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. 


Pulse’s Lindsay Keable was a star in defence against Rhinos. Image: Morgan Harlow




London Pulse 

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)

Leeds Rhinos 

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.   


Loughborough Lightning 

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)

Manchester Thunder 

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


It was set to be the fixture of the round as the only two unbeaten teams faced off at the top of the ladder.
No matter how you wanted to frame this game, whether it was title holders Lightning vs three-time champions Thunder; the match up between shooting behemoths Mary Cholhok vs Joyce Mvula; or the battle of the wings in Beth Cobden vs Nat Metcalf, it was going to be a good one.
Looking at the ladder, it was always going to be too close to call. Both teams were undefeated going into this match up, and with Thunder’s confidence queen Ellie Cardwell on the bench following the post- Covid ‘return to play’ protocols, it was tricky to pick who would take the spoils.
What worked?
Thunder’s connections worked well from the get go, really setting out their game plan and putting on the defensive pressure. The Lightning attack seemed taken aback by the attention of Laura Malcolm, Shadine Van Der Merwe and Kerry Almond, who helped Thunder push out to a 6-1 lead in the opening stages and made it really difficult for the Lightning attack to establish a rhythm. Between them, Almond and Van Der Merwe picked up two intercepts, seven deflections and four gains throughout the game thanks to the relentless pressure.
In the mid-court, the ever consistent Caroline O’Hanlon was the engine for the Thunder side, and young gun Lois Pearson stood up in wing attack. It’s starting to sound like a broken record, but the connections between the Manchester Thunder team are not to be underestimated, they really seem to play as a unit and as the season goes on, it will be interesting to see how the opposition teams try to find answers for what they’re putting on court.
Nat Metcalf worked hard in the shooting circle to open up the space for Joyce Mvula, who continues to showcase her skills each week shooting 28/30 at 93%. Ellie Cardwell came on at goal attack in the second half, with Metcalf moving out to wing attack, and took on the shooting load, putting up 32/36 at 89%. Cardwell has to be one of the best players to watch week in week out, her confidence is sky high and she’s making her intentions for a spot in that Commonwealth Games Roses squad pretty clear.
The whole Thunder team played really smart netball, reacting to what was in front of them, and using the advantage gained in the first half to put Lightning in chase mode for the rest of the game.
Where was it lost?
Lightning felt slightly lacklustre from the get go, and seemed a bit shell shocked by the pressure Thunder applied throughout. The Loughbrough side lined up with their regular starting seven, and without Cardwell in the shooting circle for Thunder, there was an opportunity missed to stamp their dominance early on.
Thunder took the first quarter by 6 goals, 19 – 16, but Lightning put together a better performance in the second. Their defensive unit of Alice Harvey, Fran Williams and Beth Cobden stood up, turning ball over and picking up five of their team’s seven intercepts between them. Cobden worked well up against Pearson and Metcalf, her rangy arms snapping up intercepts throughout. Harvey warmed up into the game, looking much stronger in the second and third quarters, but it was always going to be a tough day at the office up against Mvula.
There were fantastic passages of play from the attack, Hannah Joseph combining with Ella Clark and Mary Chohok working well together in attack, but they just couldn’t find answers for the Thunder defence.
Changes in the final quarter, with Susie Liverseidge and Zanele Vimbela coming on at goal attack and goal keeper respectively, provided fresh legs and an injection of energy, but it wasn’t enough for Lightning to bring the game back. The second half was much closer, with just one goal difference between the two teams, but Lightning just couldn’t make a dent in the lead that Thunder established in the first quarter. It felt like an uncharacteristic game from Lightning, normally so cool and level headed; they ended the game on 12 unforced errors to Thunder’s nine.
Standout player
Nat Metcalf stood up for her team, starting at goal attack in place of Ellie Cardwell, which were pretty big shoes to fill. Her knowledge and expertise in wing attack really translated to setting up Mvula at goal shooter, but her confidence to turn and shoot when needed gave the Thunder side the boost they might have lacked without Cardwell. Metcalf only shot 6/8 at 75%, but what she offers in terms of movement and opening up the circle for Mvula is not to be underestimated.
At the other end of the court, the combination between Almond and Van Der Merwe is developing and they did a brilliant job at shutting down the normally unflappable Mary Cholhok, who shot 47/53 at 89% but also turned over ball with four unforced errors.
For Lightning, Beth Cobden had a great game, making sure her hat is firmly in the ring for the Roses Commonwealth Games squad too, with three intercepts, two deflections and three gains. Next up, Thunder take on Celtic Dragons while Lightning travel to face a confident Pulse side, so it will be all eyes on that game to see how they bounce back.



Lightning’s Ella Clark had a good tussle with Shadine van der Merwe of Thunder. Image: Ben Lumley


(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



Round 11:

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


Hear from the players and coaches via our friends at The Netball Show


Jade Clarke of Rhinos and Jas Odeogberin of Pulse. Image: Morgan Harlow

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