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Tamsin Greenway analyzes playoff contenders Vitality Netball Superleague |  Netball News


The Saracens Mavericks are one of four teams vying for the remaining play-off spot (Image credit – Ben Lumley)

Tamsin Greenway takes a closer look at the race for last place in the Vitality Netball Superleague play-offs and applies the rule on the four teams that are still in contention for it.

As we head into the final two rounds of the regular season, the Wasps, Leeds Rhinos Netball, Strathclyde Sirens and Saracens Mavericks are still vying for fourth.

There are only three points separating the Wasps in the fourth and the Mavericks in the seventh, and with all the teams having a different number of games to play, the contest could potentially go all the way to the final tournament.

On Sunday, the Wasps will play their last game of the regular season. Dan Ryan’s Rhinos have a weekend off, the Sirens are playing one of their two remaining games, and the Mavericks are starting their three-game streak.

Vitality Netball Superleague – Matchday 19

Sunday – 12 p.m. Surrey Storm Against Wasps
Sunday – 2 p.m. Strathclyde Sirens vs Celtic Dragons
Sunday – 4 p.m. Team Bath Netball vs. Saracens Mavericks
Sunday – 6 p.m. London Pulse vs. Severn Stars
Monday – 5:15 p.m. London Pulse vs. Saracens Mavericks
Tuesday – 7.15 p.m. Loughborough Lightning vs. Manchester Thunder

This is the first time since 2016 that we risk having a different top four in the semifinals, which is so important to the game. Seeing the emergence of Rhinos and Sirens this season, it has not only elevated the level of competition, but also paved the way for other teams to believe they can do the same.

At the start of the year, I thought the Wasps would win this fourth place. However, they weren’t able to show off their authority when they really needed it, and their Round 18 loss to the Mavericks could prove to be incredibly expensive, especially since they were back in charge.

Having been in the lead for most of the game against the Mavericks, the Wasps didn’t see the game end during the crucial moments and I think that was the story of their season. Along with that, they were also unlucky with injuries and replacements; losing two starting players in the same positions is difficult for a team to recover.

Vitality Netball Superleague race for the top four

Wasps (4th) Leeds Rhino (5th) Sirens Strathclyde (6th) Saracens Mavericks (7th)
Points: 31 Points: 30 Points: 29 Points: 28
May 29 Team bath (L)
May 30 Loughborough Lightning (G) Maverick Saracens (F) Strathclyde Sirens (G)
May 31st Maverick Saracens (G) Surrey Storm (W) Wasps (W)
June 13 Surrey storm Celtic Dragons Team bath
June 14th London Pulse
June 20 London Pulse Manchester Thunder Surrey storm
June 21st Celtic Dragons
Maximum possible points 34 points 36 points 35 points 37 points

With just one game to play against Surrey Storm, a game the Wasps should win, it has left them in a very difficult position as they have to rely on the others around them to slip. That’s why I don’t think the Wasps will make it and get fourth place.

The most important thing now for double champions will be what they learn and what they advance. They have some amazing players, but I think their campaign this year shows how important an offensive leader on the pitch is in your squad.

If you look at the top of the board, Nat Panagarry and Serena Guthrie are the people who coach the team when all else fails. The wasps losing their captain have created another hole to be filled.

I think they’ll spend the offseason thinking about that leadership on the pitch; the players they already have who can step up, and who else they need to get there next year.

Tamsin Greenway analyzes playoff contenders Vitality Netball Superleague |  Netball News

Leeds Rhinos Netball is not only winning, but they are having fun and building up as a team quickly (Image credit – Ben Lumley)

One point behind Wasps in the rankings is the latest franchise in the competition, Leeds Rhinos Netball.

First of all, the determination they have shown to overcome the three key injuries at the start of the season, if not to be in this position, is impressive. From the start Dan Ryan has developed a style and structure for them that allows him to get the most out of every member of his team.

In defense, the unit of Vicki Oyesola, Emily Hollingworth, Fi Toner and Jade Clarke is sticking to their head coach’s plan. The way they hustle and stalk their opponents has paid dividends and it has allowed them to return a lot more balls than I expected at the start of the year.

On offense, the Rhinos clicked. Donnell Wallam was exceptional and the instant connection she formed with Brie Grierson and Rhea Dixon was amazing.

If the Rhinos are in the top four, which I think they will, then it will be interesting to see if they can adapt in the play-offs and really win over their opponent because they don’t. still not beat a top three team. year. Their discipline in defense and their variety in the shooting circle will be key to progress.

Tamsin Greenway analyzes playoff contenders Vitality Netball Superleague |  Netball News

The Strathclyde mermaids have developed superbly over the season (Image credit – Ben Lumley)

Strathclyde Sirens, the team that has taken so much to heart this season, follows the Rhinos closely with 29 points. They are the surprise package of the season and what impressed me the most about them is their constant development.

When you look at the Sirens team, they necessarily don’t have anyone you would call a ‘big name’. There isn’t a Mary Cholhok in the circle, a Laura Malcolm in midfield or an Eboni Usoro-Brown in their lineup. However, over the course of the year each player has grown and appropriated their position and they have become stars in their own right.

The performances that I have seen of Taylor Cullen against Liana Leota and of the young shooting circle of Emma Barrie and Niamh McCall against the pressure of Jodie Gibson and Razia Quashie against Mavericks, have been exceptional.

Tamsin Greenway analyzes playoff contenders Vitality Netball Superleague |  Netball News

Towera Vinkhumbo was instrumental in Sirens (Image credit – Morgan Harlow)

Towera Vinkhumbo must have been the signing of the season, well maybe she’s just behind Donnell Wallam, but she’s up there.

Like Dan Ryan, Lesley MacDonald and Karen Atkinson have done a fantastic job creating a structure for mermaids and it’s a structure that works for the players they have, hence their impressive performances and advancements.

It’s a big demand for them to be in the top four as they take on Thunder and Dragons, and then they should always rely on Rhinos and Mavericks to lose a game.

However, with the Mermaids ending the season playing the kind of netball they are, it lays an incredible foundation for the next one. In addition to the confidence they have gained, they now have a real desire to win, because let’s not forget that Sirens had never won three games in a row before this season!

Mermaids will want to retain as many players as possible and then work hard to keep increasing their attempts at goal.

Tamsin Greenway analyzes playoff contenders Vitality Netball Superleague |  Netball News

The Saracens Mavericks take on Team Bath Netball on Sunday afternoon (Image credit – Ben Lumley)

Finally, there are the Mavericks, who have three more games to play and the most points to gain, but I’m still struggling to put them in pole position.

On Sunday, the Mavericks face Team Bath, then face off against a London Pulse side looking forward to yet another big win, before meeting Surrey Storm.

In my opinion, the Bath game is huge. Yes, the Mavericks were the only team to beat them this year, but it was by one goal – 39-38. At Round Nine it was good for the Mavericks, but it was a terrible day at the office for Anna Stembridge’s team.

At this point in the season, there’s absolutely no way Bath will want to let this happen again. They will know the Mavericks could still be their opponents in the semifinals and having been in that position myself, you would never want to give bragging rights to an opponent entering the semifinals.

To beat Bath, the Mavericks still haven’t done enough to convince me that they’ve solved their big problem – their high error rate. Although they defeated the Wasps in Round 18 and ultimately earned that victory, they lost the majority of that game and at times seven or eight goals.

Mavericks have an exceptional team and if they click they can produce magic on the pitch. Whether they will, and will do so in every game until the end of the season, remains the big question.

As the race for the playoffs draws to a close, one can’t help but think that this is exactly what the league, the fans and the sport needed … a change of order and a battle until ‘at the end.

Sky Sports is your home of netball. The Vitality Netball Superleague continues Sunday with the 19th inning, with four games broadcast consecutively on the Sky Sports YouTube channel starting at 12 p.m. ET.

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