Netball Superleague 2022: Thunder clinch semis place, Pulse edge Mavericks

By Jess AndersonBBC Sport
Bath v Rhinos
Rhinos' victory over Bath is their first against the five-time champions and keeps them in the top-four hunt

Manchester Thunder continued their prolific form and guaranteed a spot in the Superleague semi-finals on a fascinating double-header weekend.

London Pulse edged a tight encounter with Saracens Mavericks in a decisive game for a semi-final place.

While Team Bath missed the opportunity to earn their fourth consecutive win with defeat by Leeds Rhinos.

Surrey Storm fell to back-to-back defeats as the top-four battle rolls on.

Manchester Thunder continued their destructive form - crushing Strathclyde Sirens 73-51 before steamrolling Surrey Storm, scoring a record 80 goals to Storm's 50.

Loughborough Lightning closed out two tight games to keep the pressure on Thunder in second - a 57-54 win over Storm and a 56-52 victory over Celtic Dragons - who had finally earned some deserved points on Saturday to back up their consistently improving performances with a 55-51 victory over Leeds Rhinos.

Having won their respective round-13 matches against Wasps and Severn Stars, Pulse and Mavericks played out a tight encounter, but a patient third-quarter performance from Pulse extended their lead and gave them the chance to ultimately pull away in the final period to win.

Wasps, whose head coach Mel Mansfield announced this week that she will step away at the end of the season, lost both their games to Pulse as well as bottom-of-the-league Stars as their disappointing season continues.

Who will make the semi-finals?

With six rounds to go until the semi-finals on Friday, 3 June before the Grand Final on two days later, stakes are high with very little to separate the potential top-four contenders.

Just as a place in the semi-finals seems to be heading one way, a poor performance or shock result pulls it in another direction.

Team Bath had looked to be back on track - recording three consecutive wins in their past three games - but missed out on the opportunity to consolidate, losing to a Rhinos side who they had never been beaten by and who had been defeated by second-from-bottom Dragons the day before.

Bath's lack of consistency means they have dropped out of the top four for the time being along with Storm, who faced the toughest ask of the franchises in the double-header weekend with the top two sides, Thunder and Lightning, their opponents.

But with just nine points separating third and seventh place and a lack of consistency among many of the sides, it is still all to play for.

Rhinos made the semi-finals in their maiden season last year, but their form has been erratic, losing to Storm, Pulse and Sirens but overcoming Bath and Mavericks, while Bath's season has been plagued with injury, inconsistency, the loss of England Rose Serena Guthrie and now the news that their head coach Anna Stembridge will leave at the end of the season.

Proscovia Peace's arrival at Storm has undoubtedly provided Mikki Austin's side with the attacking threat they have been missing in previous seasons, meaning they are certainly not one to rule out, despite two losses over the Easter weekend.

Pulse and Mavericks continue to battle it out in third and fourth respectively, and Pulse's victory over their London rivals, where Alicia Scholes dominated play, gives them a boost that they are deserving of a semi-final spot.


Round 13

Saturday, 16 April

Loughborough Lightning 57-54 Surrey Storm

Leeds Rhinos 51-55 Celtic Dragons

Manchester Thunder 73-51 Strathclyde Sirens

Wasps 38-44 London Pulse

Saracens Mavericks 58-44 Severn Stars

Round 14

Sunday, 17 April

Team Bath 54-64 Leeds Rhinos

Celtic Dragons 52-56 Loughborough Lightning

Surrey Storm 50-80 Manchester Thunder

London Pulse 53-46 Saracens Mavericks

Severn Stars 56-47 Wasps

Vitality Netball Superleague table 2022
TeamPlayedWonDrawLostForAgainstGoal DifferencePoints
Manchester Thunder14140095974421542
Loughborough Lightning13120181066114936
London Pulse149057116624927
Saracens Mavericks138057106753524
Team Bath137067206477321
Surrey Storm14608787846-5918
Leeds Rhinos13607650721-7118
Strathclyde Sirens12408585643-5812
Celtic Dragons142012668799-1316
Severn Stars132011686824-1386

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