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Surrey Storm, Manchester Thunder and the Superleague teams assesed

Netball Superleague teams for 2015

Surrey Storm were crowned Vitality Superleague champions after another memorable season, so Sky Sports expert Anita Navin casts her verdict on all eight franchises.

It was an outstanding season full of excitement with many new, young and incredibly talented players joining the Superleague teams.

The season was marked by two to-the-wire games on the last weekend - a fitting tribute to the league.

Surrey Storm

Surrey Storm win 2016 Superleague title
Image: Surrey Storm win 2016 Superleague title

The golden hand of Hannah Reid stole the ball from Hertfordshire Mavericks in the dying minutes of the semi-final and the rest is history.

The Storm delivered the double last weekend defeating Manchester Thunder to be crowned 2016 Grand Final champions - some would say against the run of play taking into account their early season inconsistencies.

The thought of a team taking the title with no imported players was unthinkable until we witnessed Storm's progress as they relished learning from any loss or dip in performance.

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Highlights from the Vitality Netball Superleague as Surrey Storm played Manchester Thunder in the Grand Final

With Tamsin Greenway and Kat Ratnapala at the helm homework paid off - a reflection of endless minutes of game footage the team focused on, underlining how important this practice is if unpicked to the minute detail.

More from Netball Superleague 2016

What Storm did find were a set of three common and consistent combinations and which they utilised to best effect at varying points. The subtlety in positional moves of Reid to GD and Josie Huckle at GK was rewarded most often with the impact needed to steal a victory.

The rise of Sophia Candappa was exceptional as a mid-courter and her linkage with Georgia Lees proved a most powerful combination. Lees has completed a remarkable season after patiently bench warming behind Greenway the previous season. She waited her turn and the outcome was impressive.

Pamela Cookey and Rachel Dunn reign as one of the most long-standing pairings, carving up the circle at crucial points. I cannot forget the intercept by Reid in the final stages of the semi-final which turned the game for Surrey Storm - only to then see her repeat the feat in the final.

Surrey claim Superleague title
Surrey claim Superleague title

Storm victorious at Copper Box

Manchester Thunder

The most consistent franchise suffered only one defeat in the regular season but failed to turn up on time at the Copper Box, where the first quarter was a major setback

They must be given credit for their fightback led admirably by captain Sara Bayman and their effective structure through the court had seamless set-ups at the centre pass - however all were broken down by Storm pressure in the final.

Manchester Thunder team huddle before the game
Image: Manchester Thunder will aim to come back stronger despite Grand Final defeat

Natalie Haythornthwaite will be remembered for her superb connections with Helen Housby and Ellie Cardwell around the circle edge.

England have found another up-and-coming shooter in Cardwell and after switching from her previous seasons role as a defender there is a determination in her performance to succeed at international level.

Soaking up a Grand Final defeat was difficult for Thunder and credit must go to Dan Ryan for consoling each individual knowing the losing feeling will bring the team back next year.

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Team Bath

Team Bath's Claire Brownie and Surrey Storm's Georgia Lees
Image: Claire Brownie (right) was part of an impressive season for Team Bath

They looked strong on Super Saturday but losing Asha Francis again left a gap in the shooting line-up.

Bath grappled a range of combinations but their defensive unit remained intact and of great strength with the combination of Sam Cook, Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Karla Mostert difficult to break.

With more court-time to cement the partnership Bath might have reached the final.

Seeing Chelsea Lewis so mobile around the court at Goal Attack indicates how much she has developed as a player with the team this season.

Hertfordshire Mavericks

Samantha Wallace claimed the Player of the Season title and she has been a wonderful addition to the competition, showing composure and consistency as well as adding confidence to the Mavericks line-up.

Samantha Wallace: Hertfordshire Mavericks vs Loughborough Lightning
Image: Samantha Wallace's impressive shooting skills helped Mavericks make the semi-final

Losing Joline Johannsen marked a turning point for Mavericks and their season was a little disrupted as they were forced to find a replacement.

Sophie Carter stepped up and delivered but the mid-court for Mavericks was missing Johannsen's spirit and experience in the final stages.

Many were disappointed not to see more of youngster George Fisher but what we did see indicated a player who will be a rock in future years in the shooter role.

Loughborough Lightning

Loughborough Lightning's Rachel Sweet in action.
Image: Injuries and departures made for a difficult Loughborough Lightning season

Reflecting on the season I can't help but focus on some players who have made a difference and worked tirelessly for their team.

A standout player would be Natalie Panagarry who might have expected to be on the bench more this season but the departure of Jade Clarke to Adelaide Thunderbirds in the ANZ and injury to Sasha Corbin opened a door for more court time.

What a breakthrough she had as one of the season's most dynamic centre-court players.

England's Ama Agbeze
Image: Ama Agbeze shone for Lightning and will lead England

Ama Agbeze found a renewed energy to prove her value and deliver for Lightning after missing World Cup selection. She will now lead the England squad at Netball Europe, a fitting tribute to a player who completed a fantastic season for Lightning.

Team Northumbria

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After an influx of imports perhaps many expected a little more from the two Sunshine Girls Shanice Beckford and Nicole Dixon, who had delivered some outstanding performances at International level for Jamaica.

Instead it was Chiara Semple, the young Kiwi shooter, and Leah Kennedy, recently selected for England for Netball Europe, who were stalwarts of the black and red line-up.

Celtic Dragons

Dragons almost stole the win against Loughborough Lightning, narrowly missing out by just three goals.

The loss of Chelsea Lewis gave Georgia Rowe a chance for more court time and she formed a good relationship with Fijian Afa Rusivakula.

Celtic Dragons' Kyra Jones in action
Image: Celtic Dragons' Kyra Jones in action

Kyra Jones is still a force to be reckoned with in the mid-court and continues to convey her tremendous endurance and speed.

Dragons secured a victory over Team Northumbria and overall recorded some great performances and maintaining the consistency over 60 minutes will surely be a future goal.

Yorkshire Jets

Jets did not achieve their sought-after second win but come very close in a season of many surprises. 

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