lightning, coached this season by ex-Team Bathonian Sara Bayman, on April 12th at 7.30pm.

Hardly the thickness of a credit card separates the two sides currently with both in the top four and each having 27 points alongside Wasps. Manchester Thunder top the table with 30 points.

Before that home encounter, though, Team Bath take on Wasps away on Saturday April 8th with Loughborough at home to Storm in their next round.

Tickets are now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final!

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

Photo credit: Steve Porter

Sirens vs Thunder

Thunder overcome Sirens to return to the top of the table

A solid performance from Manchester Thunder who now sit back on top of the Vitality Netball Superleague after beating Strathclyde Sirens in Glasgow.

Thunder got off to a flying start and it was clear from the outset that it was going to be a tough ask for Glasgow-based Strathclyde Sirens to overcome the Black and Yellows.

Thunder established an early lead and managed to stretch it to ten goals at one point in the first quarter with star shooter Joyce Mvula shooting at 100%, bagging herself an impressive 14 of the 19 goals scored in the opening 15 minutes.

Sirens struggled to find their form and some poor shooting left ample opportunity for defenders Emma Dovey and Kerry Almond to punish their mistakes.  Thunder lacked pace at times but they had no problems in sending the ball to the other end of court, Mvula and Kathryn Turner only too happy to reward the efforts.

Thunder finished the first quarter nine goals to the good, an early lead which Sirens struggled to chase for the remainder of the match.

The second quarter saw much of the same, Thunder displayed snippets of brilliance as Dovey and Laura Malcolm were able to push up the court and create space and opportunity for the attackers.

Sirens looked unsettled and Thunder were taking advantage of every mistake they made.  But as the first half drew to a close the game began to get physical and Sirens forced the errors from Thunder.

The Black and Yellows took a 15 goal lead into half time, despite the fact that they seemed to have plenty left in the locker.  With the league so tight, it was the perfect chance to rack up some goals and cement their position at the top of the table.

The second half saw Head Coach Karen Greig ring in the changes and use Thunder’s advantage to try out some new combinations on court.

Eleanor Cardwell enjoyed a stint at GS as Rebekah Airey replaced Almond at the other end.  Amy Carter, who had an impressive performance against Wasps last week, made way for Caroline O’Hanlon at C.

Thunder blew out a 20 goal lead at one stage in the third quarter as Cardwell shot well under the post, controlling the circle well with the help of O’Hanlon and Player of the Match Liana Leota.

A few errors from Thunder at the end of the quarter saw Sirens scramble a flurry of goals but the 18 goal lead had become a mountain to climb for the Scottish side.

As the final 15 minutes rolled around it felt like Thunder had barely got out of third gear, not the Black and Yellow’s best performance, but the sign of a winning team.

Thunder perhaps would have liked to push a little bit harder in the closing stages of the game, but Greig saw the match as the ideal opportunity to showcase the talent on her bench.

Paige Kindred played a spell at GD, a chance for Captain Emma Dovey to rest.  Ally Thomas made her Superleague debut at GA and made an impression, grabbing herself a couple of goals.

Thunder showed their strength in depth, managing to get all 12 players out on court.  They were tenacious and, although not on their best form, it was almost a warning to the rest of the top four.  To win so comfortably, but without the intensity that we have seen at other stages in the season.

Their next home game is against Celtic Dragons on Saturday 6th April, grab your tickets here >> http://bit.ly/thuvcd

Starting 7s:

Manchester Thunder: Mvula, Turner, Leota, Carter, Malcolm, Dovey, Almond

Strathclyde Sirens: Goodwin, Gallagher, McCleary, Abernethy, Maxwell, Nicholl, Gibbons

Player of the Match: Liana Leota (Chosen by Sky)

Quarter-time Scores:

Q1: 10-19

Q2: 18-33

Q3: 28-46

Q4: 36-62

Tickets are now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final!

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

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Wasps return to winning ways against Pulse

Wasps Netball returned to winning ways with a convincing 67-35 triumph over London Pulse at Ricoh Arena on Sunday.

Mel Mansfield’s side were on top throughout the match and pressed their advantage in the third-quarter to pull away from the visitors.

The win sees Wasps move back to the top of the Vitality Netball Superleague – with Manchester Thunder playing their game in hand against Strathclyde Sirens on Monday.

Mansfield said: “It was a good win for us, this game was all about getting some belief back in the team.

“I was delighted that they pushed on and won by a big margin. It wasn’t the finished article but we’ve got a lot of rounds to go yet to perfect our play.

“It was really important we didn’t have any lapses of concentration, we kept the foot on the pedal throughout and overall I’m really pleased with the performance.

“We know our players really well. It was a great opportunity to give Tamsin Moala some exposure today and she made a great impact.

“Next up for us is Team Bath which is a huge game and we’ll be working hard in training to make sure we are ready for the test.”

Wasps started the match in attacking free-flow, scoring with ease through Rachel Dunn on their first possession.

But Pulse impressed in the opening five minutes to keep pace with the home side, going goal-for-goal.

The London side forced the first turnover and stretched out to a two-goal lead, but Wasps came straight back with their own interception and were soon back level.

Wasps started to assert control, stretching their lead at the end of the quarter to six, with Fran Williams and Hannah Knights impressing at the defensive end to break up play.

Moala entered the action for the second-quarter and immediately found her shooting rhythm, scoring two back-to-back goals.

Dunn and Moala continued to impress as a shooting duo, with Bongi Msomi and Jade Clarke working tirelessly to create goalscoring opportunities.

Wasps stretched out to a double-figure lead but Pulse were able to slow down the hosts’ attack and limit the deficit to 11 at half-time.

The Black and Golds’ defence made an impact to start the second-half, with Amy Flanagan and Knights on hand to win possession back for their side.

Clarke exerted her influence throughout the third-quarter, providing successive long out-balls and proving a key link between defence and attack.

Wasps maintained their high intensity and led by 19 goals going into the final 15 minutes.

The home side remained composed during the fourth-quarter, consistently finding Dunn in space and stretching their advantage.

Loreen Ngwira was sent off with three minutes to go, reducing Pulse to six players, following persistent fouling on Dunn.

Bethany Dix entered the court for her Wasps Superleague debut as the clock ran down – and was met with a standing ovation from the Black and Gold supporters.

Wasps kept their foot on the pedal until the final whistle to secure a 32-goal margin victory to return to winning ways.

Wasps Netball’s next fixture will see them take on Team Bath at Ricoh Arena on Saturday 6 April (5pm centre-pass).

Tickets are now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final!

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

Photo credit: Clive Jones