Vitality Netball Superleague: Leeds Rhinos overpower Saracens Mavericks at Copper Box Arena
Leeds Rhinos Netball, Team Bath Netball, Strathclyde Sirens and Loughborough Lightning were all victorious on the Vitality Netball Superleague’s first weekend at the Copper Box Arena in London.
In the competition’s home for the second half of the season, all four teams put on strong displays, while Celtic Dragons also showed considerable improvement during their loss to Bath.
Round 12 continues on Monday night with back-to-back matches, live on Sky Sports Arena and Mix, from 5pm.
First, Wasps and Stars will return to court to take on each other, before London Pulse step onto their home court and face Surrey Storm.
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Rhinos overpower Mavericks
𝓦𝓱𝓪𝓽 𝓪 𝔀𝓲𝓷! #RhinosNetball secure their biggest victory of the season against @SaracensMavs #VNSL2021 | #ReadyToCharge 💙💛 pic.twitter.com/X8BPyKoJ4E
Leeds Rhinos Netball commenced the second half of the season on a confident note as they surged to a 63-48 triumph over Saracens Mavericks.
The last time that the two met back in February, Rhinos lost three of their starting players to injury and this time, they enjoyed better luck and put in an impressive team performance.
Meanwhile for Mavericks, it was a difficult day at the office, and they missed the presence of the injured Razia Quashie in their defensive circle.
During the first half, Rhinos played decisive netball. They let the ball go early into the formidable Donnell Wallam, who hardly missed all day, and at the other end, their defenders hustled hard.
A 33-22 first half was built on strongly, while Mavericks found it difficult to consistently disrupt Rhinos’ flow.
With his side performing well, Ryan maintained his starting seven for the third quarter. In contrast, Mavericks made wholesale changes, including moving Kadeen Corbin back to GK to try and quell the feeds into Wallam.
Q3 | Changes for the third quarter
GA – Chloe Essam
C – Gabby Marshall
WD – Gibson
GD – Trip
GK – Kadeen Corbin
OFF – Sasha Corbin#BeAMaverick ❤️🖤
In the early stages of the third quarter, Corbin’s fingertips reached a number of feeds and she worked tirelessly throughout the second half.
As attackers, Jade Clarke, Brie Grierson and Rhea Dixon adapted well though. Although Mavericks kept on trying to close the gap, Rhinos were firmly in their groove and they even fielded a Sienna Rushton and Wallam GA-GS combination in the final stages.
Table-toppers Bath pushed by Dragons
Team Bath Netball needed a strong championship quarter to set them on their way to a 51-34 victory against a rejuvenated Celtic Dragons side.
The two teams went into the contest at opposite ends of the table. From the start, it was clear that Dragons had worked hard during their two-week break, while Bath were slower out of the blocks than they’d have liked to have been.
Bath head coach Anna Stembridge had said that she wanted the table-toppers to be “smarter” in the second half of the season and they certainly had to problem-solve at the Copper Box.
After a tight first quarter, Dragons were the team to take hold of the contest first. The confident and decisive work of Abigail Tyrrell disrupted Sophie Drakeford-Lewis and her new shooting partner, Betsy Creak.
Stembridge had opted to stick with pre-ordained changes, and during the second 12 minutes, Bath’s attack-end didn’t fire.
In contrast, Dragons rewarded the work of the likes of Tyrrell and Clare Jones, and kept Bath to just six goals.
Celtic 1 up v Bath at half time…[email protected]
With Dragons leading 18-17 lead at half-time, they remained settled personnel-wise, while Kim Borger and Imogen Allison returned to lift Bath.
As Borger led by example and provided a calming presence in attack, Bath’s defensive unit increased their intensity too. Both features helped them establish a five-goal cushion and they increased that to eight at three-quarter time.
Despite Dragons fighting until the last whistle, Bath used the final 12 minutes to expel their earlier frustrations and put some gloss on the final margin of victory.
Kim Borger’s reflections on the contest
Dragons had a fantastic game, that’s the best I’ve seen them play and I hope that’s how they continue to go forwards. For us, it’s a tough road ahead but I’m glad we’ve had that battle so that we know what’s coming in the second half of the season.
Sirens do double over Stars
Strathclyde Sirens secured their second victory of the season over Severn Stars through a productive 48-minute performance.
Karen Atkinson’s side started strongly, held firm when Stars hit back at them and remained cool to secure the 45-37 result.
With Bethan Goodwin unavailable for selection due to exams, Niamh McCall started alongside Emma Barrie and there was minimal disruption to Sirens’ work.
Meanwhile, Stars welcomed back Liana Leota from injury and introduced Kyra Jones into their squad.
After holding a three-goal lead at the first pause, Sirens upped the ante in the second quarter. Gia Abernethy and Bethany Dix hit the circle edge well, and Barrie slotted her goals nicely.
At the half-time break, Abernethy wanted more direction from Sirens while Leota implored her side to take care of their own possession.
During the early stages of the third quarter, Stars hit back. Jones and Leota grew into the game, while Georgia Rowe maintained a high level of accuracy in their shooting circle.
Midway through the third, Stars had pulled it back to within three, before Sirens quietly went about restoring their hold on the match. They moved back into a dominant position and after a final few words from Atkinson, had the nous to see the match out.
Great to get back to the action🙌🏻 Feels like ages but loving the work by everyone @EnglandNetball @SkyNetball All the @NetballSL teams @CopperBoxArena and all of our amazing partners and sponsors for a seamless transition to London 🤗👊🏻 pic.twitter.com/MIGpCDWJjm
Lightning secure spoils against Wasps
In the final match of the day, Loughborough Lightning started and finished strongly to secure a 52-42 victory over Wasps Netball.
Sara Bayman’s side will now head back to Loughborough, while Wasps have a second match of the round on Monday night against Severn Stars.
Lightning started with a familiar seven, however Wasps handed a first Superleague start to Leah Goss due to Sophia Candappa stepping away from the court as a result of her pregnancy.
As the more settled of the two, Lightning got into their groove quickly and a swift route into Mary Cholhok paid dividends with a 16-7 first quarter.
However, the two-time champions hit back in the second as they played with greater confidence and let the ball go into their own prolific shooter, Rachel Dunn.
With the contest posited at 26-21 at half-time, Bayman introduced Jaz Odeogberin, someone who has been prolific off the bench, to change Lightning’s dynamic in defence.
Initially, Mel Mansfield stayed true to Wasps’ starting line-up however, when there was a forced stoppage due to a nasty injury to Hannah Joseph, she also changed the picture.
With Amy Flanagan moving to Centre, they immediately turned over ball and put a run of goals on the board.
Wasps pulled it back to within five and remained in touching distance early in the fourth quarter, before Lightning put their foot to the floor and effortlessly took the game away from them.
Sky Sports is your home of netball. The Vitality Netball Superleague continues on Monday with the final two matches of Round 12, live on Sky Sports Arena and Mix from 5pm.
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