Team Bath, Manchester Thunder and Loughborough Lightning book last semi-final spots in Vitality Netball Superleague
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 08/05/19 8:14am
Team Bath, Manchester Thunder and Loughborough Lightning secured the remaining semi-final places after Round 18 of the Vitality Netball Superleague.
The trio of sides, who all went into the final round of the regular season on 36 points, all knew that victories would be enough to keep their quests for the 2019 title alive.
Behind them Saracens Mavericks were hoping that one might slip-up and although some had hairy moments, all successfully navigated their way over the final hurdle between them and play-off netball.
Of the trio, Jess Thirlby's Bath were the most clinical in Round 18. In front of the Sky Sports cameras they dominated London Pulse from start to finish and ensured their her last home match at the Team Bath Arena ended in a 72-50 victory.
The home side's all-court defence rattled their opponents, preventing them from scoring their first goal until six minutes in, and that set the tone for a comprehensive win.
It was a victory that showed that the most successful side in the history of the competition can run extremely hot, if they get it right.
Player of the match Sophie Drakeford-Lewis excelled and was unfazed by the introduction of the highly experienced Ama Agbeze against her.
Drakeford-Lewis' timing, and her partnership with the unflappable Kim Commane, shone and Bath fans will hope that she can shake off the knock that she received late on in time for next weekend.
Elsewhere on court, Serena Guthrie was her usual commanding self while Summer Artman and Eboni Usoro-Brown highlighted their athleticism. The duo's pressure helped to disrupt the flow into the sharp-shooting Chiara Semple and Shantal Slater.
Vitality Netball Superleauge - Round 18 Results
|Loughborough Lightning||67 - 56||Celtic Dragons|
|Saracens Mavericks||50 - 45||Strathclyde Sirens|
|Team Bath||72 - 50||London Pulse|
|Severn Stars||45 - 60||Wasps Netball|
|Surrey Storm||55 - 60||Manchester Thunder|
Manchester Thunder, who will host Bath in the final four, were embroiled in a Round 18 thriller against Surrey Storm. When it came to their final 60 minutes of the regular season. Karen Greig's side had to do things the hard way and come from behind multiple times to pip Storm 60-55.
Sara Bayman's Lightning were also pushed hard, in their case by Dragons, but delivered a strong final quarter to secure the win that they needed by 67-56.
Vitality Netball Superleague - Semi-finals - May, 11
|5pm||Wasps Netball||vs||Loughborough Lightning||Live on Sky Sports Mix & Action|
|7pm||Manchester Thunder||vs||Team Bath||Live on Sky Sports Mix & Action|
The team's reward is a semi-final meeting with the only side that knew their fate leading into Round 18 - Wasps.
The defending champion's 60-45 win on the road at Severn Stars finished their regular season on a high note and provides us with an enthralling semi-final.
Not only have Wasps and Lightning contested the last two Grand Finals, the Round 10 meeting between them was arguably one of the matches of the season.
Both semi-finals will be played on Saturday, May 11 and will take place back-to-back, live on Sky Sports Mix and Action.
The coverage of Wasps' meeting with Lightning will start at 4.45pm before the attentions turn on Thunder and Team Bath from 6.45pm.
With the final table positions finishing as they did, and semi-final line-ups falling as they have, we are guaranteed a new Superleague finalist for the first time in three years.
Watch both of Vitality Netball Superleague semi-finals live on Sky Sports Mix and Action on Saturday, May 11 from 4.45pm. Also, Sky Sports will be showing every game of the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup in July.