London Pulse extend their winning run to five matches; Manchester Thunder and Loughborough Lightning remain unbeaten; key victory for Surrey Storm over Saracens Mavericks in Rounds Seven and Eight of the Vitality Netball Superleague
Last Updated: 14/03/22 10:46pm
A look back at Rounds Seven and Eight of the Vitality Netball Superleague, with 10 matches played over the course of four days as the season continues in earnest.
The busy few days of elite netball featured everything from 23 and 24-goal victories for Wasps and Thunder, to matches decided by just two and three.
Here we take a look back at some of the key talking points…
Pulse continue to show top-four credentials
On Saturday afternoon, London Pulse beat Surrey Storm 56-50 and in doing so kept Storm to one of their lower goal tallies of the season.
Together Funmi Fadoju and Lindsay Keable – two athletes at differing ends of their careers – worked incredibly hard to shut down Peace Proscovia and limit her impact on the game.
Although Proscovia did score 46 of Storm’s 50 goals, she also missed five attempts, which is an extremely high number for her. Overall, Pulse’s 18 deflections and six intercepts illustrated clearly their hard work in defence.
Pulse then backed up their result against Storm with a ten-goal win over Strathclyde Sirens on Monday evening at the Copper Box Arena.
As a result of their continued productivity, Sam Bird’s outfit now sit firmly inside the top four, and the head coach knows how important their recent run of victories has been.
“Teams have got to come and play really well to beat us now,” Bird said. “The belief is there within the whole squad and it’s really lovely to be able to work with that.”
In Round Nine Pulse’s belief will be strongly tested though, as they head on the road for the first time since February 11. The team are travelling to Belle Vue to take on Manchester Thunder for the first time this season.
Thunder remain unbeaten and produced their eighth victory of the season on Saturday afternoon – a 69-45 result against Leeds Rhinos Netball at the AO Arena.
The platform for their triumph was laid by a staggering first quarter; Karen Greig’s team notched up 21 goals to Rhinos’ seven and across the course of the match, produced 22 deflections to Rhinos’ two!
Storm bounce back to beat Mavericks
In Round Eight, Mikki Austin’s Surrey Storm brushed aside their loss to Pulse and became one of the few teams to have beaten Saracens Mavericks this season.
Austin’s side held a 28-25 lead at half-time and withstood Mavericks reeling them back in during the third quarter, and again, in the final 15 minutes.
It became a goal-for-goal contest with five minutes go before Storm regained the lead with 90 seconds to play. Proscovia stepped up to deliver the much-needed goal that handed the home team a spot of breathing space.
Mavericks were playing without their South African international shooter Ine-Mari Venter.
“It was a really good game,” Austin said after. “I thought we were right in that contest the whole way through it. We felt really connected, we had to do some soul searching after the Pulse game, where were performed well in segments.
“The biggest keyword we took away from that was composure, and the girls brought that to this game. I am really proud we showed strength of character to come out with a win against a classy Mavericks side.”
Mixed fortunes for Wasps
Wasps’ season has largely been a challenging one for them, however, on Friday evening in Round Seven they secured their second victory of the season.
Rachel Dunn, on account of her 250th league appearance, was instrumental in the team’s 60-37 result against Celtic Dragons.
Dunn scored 39 of her team’s goals, with Mel Mansfield’s outfit keeping their error-count lower than Dragons’ over the course of the 60-minute contest at the CBS Arena.
On Sunday afternoon, Wasps then suffered a narrow 57-53 defeat at the hands of last year’s defending champions Loughborough Lightning
Post-match, head coach Mansfield openly said that she would review the changes she decided to make in their shooting-end, but ultimately praised her players’ work and endeavour against the title holders.
Lightning’s victory over Wasps was their first of two over the course of Rounds Seven and Eight, with the team following it up on Monday night with their 53-44 result against Team Bath Netball.
Round Nine of the Vitality Netball Superleague starts on Friday night. Strathclyde Sirens are hosting Celtic Dragons at the Emirates Arena, with the match streamed on the Sky Sports YouTube channel at 7.30pm on Friday. On Saturday, Saracens Mavericks’ match against Leeds Rhinos Netball at 4pm will also be streamed on YouTube.
The feature match on ‘Monday Night Netball’ is between Surrey Storm and Wasps, live on Sky Sports Main Event and Mix at 5pm.