International Player Watch – The UK’s Vitality Netball Superleague Spring Showdown

The ‘Spring Showdown’ took place in the UK’s Vitality Netball Superleague this weekend, with 10 matches taking place and all teams featuring at Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena.

Following the two-day event, Manchester Thunder remained unbeaten and now have a six-point lead on 2nd  place Loughborough Lightning, whilst London Pulse moved up to third.

It wasn’t just the top of the table teams that performed well this weekend though, at the bottom of the table both Celtic Dragons and Severn Stars were able to secure their second victories of the campaign.

Let’s shine the spotlight on some of the international stars that stood out this weekend…

Loughborough Lightning 57 – 54 Surrey Storm

Surrey Storm did not make it easy for 2nd place Loughborough Lightning in the opening game of the Spring Showdown in Birmingham, the home of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Lightning were without Ugandan shooter, Mary Cholhok and England Rose Nat Panagarry, who were side-lined due to injury and the side seemed to miss their international stars as they got off to a slow start.

Storm on the other hand, did have their Ugandan shooter in the starting line-up and once again Peace Proscovia made her presence known in the shooting circle, helping her side to an early lead.

However, a final quarter comeback from Lightning and an outstanding performance from Alice Harvey at goal keeper meant Storms strong start wasn’t enough.

Leeds Rhinos 51 – 55 Celtic Dragons

The weekend got off to a great start for Celtic Dragons as they secured their second victory of the season, with a win over a strong Leeds Rhinos side.

There were many international stars that stood out in this contest, but none so much as Wales’ Nia Jones and Georgia Rowe. Jones put on a fantastic captain’s performance as wing defence making 2 turnovers and 7 interceptions to help her side to the marginal victory.

Whilst in the shooting circle, Rowe ensured all those turnovers were worth it as she converted 40 of her 41 shots.

Manchester Thunder 73 – 51 Strathclyde Sirens

Once again Manchester Thunder showed just why they are unbeaten this season as they took on Strathclyde Sirens in their first game at the Spring Showdown.

There were international players throughout the court for the table toppers that displayed world class performances, including South Africa SPAR Protea Shadine Van Der Merwe at goal defence and shooters Eleanor Cardwell (England Rose) and Joyce Mvula (Malawi Queen) in the circle.

Cardwell added 30 goals to her season tally whilst Mvula added 33 to hers, moving them both up the seasons shooting charts.

Wasps 38 – 44 London Pulse

Next up, Wasps took on a London Pulse in what was an extremely close battle. London Pulse didn’t lose a quarter, winning the 1st, 2nd and 4th and drawing the 3rd, but the score remained extremely close at all times.

It was the accuracy of Pulses’ shooter that made a real difference with Pulse only missing 2 shots all game, compared to Wasps 9 misses.

Pulse’s Olivia Tchine scored 33 goals in the match, moving herself further up in the top 5 shooters of the season chart.

Saracens Mavericks 58 – 44 Severn Stars

In the final game of day one of the Spring Showdown weekend, Saracens Mavericks increased their chances of reaching the play-offs with a win over struggling Severn Stars.

It was a strong first half that secured Mavs the victory, with England Roses Jodie Gibson and Razia Quashie then helping their side keep the lead as they dominated in the defensive circle.

Gibson made an outstanding 9 turnovers, 7 interceptions and 5 deflections and Quashie moved into 4th on the intercept charts following her performance at goal keeper.

Team Bath 54 – 64 Leeds Rhinos

Day 2 marked the start of Round 14, and a fresh start for Leeds Rhinos who had lost to Celtic Dragons just 24 hours before.

Rhino’s took the opportunity to make amends for their performance the day before, and beat Team Bath for the first time in their history, in a match that Sky Sports named the ‘Turnaround of the Round’.

England Rose Jade Clarke was a force to be reckoned with throughout the court as she led the way for her team at centre, making 2 interceptions, 2 turnovers and 15 feeds into the circle.

In the shooting circle South Africa SPAR Protea, Sigi Burger, shone as she remained composed under the post and added 49 goals to her sides winning tally.

Celtic Dragons 52 – 56 Loughborough Lightning

Eyes then turned back to Celtic Dragons, who had secured their second win of the season the day before when they beat Leeds Rhinos.

However, a third victory proved just too much for them as they took on second place Loughbrough Lightning who were looking for their second win of the weekend.

It was clear from the result just how much Dragons have improved since the start of the season with both teams leading at different points of the penultimate quarter, compared to last time when Lightning beat Dragons 65-37 and dominated throughout the match.

Despite being on the loosing side, Trinidad and Tobago’s Shaquanda Greene-Noel stood out at goal keeper for Dragons making 5 turnovers, 3 interceptions and 3 deflections to keep her team in the game throughout.

Surrey Storm 50 – 80 Manchester Thunder

To finish off a tough weekend for Surrey Storm, who had already played 2nd in the table the day before, they took on unbeaten Manchester Thunder.

Thunder were untouchable once again, adding another 80 goals to this seasons tally. Malawi Queen Joyce Mvula and England Rose Eleanor Cardwell controlled the shooting circle for Thunder, moving up to 4th and 5th on the season’s shooting charts.

However, in-spite of the result it was Storm’s Proscovia Peace who remained top of the seasons shooting charts thanks to yet another shooting masterclass from her for, taking her tally up to 615 goals for the season so far.

London Pulse 53 – 46 Saracens Mavericks

In the penultimate game of the round London Pulse took on Saracen’s Mavericks to battle it out to move higher into the play-off positions.

Just as expected the match was a nail biter as the teams went goal-for-goal for 40 minutes, before Pulse ran away with the win.

Young England Rose, Alicia Scholes, was awarded Player of the Match after a sensational performance at wing attack.

Severn Stars 56 – 47 Wasps

In the final match of a busy weekend, Severn Stars shone as they recorded just their second victory of the season beating Wasps 56-47.

Stars standout player in this match was Wales’ Bethan Dyke, who made an impressive 24 feeds into the circle as part of her role at centre and went on to win the Player of the Match Award for her all round performance that helped her side to a vital victory.

Coming up…

The next round of the VNSL will start on Saturday 23rd April and you can view the fixtures and previous results here.

To find out more about leagues taking place in other World Netball Regions this season, visit our Domestic League page here.