Team Bath Vs Strathclyde Sirens

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WORCESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 04: The Saracens Mavericks side hold a post match huddle during the Vitality Netball Superleague match between Severn Stars and Saracens Mavericks at the University of Worcester Arena on March 04, 2019 in Worcester, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images for England Netball)

Saracens Mavericks keep pressure on Wasps

Saracens Mavericks ran out 68-38 winners over Strathclyde Sirens on Saturday afternoon.

With a bitter, season-ending two-goal loss against Sirens at the end of the 2018 season still fresh in the memory, they travelled to Scotland with intent to right some wrongs.

The hosts took the game east to Edinburgh and the spectacular Oriam Performance Centre. The new surroundings inspired Sirens to score first, although resilient Mavericks defence meant that it took 10 passes for the ball to finally reach the goal.

Mavericks familiar back line of Razia Quashie at GK, Jo Trip in GD and Michelle Drayne at WD started to apply the pressure, but the home side returned the favour with equal measures of patience making it difficult to win the ball.

Sirens were missing their star shooter Cat Tuivaiti, but Bethan Goodwin’s strength and Lynsey Gallagher’s speed combined to find gaps in the away defence. The Scottish side led 15-14 at the end of Q1.

Q2 started with the Sirens defence in fiery form, lots of body on body contest made it tough work for Mavericks to find a route to goal.

Sasha Corbin and Georgia Lees swapped bibs and continued to battle through the gauntlet to find George Fisher and Kadeen Corbin on the end of their passes.

A perfect centre pass to goal conversion saw Mavericks take all of their possession to goal in the second quarter. The momentum had switched ends and the visitors went into half-time 32-24 ahead.

Karyn Bailey entered the game at GS for the third quarter, and whilst the away team struggled to find her in the opening minutes, Fisher, now at GA, displayed great court craft and ball placement to settle the team back into the game.

Trip and Lindsay Keable were also gelling as a duo with Trip coming out with fine intercepts and dominant rebounds.

Corbin dominated the line with her twists, turns and thoughtful feeding, but it was Fisher who impressed with her availability and precision in the circle.

Combined with Bailey, who slotted away 13 of her 14 attempts in Q3, Mavericks stretcher the advantage out to 52-31 with one quarter to go.

Steph Collard was introduced at WD for the final 15 minutes and she drove the ball through the Sirens zone defence with ease, whilst continuing to shut down the threat of Nicole McCleery.

There was just enough time left for a season debut for the returning Sophie Hankin, after spending the last six months on the treatment table with a knee injury.

She didn’t waste any time getting on the stat sheet, celebrating her return to action by whizzing across the circle, cutting up the Sirens defence and slotting away her trademark long bomb.

Head Coach Kat Ratnapala said after the game: “Scotland has notoriously been a tough place for us to travel up to and I’m pleased that we have finally broken the run of losses in past years.

“George Fisher was outstanding today, really impressive at both GS and GA, she was a target and playmaker in both positions for our attacking play.

“Reaching the halfway point of the season in the top four is absolutely where we wanted to be at this stage, but we are under no illusions that there is a lot more work to come.”

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Manchester Thunder overcome Storm

It wasn’t a perfect start for Manchester Thunder, who were sporting pink instead of their usual Black and Yellow in support of Cancer Research, but a dominant performance in the second and third quarters was enough to see off sixth place Surrey Storm.

Thunder have faced the challenge of three consecutive away trips in the past two weeks, no doubt they were happy to be greeted by the home crowd at Belle Vue. A dream-like victory over Wasps earlier in the week provided the back drop for the atmosphere at the home tie.

It took Thunder around ten minutes of the first quarter to settle into the game, they allowed Storm to take a five goal lead early doors. But it was perhaps enough to frighten them into a performance, after a superb victory earlier in the week over top of the table Wasps, Thunder needed to keep the momentum high in front of the home crowd.

An injury for Storm’s Mikki Austin in the last minute of the first quarter was a blow to the visitors, but Thunder were determined to see out the quarter in front.

Thunder were glad to see the back of the first quarter, they managed to regain control of the game and take a one goal lead, but a telling off from Head Coach Karen Greig was inevitable and the second quarter was set to be interesting.

Thunder forced the mistakes out of Storm as the second quarter got underway, a welcome relief to the Thunder following who grew louder as Thunder’s confidence increased.

Thunder worked hard in defence to ensure South African shooter Sigi Berger was blocked out and Storm’s shooters found it difficult to get a handle on the game. Thunder had managed to establish a comfortable lead heading into half time and Greig will have been happy with the way Thunder had battled it out and capitalised on Storm’s errors.

The third quarter saw Thunder notch an impressive 20 goals, next to Storm’s disappointing eight.  The Black and Yellows kept the tempo high and the mistakes from Storm just kept coming.

Moments of brilliance were evident, the link up play between the feeders and the shooters along with Kerry Almond’s diving interceptions made for excellent viewing.

Caroline O’Hanlon and Liana Leota’s communication seemed almost telepathic, with both players appearing to know exactly where the other would be in a given moment.

Amy Carter enjoyed a spell at WD in place of Laura Malcolm, but it was short lived as O’Hanlon had to come off due to injury, forcing Malcolm to come back on and Carter to move to C, a position she has previously relished in.

As the final quarter rolled around, it seemed that Thunder had done enough to see off the game.  They took their foot off the gas as the final minutes played out, happy with their lead.

Storm had more opportunities in the last quarter but Thunder’s lead was too strong and Storm had set themselves an impossible task.

Thunder were able to consolidate their lead through signature long-bombs from Kathryn Turner and equally impressive shots from Ellie Cardwell. Joyce Mvula received Player of the Match from former Thunder star Lynsey Armitage for her imposing performance under the post.

Back to back wins for Karen Greig’s Thunder, who has previously discussed the team’s struggle with consistency.  Another tough away trip to Saracens Mavericks greets Thunder in Round 10, the half way point in the Vitality Netball Superleague.

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

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Photo credit: Mark Pritchard

Ella clark vs dragons

Lightning make it four from four

Loughborough Lightning claimed their fourth win in a row in Cardiff on Saturday, after a dominant display over home side Celtic Dragons, sealing a 70-57 win.

Lightning went into the ninth round of the Vitality Netball Superleague sitting in the top four after a string of wins over Pulse, Thunder and Storm however their spot was far from safe with Bath and Thunder eagerly chomping at the bit to work into the top four. The match therefore became a crucial win for Lightning before they faced league leaders Wasps the following week.

A fast-paced start to the match saw Lightning firing on all cylinders to bring the ball safely down court and into the circle. Long passes into an airborne Cholhok saw the scoring tally rack up quickly. Dragons defence soon teamed up to apply pressure to Cholhok, leaving Clark an open circle to sink her famous long bombs. At the other end of the court meanwhile, Panagarry’s loud encouragement and Keenan’s sheer determination began to rattle the Dragons attacking circle despite the dominance of Chelsea Lewis.

End of Quarter 1: Loughborough Lightning 19-12 Celtic Dragons

Taking no time to slow the game down, Lightning returned to court and continued to keep up the speed and dominate the game. Tips on the circle edge from Oyesola and Panagarry halted the ball in getting to Dragon’s shooters whilst Shaw and Joseph worked the ball round the circle, disorientating the opposition before firing it into Cholhok and Clark who sank the shots. A series of calls from the umpires turned the ball back and forth before Lightning claimed the point and ended the first half with a strong eight-point lead.

Half-time: Loughborough Lightning 35-27 Celtic Dragons

A shaky start to the second half for the home side saw Dragons start with six. Despite moving Panagarry to centre and bringing on Loughborough Student Caroline Tarnowski at wing-defence, lightning ignored the home-sides need to regroup and pressed on. Chasing their tails, Dragons increased the physicality of the game resulting in much of the points being scored off penalties. Holding back their frustrations, Lighting pushed on and provided support at every level of the court to work it into the circle.

End of Quarter 3: Loughborough Lightning 54-40 Celtic Dragons

With a heightened lead of fourteen, Lightning came onto court confident and eager to bring home the win. An increased lead on the home side allowed Head Coach Sara Bayman to make changes on court and give the bench players vital game time. First onto court was Lucy Parize who took up the GA spot from veteran Clark with ease, allowing Lightning to continue with their progression. Boosted by the ease of her change, Bayman soon brought on Annabel Roddy at GD and Amy Clinton to GS who once again took no time at all to settle into the match and add more points to the board. The final change of the night was the reintroduction of Shaw to WA, allowing Hannah Joseph a well-earned rest. The clock soon ticked down and the final whistle confirmed victory for Loughborough Lightning.

Full-time: Loughborough Lightning 70-57 Celtic Dragons

Head Coach Sara Bayman explained how key the win was in gaining momentum for her side.

“We knew it was going to be tough travelling to Cardiff but I think we showed a lot of grit and determination tonight.

“We had really good patches and some not so great but at the end of the day the final score is what counts.

“I think securing our fourth win in a row was crucial as we head into the next fixture vs Wasps.

“We’ve talked a lot about momentum and how key it was to go into that Wasps fixture off the back of a good run.”

She also mentioned the importance of giving bench players more experience as the season goes on.

She said: “It was really good to give as many players as we could some court time tonight and those that did come off the bench played well, came on, did their job and slotted in nicely.

“Tonight’s match was the perfect example of why we need to be giving ourselves a nice early lead in order to bring those younger players on and give them key experience on court in different situations.”

Lightning’s next fixture is one of the most anticipated of the season as they welcome reigning champions Wasps to Loughborough on Monday 18th March. Broadcast live on sky, the girls in purple will be looking to put one past the opposition, who currently sit at the top of the table, in front of a home crowd.

Tickets to the clash are selling fast so if you want to witness all the action from Sir David Wallace Arena, secure your seats now by visiting www.loughboroughlightning.com

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: Loughborough Lightning

Josie Huckle

Wasps return to winning ways with derby victory

Wasps Netball returned to winning ways with a dramatic 54-47 victory against West Midlands rivals Severn Stars.

Mel Mansfield’s team took a ten-goal lead in the first-half but saw the gap reduced to four goals in the final-quarter.

The table-toppers remained under pressure until the final whistle but were able to come away with a hard-fought victory.

Mansfield said: “It’s good to get the win. I’m not particularly happy with the performance but at the end of the day, the three points is what matters.

“I didn’t feel we were going to lose it but we let them get back into the game in the third-quarter, which has typically been a strong quarter for us this season.

“However, we came through the pressure and played well in the final-quarter to come away with the win.

“We had the benefit of playing at home with fantastic support to push us forward when it got tight.

“We’ll be looking at why we faltered in the third-quarter and will put that right before we play Loughborough Lightning next Monday.”

Wasps were slow out the blocks in the first-quarter and Stars took advantage to take early control.

Stars Goal Keeper Sam Cook proved disruptive during the opening stages, halting the hosts’ attacks with multiple interceptions.

Bongi Msomi responded by breaking up play and winning the ball from Stars, feeding Rachel Dunn well to keep Wasps in touch.

The home side were able to build momentum to close the first-quarter, with a series of quickfire goals giving the Black and Golds a three-goal lead.

Katie Harris put on a clinical shooting display to open the second-quarter, relieving the pressure on her side from the first centre-pass.

The hosts found their attacking rhythm, working the ball into the circle with ease and pushing out to a six-goal lead.

Fran Williams also starred throughout the second 15 minutes. The Goal Defence combined well with Hannah Knights at Goal Keeper to break up play and help their team to build a double-figure advantage.

Wasps started the second-half in style, with a swift attacking move finding Dunn for the goal.

However, the visitors found their flow and were soon back within six, with former Wasp Halimat Adio impressing at Goal Keeper for Stars.

The momentum remained with Stars, who stifled the Black and Golds’ attack and reduced the deficit to five going into the final-quarter.

Stars continued to put pressure on their hosts to start the fourth-quarter and were soon within three goals, as Wasps attempted to find a solution.

A huge interception from Knights proved a key moment, followed up by a mistake from Stars to help the Black and Golds extend their lead.

The home side were able to hold on to their advantage and come away as 54-47 winners.

Wasps Netball’s next fixture will see them take on Loughborough Lightning at Sir David Wallace Arena on Monday 18 March (7pm 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