Reigning Superleague champions Wasps continued to set the pace in the 2019 competition, with a 57-46 away win to TeamBath. Despite missing inspirational co-captain Serena Guthrie due to injury, Bath brought the fight to the champions from the opening whistle, and with Australian shooter Beryl Friday netting some impressive midrange efforts, led by three midway through the first period, before Wasps settled and drew level 11 all at the first break.
Wasps upped the defensive pressure throughout the court for the second quarter, and with Bongi Msomi and Jade Clarke combining at pace to drive to the circle edge, the champions started to edge ahead. Rachel Dunn and Katie Harris grew in confidence, and as Wasps outscored their hosts 13-1 midway through the quarter, the Bath cause seemed lost. However, with another Aussie, Kim Commane replacing Friday with five minutes to play in the half, the home side rallied, trailing 28-18 at half time.
The second half started with further signs of a Bath resurgence, as Commane and Drakeford Lewis worked some clever angles to find space for a clear shot, netting five of the quarter’s first six goals. However, injuries to GD Charlie Curtis and WD Imogen Allison, who had been at her defensively stifling best, slowed the Bath impetus, and Wasps settled to reestablish a ten goal lead with 15 minutes to play.
Bath came again at the start of the final period, lifted by some sharpshooting by Commane and a very vocal crowd at the Sports Training Village, but five goals was as close as the former champions could come. But Wasps refused to be unsettled, and with some quality drives through midcourt by the indefatigable Clarke, pulled ahead again to take a hard fought eleven goal win.
Bath must now regroup ahead of next week’s home fixture against Manchester Thunder, who returned to winning ways in round seven with an impressive 83-56 win away to Celtic Dragons.
Thunder showed no hangover from last week’s surprise loss to Loughborough Lightning, and, after a sluggish start, established their usual fast, flat and precise game plan to leave Dragons frequently chasing the play as Leota and Carter dazzled in the midcourt to release shooters Mvula and Turner into space for a simple shot.
Thunder led by eight at the first break, and nine at half time, but despite coach Karen Greig rotating her line up for the second half, Dragons could find no way to stop Thunder. By the final quarter, the game had become a masterclass in attacking netball, with Caroline O’Hanlon (on for Carter) and Leota turning up the pace and leaving the Dragons defence without answers.
Thunder scored 25 goals in their dominant final quarter to dismiss any niggles from last week’s loss – on this form, TeamBath may find them unstoppable next week.
London Pulse remain anchored to the bottom of the table, after a 65-37 loss to Saracens Mavericks, a result which pushes the former champions level on points with Manchester Thunder in second place in the table.
After a sluggish start, Mavericks found their rhythm first on attack, and with the Corbin sisters finding shooter George Fisher with relative ease, their team led 15-10 at the first interval and 32-23 at half time. The pace from the Mavericks attack was relentless, while in defence the combination of Trip, Keable and Marshall were unforgiving, snapping up loose passes from a Pulse frontline that seemed to lack confidence and cohesion.
The gap had stretched to 47-31 at three quarter time, and with no let up in sight, the final period went to Mavs 18-6. Pulse coach Te Aroha Keenan is still looking for a consistent performance from her line up as the new franchise continues to find it tough.
Severn Stars travelled to Glasgow seeking a vital win, and were rewarded with an impressive 56-37 victory over Strathclyde Sirens. From the first whistle, Stars were in no mood to be denied victory, and with Stars 6ft 5” Welsh international Georgia Rowe finding the net from all over the circle, the first quarter went the way of the visitors 18-12.
The second quarter was more of the same, and despite the best efforts of the Scottish side, Stars defenders Cook, Ward and Powell Davies were in no mood to be defeated, frequently intercepting passes intended for Sirens’ star shooter Cat Tuivaiti.
The scoreboard continued to turn in Stars favour, leading 36-20 at half time, and although Tuivaiti ended the game with a 100% shooting record, the tireless efforts of Ward and Cook limited the Sirens sharpshooter to only 20 attempts for the game.
At three quarter time, the lead had moved to 48-29 in Stars favour, and coach Sam Bird took the opportunity to give her bench players, including 17 year old debutante Beth Gabriel, a run out. Despite the changed line up, the scoreboard kept moving in favour of the visitors, and Stars took an impressive win that puts them seventh in the table.
After showing some impressive form in recent weeks, Surrey Storm were in confident mood when they welcomed Loughborough Lightning to the Surrey Sports Park in the final match of the round. However, last season’s runners up Loughborough were themselves in positive mood, after shocking Manchester Thunder in the last round of games, and the first quarter was a spirited, hotly contested affair which the home side edged by a single goal, 13-12.
However, Loughborough emerged at the break with more purpose, and with shooter Mary Cholhok (perhaps the emerging name of the season) settling into a scoring rhythm, the Midlands-based side pushed out to 31-24 at half time.
The second half became increasingly physical as Storm allowed frustration to unsettle their game plan: for Lightning, the midcourt pairing of Panagarry and Joseph was relentless in taking advantage of Storm’s mistakes, and Cholhok repaid them with some clinical finishing. Lightning took the win 66-50 and moved into fourth place in the league table – in this sort of mood, the Loughborough team looks unstoppable.