NS PREVIEW – Vitality Netball Superleague 2019

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    Ian
    • Posts: 11595

    Member since:
    Feb 3, 2007

    By Ian Harkin

     

    The Sleeping Giant Awakens

    The year just gone was an incredible one for English netball. Thanks to the Roses’ triumph against the odds in the Commonwealth Games, netball has won more accolades, reached new audiences and achieved greater popularity in Britain than ever before. 2019 will be another landmark year as the Netball World Cup comes to Liverpool. Before then however, there is the Vitality Netball Superleague.

    The Superleague has always had its loyal band of supporters, but it is to be hoped that the newfound support for netball in England will translate to greater mainstream acceptance of the game at club level. The past 24 hours has seen even more good news with the announcement of a partnership between Mavericks and Rugby powerhouse Saracens. The sport is getting more professional in Britain each year. Things are looking up.

    The Superleague this year kicks off with the return of Super10 at Arena Birmingham. All ten teams in one place gives people a chance to see where everyone sits for this season, with all five matches being broadcast on Sky Sports. The second match will be between last year’s two grand finalists, Wasps and Loughborough Lightning, while possibly the match of the day will be the last one between Manchester Thunder and the newly named Saracens Mavericks.

    Bongi Msomi (photo Simon Leonard)

     

    How Do The Teams Shape Up?

    So, who is likely to be there at the pointy end of the season? Two time defending champions, Wasps go into this season as favourites again, and deservedly so. They are without their founding head coach, Tamsin Greenway. But in the capable hands of Mel Mansfield, there’s no reason it shouldn’t just be business as usual.

    The Wasps team is a largely settled one with the loss of Nat Haythornthwaite being offset by the return of Bongi Msomi. She joins an already formidable outfit, which includes captain Hannah Knights, Jade Clarke, Rachel Dunn and Fran Williams. Can they win a record third straight Superleague title? Why not? At the very least, you can mark them down for a top two finish.

    As to Wasps’ challengers, the consistent Manchester Thunder team is sure to make its presence felt once again. Former head coach Dan Ryan returns this year as Karen Greig’s assistant. With a powerful team, full of big match experience from the likes of Liana Leota, and ably led by Emma Dovey, Thunder can be expected to challenge strongly for a finals berth once again.

    Mavericks will go into the season full of confidence now, thanks to their new association with Saracens. Sasha Corbin will lead a strong squad coached by Kat Ratnapala. One of the most exciting inclusions is young England shooter George Fisher, back after two years with Wasps. Mavericks have an excellent chance to improve on their fifth place finish in 2018.

    Loughborough Lightning have been dealt not one, not two, but three major blows with Peace Proscovia, Beth Cobden and Shamera Sterling all signing to play in Australia. New Director of Netball, Sara Bayman will be hoping that towering Ugandan shooter Mary Cholhok Nuba, proves to be a hit. At just over two metres tall, she is definitely one to watch this year.

    The biggest news of the whole off-season was the return of Roses star Serena Guthrie to Team Bath. To have one of the world’s best players back after four seasons away, will no doubt be a huge boost. Two other positive signings are the Australian shooters, Kim Commane and Beryl Friday. Overall, it is a Bath squad that should give their fans great hope for finals success.

    Serena Guthrie (photo May Bailey)

     

    What can be expected of London Pulse? What can they achieve in their first year in the big time? With Roses’ captain Ama Agbeze at the helm, her experience added to that of Shantal Slater (Jamaica) and Loreen Ngwira (Malawi) could help a talented group of youngsters do great things for the first London based franchise in the league. Anything’s possible.

    Among other teams, there are several big stories. One player that people will be waiting to see is fan favourite Cathrine Tuivaiti who has joined the Sirens this year. Can she lift the Claire Maxwell led team to new heights this year? And then there’s Mikki Austin, who was made Director of Netball at Surrey Storm at the age of just 24. She faces a tough task, but has the right attitude to succeed at this level. Look out for the South Africans, Sigi Burger and Shadine van de Merwe.

    Then there is the tale of the two Welsh shooters. Georgia Rowe has moved from Celtic Dragons to Severn Stars. Stars have been performing quite well in the pre-season as they look to improve on last year’s sixth place finish. Meanwhile, Chelsea Lewis has returned to take Rowe’s place at Dragons after a stint at Bath. Dragons have finished at the bottom of the table two years running and Lewis will be trying to rectify that.

    Now For Some Predictions

    I’ve gathered the thoughts of Sacha Shipway and Rona Hunnisett, as well as my own. This is the order we think the ten teams will finish in after the home and away rounds. But really, we’re only guessing, until the players get out there and sort it out. The season promises so much, with so many different storylines to play out until we get to the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final in May.

    Ian Harkin
    1 Wasps
    2 Thunder
    3 Bath
    4 Mavericks
    5 Lightning
    6 Stars
    7 Sirens
    8 Pulse
    9 Storm
    10 Dragons

    Sacha Shipway
    1 Wasps
    2 Mavericks
    3 Bath
    4 Pulse
    5 Lightning
    6 Stars
    7 Thunder
    8 Storm
    9 Sirens
    10 Dragons

    Rona Hunnisett
    1 Wasps
    2 Thunder
    3 Bath
    4 Mavericks
    5 Lightning
    6 Sirens
    7 Stars
    8 Pulse
    9 Storm
    10 Dragons

    #1186133
    TheBroadbean
    • Posts: 426

    Member since:
    Apr 30, 2013

    Yep Ian, that is the order I had too.

    Great write up.

     

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