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R7: Stars Vs Rhinos

Leeds Rhinos were pushed all the way in their against Severn Stars at the University of Worcester Arena.

Tracey Robinson’s side were looking for another win after defeating Wasps a week prior at home making them eager to leave Worcester with both the three points and back-to-back wins for the first time this season. Severn Star, however were also aiming for success after a disappointing defeat at home to Celtic Dragons.

Jade Clarke got the fixture underway by taking the first centre pass of the game, but Liana Leota made an instant interception allowing Issy Eaton to get Stars onto the scoreboard. Amy Clinton soon took the first goal for Rhinos and, after patience and assertive play, the game was levelled at 5-5.

A quick centre pass from Stars and an attacking contact called against Rhinos saw the game extend to three (8-5). A missed shot for Rhinos saw possession turn to Stars but co-captain Clarke took an intercept to regain the ball and give the Rhinos shooters a second chance. Vicki Oyesola was strong for the rebound and a quick attacking play between Clinton and Brie Grierson saw Clinton add another goal to her tally.

Clarke showed patience in attack and determination in defence which quickly saw the game level up at 9-9. Grierson fooled Stars defence with a fake pass that found Clinton under the post, allowing Rhinos to take the lead by one goal (11-12). A strong end to the quarter from Stars meant that Rhinos entered the break behind by two goals. 15-13.

Rebakah Airey entered the game at goal keeper for the second quarter with Tuaine Keenan moving to the bench. Airey got a tip instantly but the ball went off the backline, Stars remained calm and took that ball to goal. Airey remained strong under the post and earning another rebound however Clinton couldn’t keep hold of the ball and play became end-to-end without a goal.

Clinton recomposed both sides and, after strong defensive pressure, the ball was forced off the backline for the Stars attack. Rhinos transitioned well and Clinton levelled the game back up to 17-17. Airey remained confident and successful in defence earning multiple interceptions as well as disrupting Stars shooters which allowed Rhinos to create a four goal lead 20-24.

Amelia Hall took to court in the wing attack position which saw Grierson move to the bench. Hall instantly started strong and kept control of a high ball, feeding Rushton under the net allowing her to extend their lead to 23-28. Oyesola took a flying intercept but was called for footwork, Stars took the pass quickly and Eaton continued to add to Stars tally. Clinton sank the last shot of the half to retain Rhinos five-goal advantage. 25-30.

Robinson made no changes to start the second half and, after a couple of missed shots from the Rhinos shooting duo Clinton and Sienna Rushton, the gap shortened to just two at 28-30. Smart play from Paige Reed who played the ball off the post from the backline increased Stars confidence which was bolstered by Eaton who added bring them level at 31-31.

The ball was forced off the sideline for Rhinos but Airey remained composed and kept control of the ball. Stars were quick on their transition to defence and regained possession and, after a quick passage of play down the court, it was Stars with a two-goal advantage at 33-31. Rushton and Oyesola picked up ball for Rhinos and the advantage had soon switched back into their favour but the Stars shooters remained confident and kept adding goals.

Paige Kindred moved from the bench into the goal defence position for her first appearance of the season. Kindred also made an instant impact by blocking out Reed allowing Airey the space to take the rebound but Stars mid-court hunted the ball down early and regained themselves possession. Reed received a penalty call with a second remaining within the circle allowing her time to take the shot, Reed was successful meaning Rhinos ended the third quarter behind by two goals 41-39.

Grierson re-entered the court at wing attack for the final quarter. Clarke got the final period of play underway and the pinpoint accuracy on the feed from Grierson allowed Clinton to sink another. Grierson took a penalty pass finding Clinton under the post for another goal. Kindred and Clarke combined well to pick up ball but Humphrys for Stars regained possession for the home side.

Oyesola rejoined the game at goal defence putting Kindred back on the bench. Oyesola picked up a rebound just seconds after coming back on to court, Rushton remained calm on the transition and reduced the deficit to three 47-44.

Strong defensive pressure from Rhinos caused Stars to be called for a held ball, Clinton was composed holding strong under the post and continued to reduce the deficit. A missed shot from Stars allowed Oyesola to tip the ball into Clarkes hands and after a quick transition Rushton levelled the game to 47 all with just minutes remaining.

Rhinos remained resilient and composed and took their own centre pass to goal giving them a one goal advantage. Hollingworth picked up a loose ball and a clean shot from Clinton saw Rhinos lead extend to two 47-49. Stars weren’t ready for defeat just yet and earned a turnover on the next centre pass and after some smart play which saw Reed home alone the game yet again was back level at 49 a piece.

Clarke was called for being offside but the ball was thrown into the hands of Oyesola, Rushton remained strong in the circle despite falling to the floor and added an important goal 49-50. Airey continued her defensive ways earning herself another tip of the ball, Clinton finished it extending the lead to two with a minute and a half remaining. Oyesola picked up a ball which had bounced off the post acting as Rhinos 8th player on court, after a quick transition the game was finished and Rhinos had taken the win 49-53.

This result means Rhinos has back to back wins for the first time in the 2022 season, Rebekah Airey very deservingly also earned the Gilbert Player of the Match award. Rhinos netball now immediately face the journey up to Manchester where they will face Manchester Thunder in less than 24 hours in the northern derby at the AO Arena on Saturday 12th March.

Gilbert Player of the Match: Rebekah Airey (Leeds Rhinos)

Match report provided by Leeds Rhinos.

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