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NSL round 8 brings high scorelines as the top four create a buffer

As the Netball Super League neared the half-way point, Saracens Mavericks and Cardiff Dragons wanted to close the gap on the top four, but faced the challenges of Manchester Thunder and Loughborough Lightning respectively. Leeds Rhinos looked to earn a second win in a row against Team Bath, whilst London Pulse, who currently sit in third place, aimed to keep Strathclyde Sirens well away from their first win of the 2024 season. Finally, Severn Stars also wanted to open up a real gap between them and fifth place to increase their hopes of a first ever final four finish.

First, Loughborough Lightning welcomed Cardiff Dragons. I had the pleasure of attending this fixture and being part of the crowd. Lightning took the lead right from the offset and never let Dragons get a glimpse of a comeback. The formidable defensive duo of Alice Harvey and Nicola Smith was awesome, helped by England Commonwealth gold medallist Beth Cobden in WD (Wing Defence) and captain Nat Panagary in Centre (C). Dragons attack was shut down and lacked options, allowing Lightning to pick off balls and get turnovers. This work was reflected in Lightning’s five intercepts, compared to Dragon’s one. Mary Cholhok had a few uncharacteristic misses, but given her height she got the rebounds, whereas Dragons struggled to regain possession once the shot was missed, which happened more frequently than they might have liked, with their shot success percentages standing at 78% and 81%. For Dragons, captain Nia Jones was a real leader, feeding her teammates instructions constantly. GD Jacqui Newton was also a huge help to the Welsh side, getting three deflections, three pick-ups and five gains. Lightning emptied their bench as the final whistle drew nearer, searching for new combinations and options in future, tighter games. When the whistle finally came, Lightning had a healthy twenty goal lead over Dragons.

Elsewhere, London Pulse looked to punish winless Strathclyde Sirens. Sirens put up a good fight, losing by only two goals in the second quarter and 4 in the third quarter, but Pulse’s enormous 26 deflections and a fantastic 96% shooting success rate gave them the upper hand at home. Despite managing to get more outright intercepts than the home team, Sirens missed 9 shots and were outplayed by the defence of Pulse. The gap between second and third at three points, meaning the team from the capital remain within touching distance of a top two spot and therefore a potentially more favourable semi-final. The question is: Can anyone stop Thunder and Lightning?

Leeds Rhinos saw off Team Bath, keeping themselves in the middle of the pack, whilst ensuring Bath do not sneak up behind them. Saracens Mavericks hosted four-time champions Manchester Thunder at the OVO Arena in Wembley. Thunder won every quarter despite the best efforts of Mavericks to go back to the top of the table, only above Lightning by a goal difference of one. It is turning into a real battle for top of the table as we head into Round 9, the half-way mark. Severn Stars also got a solid win against last season’s fourth-placed Surrey Storm to enhance their chances and also boost their confidence as they look to emulate what Storm did last season.

In the ninth round, Cardiff Dragons will have high hopes of sliding up to fifth, because Saracens Mavericks will be the underdogs against London Pulse. Sirens will once again be hoping to take their first win when they head to Surrey. When they face the reigning champions, Stars will face a test of their character and ability and we will see what they are made of! Finally, Manchester will welcome Rhinos hoping to remain ahead of Lightning- they will have to watch their goal difference.

Round 8 results:

  • Loughborough Lightning 69-41 Cardiff Dragons
  • London Pulse 66-45 Strathclyde Sirens
  • Team Bath 51-67 Leeds Rhinos
  • Saracens Mavericks 46-70 Manchester Thunder
  • Severn Stars 72-55 Surrey Storm

Round 9 fixtures:

  • Surrey Storm vs Strathclyde Sirens
  • Team Bath Netball vs Cardiff Dragons
  • Manchester Thunder vs Leeds Rhinos
  • Severn Stars vs Loughborough Lightning
  • London Pulse vs Saracens Mavericks

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Additionally, visit the NSL website to discover more.

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Also, see other articles from me below, including revision tips as GCSEs edge closer. 

By Natasha Callis

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