Vitality Netball Superleague: Stars and Thunder both victorious in Round Four
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 15/03/20 1:30pm
Severn Stars and Manchester Thunder both notched up Vitality Netball Superleague victories on Saturday evening, but a meeting of the franchises is scheduled for Monday.
The reigning champions had too much to handle for Storm and ran out comfortable 60-42 winners while Severn Stars gained their first victory of the new season with a 59-54 result against the two-time champions Wasps Netball.
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Netball was one of the few sports to go ahead this weekend with the coronavirus impacting and cancelling much of the sporting schedule.
Ahead of the match in Surrey, Storm's franchise director, head coach and player Mikki Austin shared that further discussions are scheduled to take place after these matches.
"For us, our decision [to play Round Four] was led by England Netball as a national governing body in combination with Vitality Netball Superleague," Austin told Sky Sports News.
"They have been really open in their communication with us as a franchise and across the league since Thursday. They took a lead off the government and what they had put in place.
"I think the environment surrounding the world and health organisations at the moment is so rapidly changing," Austin added.
"I know that they are going to re-evaluate the situation [of matches going ahead] on Monday and we expect an announcement to be made on Tuesday.
"We'll just have to operate on a round-by-round, week-by-week basis at this point."
Thunder maintain unbeaten record in style
After being pushed all the way against Lightning in Round Three, Thunder were determined to remind the league of their strength and they did just that in Surrey.
Karen Greig's outfit turned Storm's first centre pass and despite the home side pushing back at them, they led 16-10 at the first pause.
In the second quarter the reigning champions' defensive pressure paid dividends and nine first-half intercepts enabled them to create a 33-20 half-time lead. In contrast Storm's 13 unforced errors hindered their work.
Greig's exceptionally strong bench maintained their position in the third as the introductions of Kathryn Turner and Ash Neal simply added to their output.
Storm, who haven't won since the Season Opener, handed a debut to 21-year-old Ellie Kelk but weren't able to stay in touch with their opponents. Instead, Thunder kept converting through to goal and remain perfect so far this term.
Up next - In Round Five Manchester Thunder will host Celtic Dragons at home. Surrey Storm's plans are uncertain after their away match against Saracens Mavericks has been cancelled due to the University of Essex closing its campus.
Stars gain big victory over Wasps
Saturday's other fixture was a nail-biter at Worcester Arena with Melissa Bessell's Severn Stars delivering the first big scalp of the season by beating the two-time champions Wasps.
A single goal separated the two outfits after the first 30 minutes of play and the first half was spearheaded by excellent shooting.
At either end, Georgia Rowe and Rachel Dunn showed strong conversion rates to goal; Rowe didn't miss a shot while Dunn put up all but one of Wasps' first-half 27 goals.
Netball Scotland suspends all netball activity
Netball Scotland have made the decision to suspend all netball activity across Scotland with immediate effect until further notice.
Poised at 29-28, it took until the latter stages of the third quarter for one team to create a solid cushion. The two-time champions capitalised on a couple of Stars errors - a contact and a replay ball - to edge 44-39 in front.
Stars, hungry to gain their first win of the season, did not let up in the last though and instead their leaders stepped up. Excellent feeds from Liana Leota were coupled with more sharp-shooting and key turnovers from Towera Vinkhumbo.
Mel Mansfield's perspective on the match
The game came down to the last quarter and we need to score consistently across the four quarters - we went from a 16-goal quarter to a 10-goal quarter; we also won less balls in that last quarter throughout the court - and we just had a disappointing finish.
The team's hard work pulled the match back in before creating their own three-goal lead with five minutes left to play. In the face of a first win, Stars stayed composed and worked until the final whistle for their 59-54 victory.
Up next - Wasps Netball will be preparing to host London Pulse at the Ricoh Arena while Severn Stars are due to welcome Loughborough Lightning to Gloucester University.
The conclusion of Round Four is scheduled to take place on Monday with Loughborough Lightning facing off against Saracens Mavericks. The game will be played behind closed doors, but it is still planned to be shown live on Sky Sports and streamed on the Sky Sports YouTube channel.
The other fixtures will see Celtic Dragons hosting Strathclyde Sirens and two unbeaten sides - Team Bath Netball and London Pulse - meeting in Bath.
Live coverage of the Vitality Netball Superleague season is set to continue on Monday when Loughborough Lightning host Saracens Mavericks. Join us on Sky Sports Arena, Mix and YouTube from 6.45pm.