Lightning lead the way after Vitality Netball Superleague Round 4

Sportsbeat
·5 min read
South African international Ine-Mari Venter make her Superleague debut for Saracens Mavericks in one of six Round 4 clashes © AAPIMAGE via Reuters Connect
South African international Ine-Mari Venter make her Superleague debut for Saracens Mavericks in one of six Round 4 clashes © AAPIMAGE via Reuters Connect

Round 4 of the Vitality Netball Superleague came to a close on Monday night. We take a look back at all the action from the weekend and how the table looks so far.

Reigning champions Manchester Thunder remain unbeaten after a 60-27 victory over Severn Stars in the first match of the weekend.

Stars are one of three teams who are yet to find a win this season and with Liana Leota coming off with a dislocated finger and Georgia Rowe being ruled out through illness, they had to field a new rotating attack end. Thunder took advantage of this and turnovers were quickly created into goals.

Thunder showed no signs of letting up and maintained their fierce intensity throughout. Although 16-year-old Issy Eaton worked hard on her debut for Stars, it did not have a significant impact on the end result.

The second match on Sunday saw Strathclyde Sirens win their third consecutive match for the first time ever in their Superleague history. The Scottish franchise have proven they are a force to be reckoned with this season, and they defeated London Pulse 35-30 this time around.

Pulse are another side yet to find a win in the 2021 campaign but have been involved in a couple of close encounters. Sirens managed to hold on to a narrow lead throughout the game but changes in attack in the third quarter increased the pressure from Pulse.

Sirens stayed composed in defence and creative in attack to see out a well-fought game. This win means Sirens have now matched their total wins for the 2019 season, showing that they are this season’s surprise package.

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Wasps bounced back from consecutive defeats against Team Bath and Loughborough Lightning with a 47-33 victory over Surrey Storm in the third game of Sunday afternoon.

The experience in the Wasps side showed throughout the court with Sophia Candappa and Iona Christian dominating the mid-court and Rachel Dunn and Katie Harris consistently finding the post to capitalise on impressive turnovers.

Storm were competitive but were unable to make the most of their chances, gifting Wasps opportunities to extend their lead and take home the three points going into the break.

Loughborough Lightning rounded off Sunday’s fixtures with a huge 70-41 victory over Leeds Rhinos.

New franchise Rhinos have been hit with injuries so far in 2021, losing three of their starting seven in their second match, and in this game Vicki Oyesola was forced off in the second quarter to illness.

Loughborough dominated throughout and were 17 goals ahead by the halfway point. The goals kept coming in the second half, with Lightning getting 20 in the third quarter and 15 in the final 12 minutes, allowing them to rack up the highest goal tally of the season so far and a valuable three points.

Saracens Mavericks returned to winning ways with a 61-41 victory over Celtic Dragons, who are still searching for their first win of the season.

It was great to see Jodie Gibson return to court after a long-term injury, and South African international Ine-Mari Venter make her Superleague debut in the goal shooter position.

A dominate first quarter from Mavericks was enough for them to see out a victory. Dragons responded well, making tactical tweaks and winning the second quarter as the teams went goal-for-goal.

Dragons were unable to stop the attacking combination of Kadeen Corbin and Georgia Lees in the second half as Saracens extended their lead. This victory takes Mavericks into the all-important top four.

Loughborough Lightning struck again on Monday night with a 58-30 win over Severn Stars to take them top of the table.

Stars were without Leota through injury and Rowe through illness but remained positive and worked hard throughout. However, Lightning showed their experience and upped the intensity at the right time.

The introduction of Mary Cholhok in the shooter position and Ella Clark remaining on court meant that Loughborough enjoyed a significant height advantage in the attacking end and widened the gap further to secure a double victory in Round 4.

As the Superlegaue heads into a break this week we look back on what we have seen so far and the all-important league table.

It is no surprise that Manchester Thunder and Team Bath are the only teams who remain unbeaten so far this season. But in the next round they are set to play each other in what is bound to be a thriller. Thunder then take on Wasps a day later while Bath’s second game is against Severn Stars.

The biggest surprise of the season so far is undoubtedly Strathclyde Sirens who currently sit in fifth place with three wins and one loss.

As it stands Loughborough Lightning sit top of the pile with Thunder, Bath and Mavericks taking up the rest of the vital top four places.

Celtic Dragons lie at the foot of the standings, yet most teams have only played four games and there is still a long way to go this season.