It was the penultimate round of action in the UK’s Netball Super League this weekend, and it was all about London Pulse as they took the opportunity to finish the regular season top of the table with both hands, defeating fellow semi-finalists Lightning.
Elsewhere in the league, Dragons won the Celtic Clash and Rhino’s secured their first back-to-back victories of the season.
As always, international stars played a key part in all the matched and here is our International Player Watch…
Sirens 37 – 50 Dragons
First up, was the Celtic Clash between Scottish based Sirens and Welsh side Dragons, and this time round it was the Dragon that slayed the Sirens.
From the very first whistle in Scotland, Dragons were on fire scoring the first three goals of the game before taking a first quarter victory of 8-10.
The second and third quarters then promised more of the same, with Dragons once again quick out the blocks scoring consecutive goals to extend their lead on both occasions.
It might have been the Dragon’s shooters converting their chances, but it was thanks to their international defensive line-up of Ella Powell-Davies (Wales), Clare Jones (Wales) and Shaquanda Greene-Noel (Trinidad & Tobago) that they were ever able to get the opportunities to shoot as the defenders battled and won ball throughout the court.
Trinidad & Tobago Calypso Girl Greene-Noel was untouchable at goal keeper, as she made a staggering 14 turnovers, as well as four interceptions and three deflections.
It was not until the fourth quarter that Siren’s made their mark, as the final 15-minutes went goal-for-goal before the home side won the quarter by one, but it was too little too late to catch the Dragons who won the match 37-50.
Thunder 75 – 48 Mavericks
The Manchester Thunder home-crowd were not disappointed by their teams final home performance of the year, as they eased past Mavericks to take a 75-48 victory.
The current reigning champions Thunder set the tone for the match within the first 15-minutes, as they netted 17 goals compared to Mavericks nine.
The England Rose’s heavy centre court, including Vitality Netball World Cup 2023 England squad members Natalie Metcalf and Amy Carter, moved the ball with such ease throughout the court.
Whilst in the Thunder defensive end Josie Huckle proved a force to be reckoned with, as no Maverick’s change was able to compete with her on the day.
Mavericks strongest quarter was the second, as they tried to bounce back from their first quarter deficit moving New Zealand born Lisa Mather into wing defence, and Beth Ecuyer-Dale coming on at centre.
The changes did make an impact, as the teams drew the second quarter 16-16, but that only fired Thunder on to have their strongest quarter yet in the third winning it 23-10 and putting the game all but to bed.
Following 60-minutes of netball Thunder eventually won 75-48.
Pulse 61 – 58 Lightning
Pulse secured the league’s top spot this weekend with a marginal win over Lightning.
Both Lightning and Pulse have already confirmed their spots in this year semi-finals, however there was still the league top spot to secure and a home semi-final too, and it was Pulse that secured both following this victory.
It was not an easy ride for the London based side though, with Lightning fighting back at every given opportunity.
The home side were one goal to the good at the first break, and in the second quarter the match continued to go goal-for-goal until Pulse star and England Rose Funmi Fadoju got an all-important tip which sent Pulse on their way to victory as they won the period 17-13.
Pulse started the third quarter how they finished the second, going on a goal scoring flurry to extend their lead to eight goals.
However, Lightning were not about to make this easy for them with England Rose Fran Williams really playing her part in defence to keep Lightning’s comeback hopes alive for another quarter as the score sat at 48-42 going into the final break.
As expected, when the teams returned to court for the last time in this match a battle commenced, with players picking up deflections, tips and turnovers throughout the court on both teams.
Lightning went on to win the quarter, with Williams having three turnovers, two deflections and three interceptions to her name, but it was still Pulse that won the match having just about done enough earlier in the match.
Stars 52 – 59 Rhinos
Rhinos continued their end of season charge in Round 19, as they secured back-to-back wins for the first time this season with their victory over Stars.
As expected, between two of the leagues mid table teams, this one was a close encounter from the start going goal-for-goal until Stars made the first interception of the game which their South Africa SPAR Protea shooter, Sigi Burger, made no mistake of converting.
Stars then extended their lead to go into the first break of play 16-12 to the good, but the Rhino’s then came out charging in the second quarter.
Vicki Oyesola once again, like so often this season, proved the difference for Rhino’s this quarter as she made her presence known in the shooting circle making key interceptions that lead the away side on their way to an eventual 13-20 quarter victory.
The match was far from over though with the third quarter going goal-for-goal, leaving all the hard-work left to do in the final 15-minutes as Rhinos led by just one goal again.
Rhino’s then went on their final run of the game, with their Welsh Feather Nia Jones vocal and leading the way at wing defence as she finished the match with four turnovers and three interceptions, which all contributed to her Rhino’s team taking an eventual 52-59 victory.