Three of the four confirmed final teams, Surrey Storm, Manchester Thunder and London Pulse, were pushed all the way by their opponents in round 17 of the UK’s Netball Super League, showcasing just how competitive this league really is.
International stars shone across the 10 teams in action, and here is our take on the round…
Leeds Rhinos 56 – 72 Loughborough Lightning
Unlike the other three confirmed finals teams that had to battle hard to get a win in round 17, fellow finalists Lightning seemed to ease past Leeds Rhinos.
It was a full team effort from Lightning, who won all four quarters and were already leading 12-19 by the first break.
Uganda She Crane Mary Cholhok was clinical under the post, adding another 54 goals to her season tally which now sits at 645 putting her top of the leagues goal scoring charts.
Whilst at the other end of the court, and equally as impressive for Lightning, was England Rose Fran Williams.
Just like she has been all season, Williams was making interceptions for fun at goal defence, and following another successful game she now sits 2nd in the leagues interception charts.
Days after this match, England Netball announced their squad for the Vitality Netball World Cup 2023 and Williams was rewarded for her season long efforts with a place on the plane for the pinnacle event taking place in July.
Celtic Dragons 47 – 48 Surrey Storm
It’s been a good week for England Rose and Surrey Storm shooter Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, who scored the last second winner for Storm in Round 17 before being named as a travelling reserve for the England Rose’s Vitality Netball World Cup 2023 squad.
Having won just one game all season, Dragon’s had nothing to lose as they took on Netball Super League finalists Surrey Storm and that was clear from the first whistle as they were fearless and fiery throughout the court.
The game went goal-for-goal, with both team’s defensive circle duos doing more than enough to keep their respective team in the game.
For Dragons, that was Trinidad and Tobago’s Shaquanda Greene-Noel and Wales’ Ella Powell-Davies, whilst for Storm it was England Rose, Layla Guscoth and Hannah Knights.
The lead continuously changed hands with ball hard to come by, despite the defenders’ best efforts and in the end it was just a case of running out of time for the Dragons.
With the score sitting at 47-47, Storm took the last centre pass of the match which they were able to get straight to goal and into the safe hands of Drakeford-Lewis who then sealed the deal for Storm with her last second goal.
Team Bath 63 – 67 Manchester Thunder
After a mixed season Team Bath produced one of their best performances to date against the defending champions Manchester Thunder.
Powered on by their home crowd, Bath came flying out the blocks in the first half losing the first quarter by just one goal before winning the second quarter 21-15 to take a 5-goal lead into half time.
Welsh Feather Betsy Creak and England Rose Academy player, Sophie Kelly, shot with confidence for their Bath side and were totally unphased by the pressure put on them by this year’s finalists Thunder.
Bath seemed to carry forward that momentum into the second half, extending their lead but then Thunder introduced South Africa Spar Protea Shadine Van Der Merwe at goal keeper who made an instant impact, changing the run of play as the visitors went on to score 10 of the next 11 goals in the contest.
Once Thunder had regained control of the game and taken the lead, they showed just why they were the reigning champions as they did what it took to see out the game and take the 63-67 victory despite Bath’s best bounce back efforts.
Strathclyde Sirens 46 – 53 London Pulse
Keeping with the theme of finals teams being tested until the end, Sirens pushed Pulse all the way at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow.
In the first quarter Siren’s attacking trio of Beth Dix, Niamh McCall and Bethan Goodwin could not put a foot wrong.
Dix continued to find the two Scottish Thistle shooters, who were then clinical under post showcasing just what could be to come in Cape Town if they are both selected for Tamsin Greenway’s Thistle side.
Their consistency and accuracy paid off as they took a 3-goal lead into the first break, however it soon became evident just why Pulse are top of the table at current this season as they produced a sensational second quarter to regain control of the game.
It was time to celebrate the Pulse attacking set-up this time, with England Rose’s Jade Clarke, Chelsea Pitman, and Olivia Tchine working seamlessly together.
It was no surprise that following this match, all three of these England Rose’s were selected for their countries Vitality Netball World Cup 2023 squad.
The second half promised more the same with Siren’s going back to dominating the third quarter, which they won 12 -11 and Pulse responding when it mattered most to win the final quarter and eventually the match, 46-53.
Severn Stars 50 – 54 Saracen’s Mavericks
A strong start from Mavericks in this match ended up being enough to allow them to seek revenge on Severn Stars, who had beaten them in Round 1 by the same goal difference.
It all started with a Maverick’s Razia Quashie turnover, and from there the away side put on a fantastic first quarter defensive display which saw them lead 13-18 at the first break.
Star’s then responded in the second quarter with South Africa SPAR Protea Sigi Burger working well with Grace Namana in the shooting circle to grow closer to the visitors lead.
However, luckily for Maverick’s when things got close Quashie was on hand again with another key interception. The defender finished this match with three turnovers, three deflections and six turnovers.
With 15-minutes to go the score sat at 39-41, and despite Stars best efforts to get back into it Mavericks were not about to let this one slide as they won 50-54.