Vitality Netball Superleague: Saracens Mavericks' first win over Wasps blows play-off race open
Kat Ratnapala's team came from behind to beat the two-time Superleague champions; coverage of the Vitality Netball Superleague continues on Sunday, June 13 with four matches streamed on the Sky Sports YouTube channel from 12pm
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 01/06/21 7:01am
Saracens Mavericks' first win over Wasps has blown open the Vitality Netball Superleague play-off race, with two rounds of the regular season to go.
After going into the fourth quarter four goals down, Mavericks produced a stunning final 12 minutes to overcome Wasps' resilience and register a 41-37 victory.
Kat Ratnapala's team are a side that have not reached the standards they expect of themselves so far this season, but they could gain significant momentum from this meeting with the two-time champions.
Team Bath Netball, Loughborough Lightning and Manchester Thunder have already booked semi-final spots and of the four teams still in contention for the remaining place, Mavericks have the greatest number of games left to play.
The first of their three contests is against Team Bath Netball, a side they have already beaten this season, while Wasps must dust themselves off before taking on Surrey Storm in Round 19.
Superleague's play-off race
Saracens Mavericks' victory over Wasps means the Superleague season will go down to the wire. With a quartet of teams still in contention for fourth, and all having differing numbers of matches left to play, there are a wealth of permutations and possibilities.
Despite some contests looking 'predictable' on paper, the teams out of the running remain inspired to shake things up and those in the play-off mix, know that one missed step will end their season.
Vitality Netball Superleague's race for the top four
|Wasps (4th)||Leeds Rhinos (5th)||Strathclyde Sirens (6th)||Saracens Mavericks (7th)|
|Points: 31||Points: 30||Points: 29||Points: 28|
|May 29||Team Bath (L)|
|May 30||Loughborough Lightning (L)||Saracens Mavericks (W)||Strathclyde Sirens (L)|
|May 31||Saracens Mavericks (L)||Surrey Storm (W)||Wasps (W)|
|June 13||Surrey Storm||Celtic Dragons||Team Bath|
|June 14||London Pulse|
|June 20||London Pulse||Manchester Thunder||Surrey Storm|
|June 21||Celtic Dragons|
|Maximum possible points||34 points||36 points||35 points||37 points|
Round 19 begins on June 13 with Wasps returning to court against Surrey Storm, before Sirens take on Celtic Dragons and Mavericks have their meeting with Team Bath Netball.
Never before has the competition had this level of jeopardy going into the final rounds and every match is being shown live on Sky Sports' platforms.
Mavericks show heart to beat Wasps
Saracens Mavericks sought to quieten their critics by producing a gutsy comeback against Wasps in one of their most pressured matches of the season.
After being 32-28 down at three-quarter time, due to Wasps' stalwart Rachel Dunn and defender Josie Huckle inspiring their team to step up, Ratnapala's team used the final 12 minutes to show what they were made of.
Exceptional defensive efforts from Jodie Gibson, Jo Trip and the outstanding Gabriella Marshall provided the catalyst for their match-winning surge.
In attack, Britney Clarke had learned on the job against a determined Huckle and by the latter stages, the 21-year-old looked like a Superleague regular during the most important game of her debut season.
After being behind from the first quarter, Mavericks were not able to be reel Wasps back in until the 45th minute. It was Clarke who converted a key rebound after Katie Harris' missed shot, and once the contest hit 36-36, Mavericks never looked back.
At times this season, composure has let Mavericks down. However, in this crunch match, passes stuck and their high-speed game propelled them over the line.
"It's all still to play for," Marshall, who was named player of the match, said after.
"We've left it late and we know that we've made it hard for ourselves. We know that we're capable of great things. If we can keep putting in performances like that then it's going to be a good fight for the end of the season"
In the earlier contest, Leeds Rhinos Netball ground out a 49-39 victory against Surrey Storm
Head coach Dan Ryan called the encounter a "difficult contest" postmatch, however, it is one that they must learn from going into their final two matches against London Pulse and Celtic Dragons.
|Leeds Rhinos Netball||11||17||12||9||49|
"I'm happy with the three points but the quality of the performance was not what we're about," Ryan told Sky Sports.
"We want a higher quality of performance than that and we need to look at how to find ourselves during those moments when it's a bit all over the shop."
Sky Sports is your home of netball. The Vitality Netball Superleague continues with Round 19 on Sunday, June 13 and four matches streamed back-to-back on the Sky Sports YouTube channel from 12pm.