Rounds 14 and 15 saw the UK’s Netball Super League celebrate its Pride Rounds, championing the LGBTQ+ community in netball.
London Pulse and Loughborough Lightning took full advantage of the double-header weekend with two wins as Pulse secure a top four finish.
Here are just some of the international players that stood out…
Celtic Dragons 54 – 59 Saracens Mavericks
The home side started the match well with Wales international Ella Powell-Davies claiming interceptions to give her side a two-goal lead going into the second quarter.
However, Mavericks then took control of the match with their defensive duo of Razia Quashie and Jodie Gibson combining well as they claimed three intercepts and five deflections between them to give Mavericks a three-goal advantage at half-time.
Celtic Dragons showed fight as they drew the third quarter and levelled the score in the final quarter, however Sasha Corbin showed her centre court experience with 22 feeds as Mavericks extended their lead to win by five goals.
Leeds Rhinos 49 – 45 Strathclyde Sirens
There was not much to separate the sides in the second match of Round 14 as both teams had narrow leads for periods in the game.
Rhinos made a solid start to the match with England Rose Vicki Oyesola ensuring all rebounds were hers and also looking to hunt down ball for Rhinos. Oyesola finished the match with one interception, six deflections and six turnovers as the Rhinos led by two at the first break.
The second quarter ebbed and flowed as Rhinos threatened to pull away before being pegged back by Sirens. At half-time just one goal separated the sides.
Scottish Thistle Niamh McCall was putting in a strong performance for the Sirens at goal attack as she netted 25 goals from 26 attempts as well as providing seven feeds with the third quarter ending a draw meaning it was all to play for in the final 15.
Oyesola continued to gather every rebound as the Rhinos grew in confidence in the final 15 minutes and were roared to a four-goal victory from the home crowd.
Oyesola very deservingly picked up the Player of the Match award as Rhinos claim their second win of the season.
Loughborough Lightning 65 – 57 Manchester Thunder
Lightning secured an impressive win over defending champions Manchester Thunder for the first time in four seasons in the third match of Round 14.
The match had an even start with the scores level after the first 15 minutes, but Loughborough secured a two-goal lead in the second quarter with persistent defensive pressure from Alice Harvey and Fran Williams forcing the Thunder attack into errors.
Lightning seemed to grow in confidence in the second half with Nat Panagarry covering all areas of the court providing 30 feeds into the shooters whilst also claiming two deflections through her defensive work as Lightning extended their lead to seven goals.
The final quarter was a battle, but Uganda international Mary Cholhok remained dominant under the post for Lightning as she scored an impressive 60 goals and sits at the top of the league’s top goal scorer chart as this victory took Lightning ahead of Thunder in the table.
Surrey Storm 50 – 59 London Pulse
London Pulse secured a playoff place with six rounds of the regular season still to play with a strong win against their closest rivals Surrey Storm.
Pulse started this match well with England Rose Olivia Tchine proving tricky to stop as she was consistently available for her side and shooting with accuracy. Tchine scored an impressive 42 goals during the match and is steadily climbing the league’s top goalscorer chart.
Pulse showed their title credentials in the third quarter with Ellie Rattu making an impact as a substitute securing several crucial interventions as Pulse outscored Storm 20 – 11 in the quarter. Rattu claimed one intercept, two deflections and two turnovers in just 30 minutes.
Storm were unable to fight back and ultimately it was the third quarter that cost them.
Severn Stars 62 – 56 Celtic Dragons
The first match of Round 15 saw Severn Stars come flying out of the traps in front of a loud home crowd as they opened up a seven-goal lead in the opening stages.
South Africa’s Sigrid Burger impressed again for the Stars and was playing full of confidence as she converted her early opportunities to help Stars lead by three at the first break.
Dragons responded well with Trinidad and Tobago international Shaquanda Greene-Noel challenging for every ball, however unforced errors from the away side led to Stars extending their lead to 32 – 23 at half-time.
Greene-Noel continued to cause the Stars attack problems and she was crucial to the Dragons reducing the Stars lead to just five with 15 minutes remaining. Greene-Noel ended the match with four intercepts, four deflections and eight turnovers and sits second in the leagues most intercepts chart.
Despite Dragons showing fight, it was the home side that secured all three points with a 62 – 56 goal victory.
Saracens Mavericks 50 – 62 Loughborough Lightning
The second match of Round 15 was a game of two halves with Lightning dominating the first half before Mavericks rallied in the final two quarters.
It was all too easy for the Lightning attack at the start of this match as they raced into a 20 – 8 goal lead after 15 minutes. Uganda’s Mary Cholhok impressed yet again at goal shooter scoring an impressive 38 goals in 30 minutes.
Lightning’s centre court duo of England internationals Natalie Panagarry and Hannah Joseph were pivotal in their team’s transition from defence to attack as they led 42 – 19 at half-time.
Mavericks looked like a different team in the second half and showed their fighting spirit. England’s Razia Quashie was awarded the Gilbert Netball Player of the Match due to her second half performance as she claimed five turnovers, four intercepts and two deflections.
Mavericks won the second half by eleven goals, but Lightning’s dominant first half meant that they clinched the win by 12 goals.
Manchester Thunder 49 – 59 London Pulse
England’s Jade Clarke, Chelsea Pitman and Olivia Tchine’s connection seems to be growing stronger in each match as they started the match full of confidence and made it difficult for the Thunder defence.
At half-time Pulse led by just three goals, but they came out firing in the third quarter with England Rose Funmi Fadoju coming into the game and claiming intercepts and deflections. Fadoju finished the match with three intercepts, 11 deflections and seven turnovers and sits at the top of the league’s deflections chart.
Thunder did not let their heads drop with England’s Natalie Metcalf and South Africa’s Lenize Potgieter combining well to win the final quarter. This result means that Pulse now sit top of the table whilst Thunder sit 4th.
Strathclyde Sirens 69 – 47 Team Bath Netball
Just one place separated the sides in the Netball Super League table before this match took place and it was Sirens that started the strongest.
Their Scottish shooting duo of Bethan Goodwin and Niamh McCall combined well from the first whistle as the Sirens claimed a 19 – 11 lead after the first 15 minutes.
The Sirens kept the pressure on Team Bath in the second quarter with their Malawi Queen Towera Vinkhumbo at goal keeper making it hard work for Team Bath to get the ball to their shooters. Vinkhumbo finished the match with six intercepts, three deflections and 11 turnovers and sits top of the league’s most intercepts chart as Sirens went into half-time leading 34 – 22.
With Goodwin and McCall rarely missing the target, Sirens continued to build on their lead and secured an impressive 69 – 47 win.