The 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague season continued over the weekend with ten matches across four days at the Copper Box Arena.
The teamwork shown between players, coaches, staff and volunteers helped to get the season up and running with fans able to enjoy every pass, goal and intercept live on Sky Sports.
Here’s your recap of all the action…
The weekend opened on Friday night in amazing fashion as Celtic Dragons secured their first win of the season with a 48-39 triumph over Surrey Storm.
The Welsh franchise have been steadily improving in recent weeks but didn’t have the points to show for it until now, with Player of the Match Clare Jones playing a key role in their victory.
A ruthless final quarter saw Loughborough Lightning defeat Saracens Mavericks 55-47, with Lucozade Player of the Match Mary Cholhok in typically top form.
The match was in the balance heading into the closing 12 minutes before Lightning asserted their dominance to maintain pressure on the league leaders.
Saturday began with Severn Stars claiming a 46-39 win against Surrey Storm to leapfrog their opponents in the table.
Player of the Match, Paige Reed, was exceptional in attack as Stars didn’t lose a quarter in the contest.
Atlantic House Player of the Match Niamh McCall was accurate in the circle as Strathclyde Sirens clinched a 48-38 win over London Pulse.
The damage was done in the opening quarter where Sirens led 12-6 and they kept Pulse at arm’s length for the remainder of the match.
A formidable finish helped Saracens Mavericks to a 59-39 victory over Celtic Dragons, with Chloe Essam collecting the Lucozade Player of the Match award.
Dragons were firmly in the contest for long periods but suffered in the final quarter where Mavericks fired an incredible 21 goals to secure the three points.
Leeds Rhinos posted the biggest score of the round in Sunday’s first match as they recorded a 69-51 success against Strathclyde Sirens.
Princes Square Player of the Match Brie Grierson shone in the offensive end as Dan Ryan’s team racked up 56 goals before the last quarter.
Manchester Thunder powered past a resilient London Pulse outfit in a 50-42 victory, with mid-courter Caroline O’Hanlon awarded Atlantic House Player of the Match.
Pulse led 8-6 in the opening quarter but were quickly reeled in by Thunder, who maintained control throughout despite narrowly losing the third period.
Team Bath Netball’s first game of a double-header against the 2019 grand finalists ended in a 41-37 win against Wasps.
Wasps reduced the deficit in the final 12 minutes as Bath’s defence, anchored by Player of the Match Layla Guscoth, waned somewhat but the points were already safely in the bag.
Manchester Thunder were Team Bath Netball’s next assignment the following evening and Anna Stembridge’s side prevailed 44-41 in a game that could’ve swung either way.
Thunder were heavily beaten the last time the teams met but were much improved on Monday as Vitality Rose and Netball UK Player of the Match Serena Guthrie’s performance helped tilt the result in Bath’s favour.
The race for the top four took a major twist in the final match of the round as Leeds Rhinos claimed an impressive 51-41 victory over Wasps.
Brie Grierson received her second Player of the Match award of the weekend, feeding the Rhinos shooters who hit 18 goals in the last quarter to secure the win and move them to within four points of Wasps with a game in hand.
Sky Sports pundit Pamela Cookey said of Leeds Rhinos: “That whole unit, whether it’s the attacking end or the defensive end, they know what they’re doing and they work so well with each other. Individuals step up when they need to and then they come back into the mould and they do it again as a group.”
Head to the Vitality Netball Superleague website for upcoming fixture details.