Leeds Rhinos overcame an injury crisis to claim a memorable 50-44 win over Surrey Storm as the Vitality Netball Superleague continued in Wakefield.
The new franchise suffered injuries to three of their starting seven as Donnell Wallam, Fi Toner and Tuaine Keenan were ruled out.
But this only seemed to boost the determination of Dan Ryan’s side to overcome Mikki Austin’s Surrey Storm and they overturned the odds for a second win of the season.
Little separated the two sides for the first half with Rhinos winning the first quarter by a single goal and Storm coming back in the second period to finish the half with an advantage of two.
Rhinos continued to put in a solid team performance, building in confidence and capitalising on crucial turnovers to go ahead with just 12 minutes to go.
Six goals split the teams at the end of the match with Rhinos taking the three points after a resilient performance, winning 44-50.
At the age of 37, @jadeyclarke somehow manoeuvres her body enough to keep that ball on court 💪
Quick-thinking and athleticism on show from the Vitality Rose 🧠 pic.twitter.com/KXoBbHR1wK
— Vitality Netball Superleague (@NetballSL) February 21, 2021
Strathclyde Sirens also secured their second win, defeating Celtic Dragons 35-52.
Despite the much-improved display by the Welsh side, Dragons suffered a third consecutive defeat as they remain on the hunt for vital points to kickstart their 2021 campaign.
Sirens’ attacker Lynsey Gallagher was forced off with an injury after just two minutes, but replacement Emma Barrie slotted into the line-up at goal shooter with Bethan Goodwin moving out to goal attack.
The new partnership developed quickly with Sirens taking a 13-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Dragons found their fluency as the game progressed with shooter Amy Clinton maintaining her excellent record under the post.
Yet it was not enough to come away with anything against Sirens who took the game away from them with a run of seven straight goals in just four minutes.
Manchester Thunder proved why they are the reigning champions as they put in a seamless performance to defeat London Pulse 57-30.
They raced out of the blocks, claiming their dominance from the first whistle which Pulse struggled to keep up with.
Thunder stood strong in defence, securing early turnovers which were consistently turned into goals.
This continued throughout the game and after rattling off eight goals without a response from Sirens, their confidence only grew and after just 12 minutes they had an 11-goal advantage.
The match continued in the same vein with the established partnership of the returning Kerry Almond and Emma Dovey playing a key part in their success.
The London side never gave up, they made a bright start to the second half, but a mix of unforced errors and Thunder’s dominance resulted in a tough day for Pulse.
Loughborough Lightning put in a solid team performance to secure their second win of the season defeating Saracens Mavericks 60-35 and putting a stop to their perfect start.
Lightning got off to a quick start and despite a response from Mavericks, the pressure from the defensive end in particular, proved to be too much.
Turnovers were quickly converted to goals as Lightning took control of the game and despite a wealth of changes made by Kat Ratnapala, the damage was already done.
Surrey Storm and Celtic Dragons played again on Monday night with Storm getting back to winning ways with a 56-40 result.
The typically decisive third quarter was where Storm pulled away, stretching their advantage to eight goals, before stamping their authority in the final 12 minutes to come away with a convincing win.
Team Bath came out on top against Wasps by just five goals, winning 44-39.
It took Wasps a while to settle into the game and with Bath converting turnovers to goals, they found themselves going into the second half 25-15 down.
Despite a more confident performance from Wasps in the second half as they kept chipping away at Bath’s lead, the damage was already done in the first half and Bath’s perfect start to the season continues with three out of three wins.
The Superleague continues with Round 4 on Sunday 28 February. Severn Stars, who didn’t feature in Round 3, take on reigning champions Manchester Thunder to kick start the weekend.
Strathclyde Sirens will be hoping to continue their current form as they take on London Pulse, while Wasps will be looking to get back to winning ways after two straight defeats when they play Surrey Storm.
Leeds Rhinos return against an in-form Loughborough Lightning to round off the Sunday fixtures.
The action continues on Monday as Celtic Dragons look for their first win of the season against Saracens Mavericks and Loughborough Lightning go again as they take on Severn Stars.