By Zara Collings
Round 10 of the Vitality Netball SuperLeague once again reminded us that we are still grappling with the knock on effects from the Covid 19 pandemic, as both Friday evening matches, Team Bath against Saracens Mavericks and Strathclyde Sirens against Seven Stars were postponed due to an insufficient number of available players.
Whilst we were light on matches in Round 9, the match ups we did have did not disappoint. London Pulse were victorious against Leeds Rhinos, pushing on in the third quarter to double Rhinos quarter score 18-9.This can, perhaps, be attributed to the change in Rhinos shooting circle, moving Spar Proteas Sigi Burger to the bench, despite shooting seventeen goals at 94%, and bringing Sienna Rushton into Goal Shooter and Brie Grierson into Goal Attack. Whilst Grierson continued to set up play and orchestrate things inside the circle, Rushton struggled to settle and this once again highlighted the difficulties of not having a set starting seven that you can revert to or base changes from. When Rushton headed to the bench after only a few minutes, it was Amy Clinton that joined the court instead of Burger. Whilst Rhinos are currently sitting sixth and statistically are very much still in contention for a top four spot, they will need to settle on a line up that will take them there. Not knowing your preferred line up at the halfway mark of the season is a worrying side for the franchise.
Conversely, Pulse were anchored yet again by another strong performance from Liv Tchine, who currently sits third in the league for the highest number of goals scored at 368. Whilst Pulse were on the wrong side of the penalty count with twelve more than their opponents, in this case it was a signal that they were right in the contest, racking up nineteen deflections across the four quarters. Perhaps more impressively, is that these nineteen are spread across six players, demonstrating the true full court pressure that Pulse apply as a unit. It is this unified defensive response that is becoming a real hallmark of the Pulse style and is proving to be a real sticking point for opponents.
The Monday night Sky match saw the two undefeated teams match up for the first time this season. Manchester Thunder proved to be victorious, with a five goal win taking them six points clear at the top of the table (Loughborough Lightning still have a game in hand due to a Covid enforced Round 1 postponement.) With Eleanor Cardwell back in the side after recovering from Covid, it was the slick Thunder attacking line we were used to seeing, with Mvula, Cardwell and Metcalf combining across the match at 89% accuracy. Conversely, Lightning’s shooting circle struggled under the pressure from the Thunder defence, with Cholhok, Clark and Liverseidge struggling with inconsistency throughout the match.
Looking at the leaderboard, only two wins separates tenth from fourth, as the battle in the middle of the table is heating up. With the second half of the season set to be even more exciting than the first, teams will have had the opportunity to observe their opponents style and strengths over the first leg and will seek to right the wrongs in their second meeting. As Covid-19 protocol continues to disrupt preparation and performance between the franchises, securing three points from each match is becoming increasingly important.
Stats leaders of the week
Goals: 47 Mary Cholhok (Lightning v Thunder)
Feeds: 21 Brie Grierson (Rhinos v Pulse)
Gains: 6 Funmi Fadoju (Pulse v Rhinos)
Deflections: 7 Funmi Fadoju (Pulse v Rhinos)
Rebounds: 4 Mary Cholhok (Lightning v Thunder)
Intercepts: 5 Funmi Fadoju (Pulse v Rhinos)
* stats unavailable from Dragons v Storm
It has been announced that Temalisi Fakahokotau (ANZ) will join Saracens Mavericks as a permanent replacement player for the injured Jameela McCarthy.
LONDON PULSE 58 def LEEDS RHINOS 44
Liv Tchine 31/35 (89%)
Sacha McDonald 13/14 (93%)
Kira Rothwell 6/7 (86%)
Berri Neil 7/8 (88%)
TOTAL 58/64 (91%)
Feeds 47 (Honey 13)
Gains 12 (Fadoju 6)
Penalties 52 (Keable 12)
Sigi Burger 17/18 (94%)
Amy Clinton 17/18 (94%)
Brie Grierson 5/7 (71%)
Sienna Rushton 5/10 (50%)
TOTAL: 44/53 (83%)
Feeds 42 (Grierson 21)
Gains 12 (Keenan 5)
Penalties 40 (Magee, Clarke 12)
Match report by Eve Cobbett
Due to covid-related postponements, Leeds Rhinos vs London Pulse was the first game of Round 10. These two relatively young sides were both looking for a win, Pulse to cement their top 4 status and Rhinos to potentially propel them into the top 4.
Quarter 1 saw the game start evenly, going goal-for-goal for the first half of the quarter. Rhinos attack end struggled with the physicality of the Pulse defenders and may feel hard done by to have not got more calls from the umpire. Regardless, Rhinos’ attackers failed to adapt and Pulse’s defenders reaped the rewards for their hard work in the form of offensive contacts and 3 second calls. Down the other end, Tuaine Keenan and Michelle Magee struggled in their defensive partnership, failing to contain Pulse’s Liv Tchine and Kira Rothwell who started this game well. Tayla Honey also started strongly, feeding Tchine in particular with huge confidence. Quarter 1 ended 9-16 to Pulse.
Rhinos started the 2nd quarter looking far more organised. Pulse’s first centre-pass was intercepted by Keenan, the Goal Keeper able to come through cleanly for the ball thanks to the diamond zone put on by Rhinos’ defenders in front of her. Pulse’s 2nd attempt at goal was also intercepted by Keenan, who positioned herself in front of Tchine and got the offensive contact call. With 5 minutes gone, Pulse finally scored their first goal of the quarter. Pulse refused to allow Rhinos to take advantage of the momentum change, however, with Lindsay Keable putting huge pressure over Rushton and Burger’s shots and forcing them into misses. Such was the defensive pressure across the court, both Rhinos and Pulse opted to make attacking change. For Rhinos, Brie Grierson moved into Goal Attack and Amelia Hall came on as Wing Attack, Sienna Rushton moving to the bench. For Pulse, Ash Dekker made way for Alicia Scholes at Wing Attack and Sacha McDonald replaced Kira Rothwell at Goal Attack. Quarter 2 eventually ended 20-26 to Pulse, although Rhinos played significantly better in quarter 2, they still trailed by 6.
Quarter 3 saw Rushton re-enter the game at Goal Shooter, however the change did not have the desired effect, Pulse’s defence winning ball early on. Rhinos looked to their bench with 5 minutes gone in the quarter, bringing Amy Clinton on to see if she could have more success against Keable. Unfortunately for Rhinos, Pulse ramped up the defensive pressure and turned over huge amounts of ball on a Rhinos’ attack end that looked to be in disarray. Up the other end, Rhinos’ defenders failed to have any impact on McDonald and Tchine’s shooting, McDonald in particular using her speed to get the better of Magee. Paige Kindred was brought on at Wing Defence to try and stop Scholes, however the young Pulse Wing Attack was too quick for Rhinos to stop.
Having got themselves 15 up, Pulse were able to make changes going into the final quarter. They emptied their bench by bringing on Jas Odeogberin at Wing Defence, Ellie Rattu at Centre and Berri Neil at Goal Shooter. Rhinos improved again in this quarter, the quarter score ending up as 15-14 to the home side. Whilst Rhinos will be pleased they were able to challenge Pulse in quarters 2 and 4, they will be disappointed with how they let Pulse get the better of them over all. Pulse, on the other hand, showed once again their young combinations should now be seen as mature and efficient units, able to calmly withstand any pressure applied by Rhinos.
MANCHESTER THUNDER 66 def LOUGHBOROUGH LIGHTNING 61
Mary Cholhok 47/53 (89%)
Ella Clark 11/14 (79%)
Suzie Liverseidge 3/4 (75%)
TOTAL 61/71 (86%)
Feeds 46 (Joseph 18)
Gains 8 (Cobden 3)
Penalties 39 (Harvey 16)
Ellie Cardwell 32/36 (89%)
Joyce Mvula 28/30 (93%)
Nat Metcalf 6/8 (75%)
TOTAL 66/74 (89%)
Feeds 44 (Metcalf 14)
Gains 7 (Almond 3)
Penalties 36 (Almond 14)
Match Report by Iona St. Joseph
SURREY STORM 54 def CELTIC DRAGONS 53
(Team . Pld . Pts . +/-)
Thunder . 10 . 30 . +129
Lightning . 9 . 24 . +114
Pulse . 10 . 21 . +77
Mavericks . 9 . 15 . +0
Storm . 10 . 15 . -17
Rhinos . 9 . 15 . -53
Bath . 9 . 12 . +20
Wasps . 10 . 9 . -21
Sirens . 9 . 9 . -35
Stars . 9 . 3 . -101
Dragons . 10 . 3 . -113
Sat 2pm Pulse v Lightning Sky (YouTube)
Sat 2pm Sirens v Bath
Sat 4pm Dragons v Thunder
Sun 4pm Storm v Stars Sky (YouTube)
Mon 5:30pm Mavericks v Wasps Sky
Mon 7pm Lightning v Rhinos
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