It was the penultimate round of regular Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) season this weekend, and all four finals teams were confirmed following the results.
It was confirmed that unbeaten Manchester Thunder will be joined in the finals by Loughborough Lightning, London Pulse and Team Bath.
Let’s see how the international players got on this week…
Team Bath 43 – 41 Wasps
It was Team Bath’s last home game of the season this weekend, and they did not disappoint their fans as they were treated to an exciting and tense match where the home side clung on till the very end to take a 43-41 victory.
Going into the final quarter Team Bath led by four, which they soon extended to six, but in the final five minutes Wasps managed to get back to within two goals and things became slightly more tense.
Play off chasing Bath ended the match celebrating not just their win, but also the contributions of Rachel Shaw and Australian shooter Kimberly Borger who have both announced that they will be retiring at the end of the season, and Head Coach Anna Stembridge who will also be stepping away from the VNSL at the end of the season.
Baths play-off place was still dependent on other results over the weekend though, as they needed Leeds Rhino’s to beat Saracen’s Mavericks in order to have their top four spot confirmed.
Leeds Rhinos 62 – 58 Saracens Mavericks
The next match of the weekend confirmed the top four teams, with Leeds Rhino’s strong start proving enough to see off Saracen’s Mavericks and confirm Bath’s spot in the semi finals.
Rhinos led by seven at half-time, and thanks to some patient and persistent work from England Rose Jade Clarke at centre to get the ball down the court to the shooters safely, and then the accurate shooting of South Africa SPAR Protea Sigi Burger, who scored 59 goals in the game, managed to secure the win.
Celtic Dragons 40 – 51 Strathclyde Sirens
Celtic Dragons made Sirens work for their 6th win of the season, as the score sat at 23-23 at half-time with it all still to play for.
It was Siren’s that came out firing in the second half, with Malawi Queen Towera Vinkhumbo flying on interceptions and turning over ball to get her team back in front.
From then, Dragons never got back into the game, as Sirens extended their lead from a 5-goal lead after 45 minutes, to a 11-goal lead at full-time.
Loughborough Lightning 66 – 46 Severn Stars
Loughborough Lightning secured their 18th win of the season, in their match against Severn Stars.
Lightning dominated throughout, extending their lead each quarter from a three-goal lead after 15-minutes, to 10 by half-time, and finally to 20 by full-time.
South Africa SPAR Protea Zan Zimbela was just one standout player for Lightning, as she stuck to her role in defence and helped Lightning control the game.
Surrey Storm 38 – 45 London Pulse
Next up, Surrey Storm welcomed London Pulse to Surrey Sports Park for an exciting contest which was all still to play for in the final 15-minutes.
At half-time Pulse led by four, but Surrey caused a storm in 3rd quarter as they took the game to Pulse coming out stronger and winning that 15-mintues by one, meaning the score heading into the final quarter was only three goals to Pulse’s advantage.
Despite Storms hard work, Pulse’s agile defensive duo of England Rose Funmi Fadoju and Lindsay Keable were too strong, making two interceptions, 20 deflections, and 11 turnovers between them to keep Storm at their lowest scoring tally of the season.
London Pulse 50 – 56 Manchester Thunder
The final match-up of the weekend was that of two teams who have already qualified for the finals, London Pulse and Manchester Thunder.
Pulse had Thunders hearts racing from the start as the home side won the first two quarters, and then drew the third leaving Thunder with some chasing to do to keep their unbeaten record alive.
It wasn’t until the last five minutes of the contest that Thunders shooters Joyce Mvula (Malawi Queen) and Eleanor Cardwell (England Rose) put on their usual Thunder performance to turn things around and take home the win.
However, despite being the eventual losing side Pulse had lots of positives to take from their performance having managed to get their full squad out on court and still taking Thunder down to the dying minutes.
One Pulse player that made a real impact once again, was England Rose Funmi Fadoju who made 10 turnovers, three deflections and eight interceptions in a dominant defensive performance.