International Player Watch – Round 9 of the UK’s Vitality Netball Superleague

Round 9 of the Vitality Netball Superleague did not disappoint this weekend, with some close contests and some high scores across the board.

It was the first quarter that seemed the most important in this weekend’s matches, with Sirens, Rhino’s, Thunder, Wasps and Storm all securing victories after finishing the first 15 minutes on top.

Let’s take a look at some of the international stars that made a difference…

Strathclyde Sirens 51 – 41 Celtic Dragons

The weekend started in Scotland as Sirens welcomed Dragons to the Emirate Arena. A strong start from the home side saw them end the first 15 minutes with a 4-goal lead and go into half time with a 10-goal lead. A strong defensive performance from Sirens and Malawi Queen Towera Vinkhumbo at goal keeper, who got 5 interceptions and 7 turnovers, helped ensure that the home side had done enough to go on and win the game 51-41 despite Dragons last quarter comeback. Vinkhumbo now tops the league table for the most interceptions this season.

Saracens Mavericks 51 – 53 Leeds Rhinos

It was another first quarter masterclass that secured the victory in this game, with Rhino’s coming out strong and taking a 4-goal lead into the second 15 minutes. Mavericks were without South Africa SPAR Protea, Ine-Mari Venter in the shooting circle, due to a calf injury. Venter is currently 5th in the leagues ‘top goal scorers chart’ and will be a big miss for Mavericks as she spends the next few weeks sidelined. One SPAR Protea that did take to court and make a difference was Sigi Burger, who was in the shooting circle alongside England’s Sienna Rushton for Rhino’s. The duo only missed 2 shots between them, compared to Mavericks 9 missed chances, which cost them the game as Rhino’s went on to win 51-53.

Manchester Thunder 51 – 48 London Pulse

Manchester Thunder were put to the test in Round 9, by their visitors London Pulse. Despite Thunder coming away with the win to maintain their unbeaten record, Pulse did manage to keep them to their lowest goal tally so far of 51, due to their strong defensive dynamic of England Rose Funmi Fadoju and Lindsay Keable. Fadoju now tops the league chart for the most turnovers this season at 56. However, despite their defensive efforts Thunder showcased just why they are unbeaten and the depth they have in their squad, as they were without England Rose Eleanor Cardwell meaning fellow Rose Nat Metcalf joined Malawi Queen Joyce Mvula in the circle and the duo did not disappoint, with Mvula scoring 45 goals to move her up to 4th in the ‘most goals scored’ chart.

Severn Stars 56 – 70 Loughborough Lightning

Despite what the final score line may suggest Stars started this match very strong, with the return of New Zealand Silver Fern Cat Tuivaiti to their shooting circle bringing them  new found confidence and helping them to win the first quarter by one goal. However, Lightning soon found their rhythm in quarter two, with South Africa SPAR Protea Zanele Vimbela stepping up to the plate making 4 turnovers and 8 deflections. At the other end of the court for Lightning, Ugandan shooter Mary Cholhok converted 52 shots, reminding her team why she is second in the leagues shooting charts for 2022 and helping to secure them a 56-70 victory which means they remain unbeaten this season. 

Wasps 62 – 50 Team Bath

Next up in the penultimate game of the round, but only their first of Round 9, was Wasps. Mel Mansfield’s Wasps side have had a tough start to the season as they have lost 6 of their 9 games, and they took on Team Bath side who had also been struggling of recent and were without key players such as England Rose Layla Guscoth due to COVID. Just like in the other matches this weekend, it was the first quarter that proved the most important for Wasps with them leading 17-10 at the break and from then on Wasps commanded the game never really letting Team Bath back into it. Scottish Thistle Iona Christian was crucial in attack as her consistently well-placed feeds into the circle allowed Rachel Dunn and Lucy Parize the opportunity to add goals to the tally and Wasps to win 62-50.  

Surrey Storm 67 – 59 Wasps

The weekend wasn’t over yet for Wasps, who then took a trip to Surrey Storm to play for the Tom Reseigh Trophy. In true Round 9 fashion Surrey Storm won the first quarter by six, setting themselves up to go on and win the match 67-59. Australia born Leah Middleton made a massive contribution to Storm’s victory as she made 8 turnovers and 4 interceptions at goal keeper, whilst working alongside Zimbabwe Gem Felisitus Kwangwa in the defensive circle. Middleton now sits 4th in the ‘most turnovers’ league charts. Just in front of the defensive duo, Northern Ireland’s Niamh Cooper was in wing defence for Storm, and she added another two turnovers to the tally, as Storm went on to win the match 67-59 and move up to 7th in the table, above Wasps at 8th.

Round 10 of the VNSL will begin on Friday 25th March with 5 matches taking place across the weekend, you can view the full fixture list here.

To find out more about other international leagues taking place 

To view all the previous results and view the up-and-coming fixtures, click here.

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