Stats Leaders of the Week:
Goals: 52 Mary Cholhok (Lightning v Stars)
Feeds: 35 Iona Christian (Wasps v Storm)
Gains: 9 Funmi Fadoju (Pulse v Thunder)
Deflections: 10 Kerry Almond (Thunder v Pulse)
Offensive Rebounds: 4 Mary Cholhok (Lightning v Stars)
Defensive Rebounds: 5 Phumza Maweni (Bath v Wasps)
Intercepts: 5 Towera Vinkhumbo (Sirens v Dragons) & Razia Quashie (Mavericks v Rhinos)
Injuries and Covid-related absences:
Fran Williams and Nat Panagarry (Lightning) didn’t play against Stars
Ine-Mari Venter (Mavericks) was out and will be missing for a few weeks with a calf injury
Georgia Lees and Beth Ecuyer-Dale (Mavericks) were also unavailable
Imogen Allison, Kirsty Harris, Layla Guscoth, Tash Pavelin (Bath) were all out due to Covid against Wasps
Ellie Cardwell (Thunder) didn’t play against Pulse
Georgia Rowe (Dragons) was unavailable against Sirens
STRATHCLYDE SIRENS 51 def CELTIC DRAGONS 41
Bethan Goodwin 28/33 (85%)
Niamh McCall 19/23 (83%)
Emma Barrie 4/4 (100%)
TOTAL 51/60 (85%)
Feeds 60 (Abernethy 28)
Gains 14 (Vinkhumbo 7)
Penalties 44 (Nicholl 11)
Katrina Short 30/34 (97%)
Lefebre Rademan 11/11 (100%)
TOTAL 41/45 (91%)
Feeds 49 (Rudland 18)
Gains 10 (Thomas 4)
Penalties 60 (Thomas 15)
Player of the Match: Gia Abernethy (Sirens)
LEEDS RHINOS 53 def SARACENS MAVERICKS 51
Game 2 of Round 9 saw Saracens Mavericks take on Leeds Rhinos. Both teams were coming off losses and hoping to secure a vital win to cement their top 4 status. With Emily Hollingsworth out for the season having injured her ACL, Michelle Magee got a starting place in the Rhinos squad. Rhea Dixon was in the crowd, still out injured, but said she hoped to be back in a couple of weeks in a half time chat with Sky Sports. Mavericks were similarly hit by illness and injury, Ine-Marí Venter out with a calf injury that worryingly she couldn’t give a timeline for in her own interview with Sky. They were also without Georgia Lees and Beth Ecuyer-Dale, both out due to Covid-19.
Quarter 1 saw Leeds Rhinos pull away early, stunning Mavericks in the first few minutes. It took Mavericks 5 minutes to get on the board, slow starts becoming a bit of a habit for them. Leeds went into the 2nd quarter leading by 4, the score sitting at 14-10. The margin stayed much the same for quarter 2, with Mavericks solidly in chase mode. They managed to work one goal back, 3 the difference at half time and the scoreboard sitting at 22-25. Rhinos put their foot down in quarter 3, making personnel changes and Rebekah Airey making a huge difference against Brit Clarke – thanks to some great Rhinos defence they managed to stretch the difference back out to 5, the score 38-33 going into the final 15 minutes. An incredible run of goals in quarter 4 saw Mavs level the scores with 5 minutes to go, however Rhinos patience combined with unforced errors from Mavs saw Rhinos win the game by 2.
As is becoming customary for Rhinos, what really worked was their attacking combinations and defensive efforts. Although Rhinos started with Sigi Burger and Sienna Rushton, they closed out the game with Rushton at Goal Shooter and Brie Grierson at Goal Attack, Amelia Hall coming into Wing Attack and Jade Clarke at Centre. Whilst this attacking line had speed to burn it also had patience and huge amounts of flair. Rushton and Grierson’s quick footwork made it impossible for Razia Quashie and Jodie Gibson to win ball off them and Clarke and Hall’s patience ensured balls were only given when it was safe to do so. This attacking combination also turned out to be lethal as Grierson wasn’t afraid to put her shots up and was accurate doing so, sitting at 100%. This meant Quashie and Gibson couldn’t simply isolate Rushton and force Grierson to do all the work.
What also worked for Rhinos, once again, was their defensive work and use of defensive substitutes. Whilst many are questioning why Rebekah Airey doesn’t start games, she is becoming arguably the most impactful impact sub VNSL has. Coming on half-way through quarter 3, Airey managed to turn over a huge amount of ball and force Brit Clarke into mistakes at key moments. This was similar to Vicki Oyesola who, when brought back onto the court in quarter 4, gained possession and changed the momentum when Mavs had got the upper hand.
Where was it won?
For me, this game was won in the attacking ends. Mavs’ defenders Aliyah Zaranyika, Jodie Gibson and Razia Quashie all picked up ball, particularly in Mavs quarter 4 run which levelled the game. However, when they continued to gain possession in the final 5 minutes their attackers couldn’t capitalise. With the score at 49-50 and Mavs with a chance to even the scores once more, Sasha Corbin broke on Mavs’ centre pass. This was undoubtedly the moment the game changed, and sealed Mavs’ fate with 3 minutes to go.
In contrast, Rhinos’ attacking line was calm and composed and had the game smarts to run down the clock, only giving safe and sure passes. They could have given into the pressure having been hunted by Mavs for this whole game, however they kept their heads and didn’t allow Mavs to capitalise on any mistakes.
Eventual Player of the Match Grierson was a standout alongside her shooting partner Rushton. Both had killer movement and shot confidently – something that has eluded Rhinos in the past. Grierson also played with huge amounts of flair that, as a fan, was exciting to see. Whilst Rushton is developing as a confident and assured shooter, in this match we also got to see the improvements in her defensive game. Every week she is gaining more ball back in the centre court for Rhinos, something that is helping them sneak away with wins. Up the other end, Airey also had another phenomenal outing, quickly becoming Rhino’s super sub.
For Mavericks, Zaranyika was a standout – she turned over a huge amount of ball especially in key moments. With 2 minutes to go, and desperate to get her team back into the game, she forced a ball off the sideline, disrupting Rhinos’ momentum. These are the sorts of huge moments that, in the right game, can change a game and it is impressive to see them being created by such a young player.
Britney Clarke 22/23 (96%)
Kadeen Corbin 18/19 (95%)
Chloe Essam 11/18 (61%)
TOTAL 51/60 (85%)
Feeds 34 (K Corbin, S Corbin 12)
Gains 15 (Quashie 5)
Penalties 51 (Quashie 15)
Sigi Burger 17/18 (94%)
Sienna Rushton 28/29 (97%)
TOTAL 53/55 (96%)
Feeds 26 (Grierson 13)
Gains 13 (Magee, Oyesola 4)
Penalties 60 (Magee 18)
Player of the Match: Brie Grierson (Rhinos)
MANCHESTER THUNDER 51 def LONDON PULSE 48
Joyce Mvula 45/49 (92%)
Natalie Metcalf 4/8 (50%)
TOTAL 51/59 (86%)
Feeds 60 (O’Hanlon 22)
Gains 12 (Almond 5)
Penalties 38 (Almond 13)
Olivia Tchine 40/44 (91%)
Sacha McDonald 8/10 (80%)
TOTAL 48/54 (89%)
Feeds 49 (McDonald 15)
Gains 18 (Fadoju 9)
Penalties 55 (Keable 17)
LOUGHBOROUGH LIGHTNING 70 def SEVERN STARS 56
Katie Harris 23/25 (92%)
Issy Eaton 15/17 (88%)
Paige Reed 11/15 (73%)
Catherine Tuivaiti 7/7 (100%)
TOTAL 56/64 (88%)
Feeds 58 (Leota 26)
Gains 14 (Herdman 7)
Penalties 21 (Artman 7)
Mary Cholhok 52/55 (95%)
Ella Clark 15/19 (79%)
Emma Thacker 3/6 (50%)
TOTAL 70/80 (88%)
Feeds 71 (Joseph 26)
Gains 6 (Vimbela 4)
Penalties 55 (Bowen 15)
WASPS 62 def TEAM BATH 50
Lucy Parize 30/36 (83%)
Rachel Dunn 29/33 (88%)
Gizelle Allison 3/5 (60%)
TOTAL 62/74 (84%)
Feeds 59 (Christian 17)
Gains 11 (Huckle 5)
Penalties 33 (Fee 10)
Betsy Creak 21/22 (95%)
Sophie Drakeford-Lewis 16/18 (89%)
Kim Borger 13/16 (81%)
TOTAL 50/56 (89%)
Feeds 48 (J Shaw 23)
Gains 12 (Maweni 7)
Penalties 59 (Maweni 17)
SURREY STORM 67 def WASPS 59
After the first 8 rounds, this match up between Storm and Wasps was set to be an exciting game. Both teams were sitting towards the bottom of the ladder and a win would be a real confidence boost for the rest of the season. Wasps have been building new connections this season, whilst Wasps are really cementing the addition of new shooter Proscovia Peace, but they can end up relying on the superstar shooter a bit too heavily on occasions.
The teams were playing for the annual Tom Reseigh trophy, in memory of former Storm Team Manager Tom Reseigh who passed away in 2016, so there was more at stake than just the round win. In a lovely touch, Tom’s daughter presented the match ball for the first centre pass.
It was a strong start from Storm who came out of the blocks with real force. The Surrey side really look like they’re cementing their processes, and with a number of their core team members playing together for a number of years now, you can really see those connections starting to pay off.
Whilst hardly a week goes by without us singing the praises of Proscovia Peace at goal shooter for Storm, it was goal attack Frankie Wells who stood up this week in place of the injured Emma Magee. Wells provided a fantastic link between the attacking feeders and the goal, either offloading to Peace or turning to post. She put up 16/19 goals, shooting at 84% and proving brilliant back up to the goal scoring machine that is Proscovia Peace, who hit 400 season goals during this match thanks to shooting 48/49 (98%).
The Storm defence were the key to their win in this game, with Leah Middleton and Felisitus Kwangwa teaming up at goal keeper and goal defence respectively. Middleton had a fantastic game, picking up eight gains, four intercepts, two defensive rebounds and two deflections. She was a thorn in the side of the Wasps shooters, and her combination with Kwangwa worked really well. Kwangwa wasn’t far behind on the stats sheet, with three deflections, two gains and two defensive rebounds, she sent Wasps starting goal attack Lucy Parize to the bench after the first quarter with just 5/8 goals (63%).
It really was a full court performance from the Storm side, as the midcourters really stepped up at both ends of the court. Player coach Mikki Austin used her bench really well, and counteracted the Wasps changes to keep them guessing. Captain Yas Parsons had a great game, starting at wing attack before being moved to centre in the second half, she didn’t allow the Wasps defence to get set up around her and the Storm shooters, finding a route directly to Peace under the post. With 26 feeds, a defensive rebound and a gain, she really led by example and it was a standout performance from the Storm captain.
Wing defence Niamh Cooper continued the form that we have seen from her so far this season. She is one of the hardest workers on court and the fitness levels that mean she can put in a full 60 minute performance are not to be underestimated. With two intercepts, two deflections and two gains, Cooper has the unenviable task of trying to shut down Iona Christian, which is no easy task.
For Wasps, there were plenty of positives, but they just allowed Storm to pull away in the final quarter. There were points in the game where they came back within three goals, but they just couldn’t keep the pressure on to overtake a confident Storm side.
Gazelle Allison came on at goal attack after the first quarter, playing probably some of the most minutes we’ve seen in a single game from her so far. She shot 37/43 at 86%, giving some much needed backup to Wasps’ superstar shooter Rachel Dunn. With Allison on the court, Dunn was moved out to goal attack and shot 17/19 at 89% which is lower than we’re used to seeing.
Iona Christan had a strong game at wing attack for Wasps, and was lethal with ball in hand, racking up 35 feeds.
Where was it won and lost
Storm were clinical in the first three quarters, and you could see the confidence soar in the fourth quarter. They really looked like they were playing for each other, and their connections across the court combined with fantastic use of their bench players was great to see. We regularly talk about the attacking work of the Surrey side, but their defence in this game was what helped them take home the win. The pressure they put on throughout the match meant that Wasps had to play the ball round much more than they would have liked, which gave the Storm defence the opportunity to pick up intercepts and deflections.
It was by no means a perfect performance from either side. Wasps would have been disappointed that they couldn’t have put their foot on the throttle when they were within three goals, whilst Storm would have been disheartened that they let Wasps eat into the lead to get so close.
Looking at the statistics, the defensive rebounds and intercepts were where Storm managed to turnover the most ball. Wasps also tipped the scales in terms of missed shots which, when combined with those defensive rebounds, was always going to make the win a bit trickier to come by.
Honestly, it’s hard to pick from the Storm side as every player on court really stood up in this game to take home the win. For me though, Leah Middleton had a fantastic game and her defensive stats really back that up. To contribute to an attacking change from the opposition after the first quarter and to shut down the likes of Rachel Dunn is a pretty impressive day at the office.
It was great to see Gezelle Allison getting more game time for Wasps, and hopefully this game will give her a confidence boost despite the loss. Her ability to turn to post and sink long bombs with the rangy lean of Middleton was impressive, and I think she will be a real weapon in Wasps’ arsenal this season.
Storm are away to Celtic Dragons in round 10, whilst Wasps aren’t playing until they come up against Saracens Mavericks in round 11, so it will be interesting to see these two teams continue to battle it out in such close proximity on the table over the coming rounds.
Proscovia Peace 48/49 (98%)
Frankie Wells 16/19 (84%)
Sophie Kelly 3/5 (60%)
TOTAL 67/73 (92%)
Feeds 69 (Parsons 26)
Gains 16 (Middleton 8)
Penalties 53 (Middleton 18)
Gezelle Allison 37/43 (86%)
Rachel Dunn 17/19 (89%)
Lucy Parize 5/8 (63%)
TOTAL 59/70 (84%)
Feeds 67 (Christian 35)
Gains 9 (Powell-Davies 4)
Penalties 41 (Huckle 12)
Player of the Match: Yasmin Parsons (Storm)
(Team . Pld . Pts . +/-)
Thunder . 9 . 27 . +124
Lightning . 8 . 24 . +119
Pulse . 9 . 18 . +63
Mavericks . 9 . 15 . +0
Rhinos . 8 . 15 . -39
Bath . 9 . 12 . +20
Storm . 9 . 12 . -18
Wasps . 10 . 9 . -21
Sirens . 9 . 9 . -35
Stars . 9 . 3 . -101
Dragons . 9 . 3 . -112
Bath v Mavericks and Sirens v Stars both postponed
Sat 3pm Rhinos v Pulse Sky (YouTube)
Mon 5:30pm Lightning v Thunder Sky
Mon 7pm Dragons v Storm
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