This week in the UK’s Netball Super League it was “International Colours Week”.
From flags, to face paint, themed drinks, and entertainment the league went all out to celebrate their international athletes.
On the court, things were just as exciting with Loughborough Lightning beating table toppers Surrey Storm, before losing to 2nd in the table London Pulse, whilst Strathclyde Sirens beat Celtic Dragons by just one goal.
Here are just some of the international stars that deserve celebrating this round…
Leeds Rhinos 51 – 53 Severn Stars
In the first clash of international week, Leeds Rhinos looked on task to take their first victory of the season as they lead by one goal with 15-minutes to go, but the Rhinos ran out of momentum in the final quarter allowing Stars to shoot in front.
Rhinos started the match the strongest of the two teams and won the first two quarters by one goal as their Future Roses’ shooters, Brie Grierson and Paige Reed, combined well and appeared to not be phased by the experienced Jo Trip they were up against in the circle.
Stars re-grouped at half-time, and looked to be ready to over-turn the score line in the third quarter as they took a marginal lead however that was soon followed by a few unforced errors which lead to Rhino’s staying in front by one.
The match continued to go goal-for-goal as the clock ran down in the final-15-minutes, until in true International round style South Africa SPAR Protea Sigi Burger stole the show, scoring two goals in the dying seconds of the match to steal stars the win and leave Rhino’s still hunting for the first victory of the season.
Team Bath 62 – 66 Saracens Mavericks
As if one comeback wasn’t enough for the netball family to be excited about, the second match of the weekend was another nail biter where the lead changed hands.
Both teams took a while to settle into the first quarter, with the match again going goal-for-goal until Team Bath managed to make a turnover over through previous England Rose Kadeen Corbin, which then lead to them going on a six-goal scoring spree, before eventually taking a 19-14 lead into the first break.
It was then time for another England Rose, Imogen Allison, to make her mark on the match as she started the second quarter with a flying interception to help Bath keep Mavericks at arms length.
With Bath running ahead Mavericks then turned to game changer Christina Shaw on their bench.
The Welsh Feather made an instant impact as she entered the court, with her side at one point in the third quarter able to get back to within one of their hosts.
However, it wasn’t until the final quarter that Mavericks really took control, as they were able to turn the score from 52-50, to 62-66 in their favour.
Loughborough Lightning 73 – 64 Surrey Storm
Lightning struck down the league leaders’ Storm at the first time of asking in their round 8 fixture, with three dominant quarters.
The hosts, powered on by their home crowd, flew out the starting blocks against a strong Storm side taking an early lead.
It didn’t take long for Lightning’s Ugandan She Crane shooter Mary Cholhok to show exactly what she came to do in this league, as she pulled off a fantastic lay-up and helped her side go into the first break leading 20-17.
The second and third quarters promised more of the same, with Cholhok and Rhea Dixon combining well in the Lightning shooting circle, whilst at the other end Lightning’s England Roses’ Francesca Williams and Alice Harvey dominated in defence and capitalised on all of Storm’s errors.
A last quarter surge from Storm showed just what they were capable of, but there was just no catching this Lightning side.
London Pulse 52 – 37 Celtic Dragons
The final match round 8 was another one where both teams took their time to settle, with unforced errors creeping in throughout the court.
It was Pulse that eventually settled first, with England Rose Zara Everitt finding her feet at goal defence in what then went on to be a great performance from the defender as she made two interceptions, seven deflections and six turnovers throughout the game.
Dragons used the first break in play to compose themselves and came into the second quarter fired up, with Trinidad & Tobago Calypso Girl Shaquanda Greene-Noel changing the game in the quarter with an interception which brought Dragons back to be within two goals of Pulse.
It wasn’t until the final quarter that Pulse managed to put the game to bed, utilising their substitutions and dominating in defence to win the match 52-37.
Saracens Mavericks 56 – 63 Manchester Thunder
Round 9 started off the same way round 8 finished; with both teams bringing the competition and battling until the final quarter.
The visitors, Manchester Thunder, weren’t phased by Saracens Mavericks sold-out home crowd as they started the match full of confidence and took a six-goal lead into the second quarter thanks to sensational shooting from SPAR Protea goal shooter Lenize Potgieter.
Potgieter has had a fantastic start to the season, which sees her now 4th in the leagues goal scoring charts with 338 goals to her name.
Whilst at the other end of the court for the defending champions, fellow SPAR Protea Shadine van der Merwe was a force to be reckoned with making the Mavericks shooters work tirelessly to create any space in the circle and ensuring Thunder always remained in front.
Despite Mavericks growing into the game and doing on to win the final quarter, it just wasn’t enough to catch firing Thunder who won the match 56-63.
Severn Stars 42 – 79 Surrey Storm
Surrey caused a Storm at Stars as they bounced back well from being struck down by Loughborough Lightning in Round 8.
Storm wasted no time in taking the lead in this match, as they at least doubled the visitors goal scoring tally in each of the first three quarters.
The high goal scoring tally in this game comes as no surprise with the shooters that Storm has on show this season; Their goal shooter, Ugandan She Crane, Proscovia Peace, is the league’s highest goal scorer with 406 goals so far this season, whilst their goal attack, England Rose Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, is the leagues, 7th highest goal scorer with 243 goals so far.
Stars made a few changes going into the final quarter which made an impact throughout court and helped them cut down the final quarter deficit, however it was too late to close the gap on Storm who won the match 42-79.
Loughborough Lightning 49 – 55 London Pulse
Whilst Storm bounced back in their second match of the weekend, Lightning failed to keep their winning streak going as they fell to the hands of London Pulse.
The victory was Pulse’s second of the weekend, after they beat Celtic Dragons 52 – 37 in Round 8.
In the first quarter, it looked as though it was Lightning that had rest and recovered the best for their double header weekend as they took an early 12-10 lead.
However, as the second quarter got underway Pulse found their rhythm and did not miss a beat as England Roses’ Chelsea Pitman and Jade Clarke moved the ball with pace using the depth and width of the court, enabling their side to take the lead into half-time.
The third quarter was then a much closer encounter, with Pulse just managing to keep a two-goal lead going into the final quarter which they then battled hard to extend to a 59-55 victory.
Celtic Dragons 41 – 42 Strathclyde Sirens
Celtic Dragons vs Strathclyde Sirens might have been the last match of a double header weekend, but it was certainly worth waiting for.
Fired on by their home crowed Dragons started the match on-top, winning the first quarter 16-10.
Sirens sparked their comeback in the third and fourth quarters, with Scottish Thistles Claire Maxwell and Niamh McCall linking up beautifully in attack, as they both gave quick and accurate first second balls to allow Sirens to get the ball to goal at speed.
The Scottish side were rewarded for their speed and accuracy as they managed to take a one goal lead into the final quarter, and eventually after a feisty final quarter battle they went on to win the match by one goal too.
Just like Sirens were rewarded for their efforts, Maxwell was also rewarded for hers as she received her second successive Player of the Match award for her stellar performance at centre and wing defence.