Roses in Focus: VNSL Spring Showdown, ANZ Round Six and SSN Round Four & Five

Celtic Dragons v Loughborough Lightning - 17/04/2022 - Credit: Ben Lumley

Fans in attendance at Spring Showdown were treated to two rounds of non-stop Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) action as all clubs travelled to Resorts World Arena, Birmingham.

In the sixth round of the ANZ Premiership, George Fisher continued to display excellent accuracy in front of goal as her side added another win to their record.

Round Four and Five of Suncorp Super Netball saw Eboni Usoro-Brown’s Queensland Firebirds secure victory and Helen Housby involved in an edge-of-your-seat match with just one goal deciding the outcome of the fixture.

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Here’s how the Vitality Roses got on in all competitions this weekend…


Spring Showdown Day One: VNSL Round 13

The first match of the double header weekend saw Loughborough Lightning face Surrey Storm. The last time these sides came against each other was in a Round Four matchup which ended 56-72 in favour of Lightning.

With the Surrey side entering this match aiming to climb the table and Lightning knocking on the door of league-leaders Manchester Thunder, these teams left it all on the court.

Lightning took the first centre pass which was quickly worked up the court into the hands of Ella Clark who opened the scoring, but Storm responded at pace, quickly adding a goal to their tally.

At the end of a fast-paced first quarter, Storm had established a four-goal advantage (12-16).

Lightning earned a turnover shortly after the centre pass and Ella Clark again found the goal.

Thanks to the playmaking ability of Hannah Joseph, Lightning were able to stretch themselves to a 30-24 lead entering the half-time break.

The third quarter saw Storm score highly, adding 18 goals as Lightning netted nine, turning the score to 39-42 in their favour.

In the fourth quarter, Lightning applied heavy pressure on Storm. Fran Williams made it difficult for Storm’s attack, earning four turnovers and three intercepts.

Clark continued to put her shots away well and totalled 40 goals, with the final score reading 57-54 to Lightning as the buzzer signalled full time.

Jade Clarke took the first centre pass for Leeds Rhinos in their fixture against Celtic Dragons, and after an early turnover for the Welsh side, they were first to score.

After a goal-for-goal performance from both sides, Rhinos led at the close of the first quarter (16-14).

Jade Clarke got the second quarter underway with a pinpoint pass into Brie Grierson who fed it into the circle.

Dragons continued to display their hunger for the win and responded well, moving the ball up the court with pace and accuracy. At the halfway stage of the match, both teams were level on 28 goals.

The third quarter saw Sienna Rushton come on in place of Grierson in the wing attack position.

Both teams were looking to pull away but Dragons struggled to extend a lead due to Vicki Oyesola’s presence in defence as she notched up seven deflections.

At the end of the third quarter, the score was 40-39 to Rhinos.

Dragons levelled the score early in the fourth quarter and the match continued to go goal-for-goal, Clarke continued to urge her team on and create chances, providing seven feeds into the circle.

At the end of an intense hour of action, it was Dragons who were able to secure their second victory of the season (51-55).

Manchester Thunder came out as winners in their fixture against Scottish side Strathclyde Sirens.

Thunder’s Laura Malcolm took the first centre pass and at the end of the first 15 minutes, her side had earned a 21-11 lead.

Thunder extended their advantage in the second quarter, thanks to some accurate shooting by Eleanor Cardwell who totalled 30 goals.

At the halfway break, the score was 40-19 to the Manchester side.

Thunder continued to pressure Sirens for the remainder of the match but Sirens continued to battle it out and outscored Thunder by two goals in the final quarter. It was too late for them to turn the tables as the match finished 73-51 in Thunder’s favour, continuing their unbeaten run.

London Pulse won their matchup against Wasps, after an hour of closely-contested game play. Olivia Tchine’s 33 goals helped the London side sail to victory at the end of the fourth quarter (38-44).

Saracens Mavericks were the victors in their fixture against Wasps. After a high-energy performance from both teams, Mavericks were able to push out a six-goal advantage at the final whistle (58-44). Gabriella Marshall recorded seven feeds for Mavericks as Razia Quashie helped to keep Wasps quiet, making two key intercepts and three vital turnovers for her side.


Spring Showdown Day Two: VNSL Round 14

Day two of Spring Showdown began with a matchup between Team Bath and Leeds Rhinos. After their defeat to Celtic Dragons in Saturday’s fixture, Rhinos came out quickly, looking to prove themselves. The first centre pass from Rhinos’ Jade Clarke was quickly fired into the hands of Brie Grierson who played it into the circle and the shot was put away well.

At the end of the first quarter, the score was 13-17 in favour of Rhinos.

The Bath-based side opened the scoring in the second quarter following some great interplay between Imogen Allison and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis. Rhinos looked to counter quickly but Allison, who had moved into the wing attack position, made it difficult for Rhinos as she intercepted an over the top pass from Grierson. With just five minutes of the quarter left to play, Vicki Oyesola was substituted after a heavy fall whilst defending the feed into the circle.

At the halfway mark, the score was four goals in favour of the Leeds side (31-35).

Oyesola returned to the court to start the third quarter and made an immediate impact, asking questions of the Team Bath attack as she earned six turnovers.

Also displaying defensive prowess, Team Bath’s Layla Guscoth caused trouble for Rhinos as she amassed seven huge deflections for her team but at the end of the third quarter, Bath were still trailing (40-43).

The final quarter of action saw Rhinos extend their lead to ten goals and despite the efforts of Guscoth and Allison, it wasn’t meant to be for their team as Rhinos took the victory (54-64).

Loughborough Lightning secured a narrow victory in their matchup against Celtic Dragons. Following both teams’ success in the previous day’s fixtures, both sides began confidently with Lightning’s Ella Clark opening the scoring and Dragons fighting back immediately. The majority of the first quarter was closely contested until Lightning netted a number of goals in quick succession to edge a 16-11 lead at the end of the quarter.

Dragons began the second quarter tenaciously looking to reduce the goal deficit but Lightning’s Beth Cobden was determined to stay in control of the match. She earned three key turnovers for her side and made it hard for Dragons to advance up the court.

As both teams left the court for the half-time break, the score read 22-26 to Lightning.

Dragons turned the scoreline in their favour early in the third quarter and attained a one-goal lead but Lightning quickly got themselves back on track, inspired by a huge defensive rebound from Fran Wiliams. They levelled the score and after two unanswered goals, they took the lead, going into the final quarter 39-41.

It was an exhilarating end-to-end final quarter to close the game. Dragons continued to move the ball around well with great vision and interplay up the court but Lightning continued to create chances, notably Hannah Joseph who fired 29 feeds into the circle.

Thanks to Clark’s composure in front of goal, the Loughborough side were able to extend their lead to 52-56 at the final whistle.

Ella Clark was awarded Vitality Player of the Match for her performance as she netted 33 goals.

Manchester Thunder continued their season undefeated after running out a thirty-goal lead against Surrey Storm.

Thunder’s Nat Metcalf displayed her playmaking ability as she noted 37 feeds, many of which were fired into the hands of attacking partner Eleanor Cardwell, who scored 47 in this match.

Despite the determination of the Surrey side, they struggled to find their footing in the match as Thunder secured a 50-80 victory.


London Pulse faced Saracens Mavericks in another end-to-end display. From the start, both sides were looking to prove themselves and challenged every ball played. Mavericks turned over possession from the first centre pass and Razia Quashie sent the ball up the court. Mavericks then scored three in quick succession to ascertain a narrow lead.

Not to be ruled out, Pulse countered well, Olivia Tchine opened the scoring for her side and after a flurry of goals at the end of the first quarter, the teams were all square (13-13).

The match continued in a high-intensity fashion. Pulse’s Jayda Pechova helped to minimise Mavericks’ attack, earning two vital interceptions for her side.

Mavericks continued to battle it out into halftime and they entered the break leading by one (26-27).

The third quarter saw a change for Mavericks with Gabby Marshall taking to the court in the wing attack position.

At the end of the third quarter, Pulse held the lead (38-34).

The final quarter of action saw both teams put on a great display. Tchine continued to shoot accurately and totalled 47 goals, while Quashie continued to put it all on the line with three well-worked turnovers but at the end of the final 15 minutes, it was Pulse who had pushed out a 53-46 lead.

The final match of Spring Showdown saw Liana Leota’s Severn Stars secure victory over Wasps.

Stars took a 56-47 win which saw them double their number of wins and take the three points.


ANZ Round Six

George Fisher’s side Southern Steel continued their success as they came out on top in their Round Six meeting against Northern Mystics.

Fisher scored 41 goals to help her side achieve a 64-59 win.

SSN Round Four & Five

Melbourne Vixens faced Stacey Francis-Bayman’s West Coast Fever in the first fixture of the fourth round.

Both teams displayed passion and agility from the offset but it was Vixens who walked away with the win (75-66).

Eboni Usoro-Brown’s Queensland Firebirds secured a 59-72 win over Jo Harten’s GIANTS Netball. Usoro-Brown secured eight gains to support Firebird’s victory.

Collingwood Magpies took the win in their matchup against Sunshine Coast Lightning as Geva Mentor’s Magpies ran out 74-64 victors.

After a thrilling fixture that was fought until the final moments, Helen Housby’s edged out Adelaide Thunderbirds by one goal. Housby netted 28 goals and secured seven turnovers for her side to contribute to their 44-45 victory.

Round 5 saw Jo Harten’s Giants Netball face Collingwood Magpies, Harten scored all 50 of her attempted shots to aid her team’s 76-61 victory.

Stacey Francis-Bayman’s West Coast Fever took the win in their fixture against NSW Swifts, despite Housby earning 13 Turnovers for her side, Fever ended the match with an 18 goal lead (76-58).

Eboni Usoro-Brown’s Queensland Firebirds added another win to their record after their meeting with Adelaide Thunderbirds, at the final whistle, Firebirds had earnt themselves a ten goal advantage (60-50).



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