Second half comebacks, marginal victories and dominant defending Round 18 of the UK’s Netball Super League had it all on offer with international stars playing their part in every match.
Here is this weeks’ International Player Watch…
Manchester Thunder 73 – 51 Severn Stars
Manchester Thunder came storming into this game, dominating in defence from the first whistle.
Amy Carter, who has been selected as a reserve for the England Netball squad for the Vitality Netball World Cup 2023, had a fantastic first quarter at centre making an interception at the end of the first period to allow her team to take an 11 goal lead into the first break.
It was not until the third quarter, when both teams made some changes, that Stars were really able to get a foot hold in the game, but even still Thunder did not look threatened.
The Thunder defensive set-up of Emma Dovey and Josie Huckle were untouchable, whilst their South Africa SPAR Protea shooter Lenize Potgieter missed just one shot all game before being subbed off with 7-minutes to go.
A better finish from Stars saw them draw the last quarter 17-17, but Thunder still took a comfortable 73-51 win.
Celtic Dragons 53 – 71 London Pulse
A full team performance from Pulse, where Sam Bird utilised her whole bench, saw them grind out a win against Celtic Dragons.
Despite Pulse being the confirmed finalists, it was Dragons that started this match the strongest taking an early 6-3 lead, Pulse soon responded though with a flurry of goals from England Rose’s Olivia Tchine and Berri Neil to bring the score back to 15-17.
The second quarter then followed the same pattern, with Dragons starting the strongest, bringing the score back level, before Pulse showed their strength and resilience to pull back in front.
Bird’s side started the second half much stronger, with another of their England Rose’s, Zara Everitt, continuing to chaos havoc in Dragons attacking circle as she made six turnovers and five interceptions to help her side pull away and take a 53-71 win.
Surrey Storm 46 – 64 Loughborough Lightning
Loughborough Lightning completed a season double over fellow league finalists Surrey Storm this weekend, after a first quarter masterclass saw them ease to victory.
The Lightning attacking circle combination of Uganda She Crane Mary Cholhok and Rhea Dixon looked seamless in the first quarter, with Cholhok being found with ease and Dixon working hard off the ball to create the space.
It comes as no surprise that by the third quarter Cholhok had scored an impressive 45-goals, adding to her season tally which now sits at 699 making her the highest goal scorer of the season so far.
With 15-minutes to go Lightning lead by as many goals, but that did not slow them down as they went on to win the last quarter 9-12 and the match 46-64.
Leeds Rhinos 59 – 55 Team Bath
Unlike the first three games this round where clear winners emerged early on, in this match between Leeds Rhinos and Team Bath the result could have gone either way.
In the first half Team Bath managed to give themselves a 15-goal cushion, with the shooting combination of Welsh Feather, Betsy Creak and Future Rose, Sophie Kelly working really well together.
However, Rhinos came out charging in the second half led by their captain and Northern Ireland Warrior Caroline O’Hanlon who teamed up well with impactful substitute Paige Reed to rock the Bath boat.
Their hard work then paid off as Leeds levelled the game with a sensational come-back and from then on it went goal-for-goal.
Rhino’s Vicki Oyesola made some curial interceptions in the final 15-mintues, taking her tally for the match up to 4 intercepts, and helping her side edge past Bath to take an impressive 59-55 victory.
Saracens Mavericks 54 – 57 Team Bath
Just 48 hours after playing Leeds Rhino’s, Team Bath were involved in another close encounter, however this time it was Bath that came out victorious against Saracen’s Mavericks securing their first away win of the season.
Throughout the match hardly anything could separate these two sides who were continuously going goal-for-goal for 50 minutes, until Bath managed to pull away in the very closing stages.
It was fantastic pressure from Bath’s Jayda Pechova and Malawi Queen Caroline Mtukule that caused Maverick’s to begin to make errors, whilst at the other end Welsh Feather Betsy Creak and Kadeen Corbin capitalised on these errors and pushed their team over the line with a 54-57 victory.