NSL R1: Rhinos 48 Pulse 64
Rhinos started their season against a strong Pulse side and it was Pulse that took the win.
Rhinos Netball travelled to Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena to take on London Pulse in round one of the 2023 Netball Super League. Injuries in the Rhinos squad meant that Leeds had a squad of ten players, with training partner Emilia Roscoe elevated to the squad and Pathway player Amy Braithwaite coming in for her Super League debut.
Pulse got the game underway with the first centre pass. After building and showing patience down the court Rhinos found Ellie Bird under the post to get on the board with her Super League goal. Rhinos maintained possession despite tough defensive pressure from Pulse. Reed was called for breaking but netted a long one on the next centre pass. Rhinos’ defence worked hard and came out with possession, patience was displayed on the pass into Reed to give her enough time to get into her most comfortable shooting position. Both Reed and Bird were shooting successfully over the long arms of Keable and Fadoju despite contact and obstructions called being made, the shot was already through the net. After converting a Pulse centre pass and forcing a held ball Rhinos held a two goal lead, 9-7. Pulse were also forced into letting the ball fall off the backline, allowing Rhinos once transitioned to pull out to a four goal lead 11-7. A few passages of play towards the end of the first quarter went end to end, Reed sank a shot to help settle the game. McDonald found Bird through the eye of a needle to maintain the four goal lead. Magee tipped the ball within Pulses goal circle to deny them of a goal before the end of quarter one.
At the start of the second quarter Pulse once again took the first centre pass, and the first goal. Bird held strong under the post holding off Keable who was pulled up for contact. Rhinos defence worked hard as a unit but were still just inches away from taking the interception on this phase. Rhinos lost possession and Pulse quickly utilised the opportunity to level the game after taking it to goal alongside their own centre pass to make it 18-18. Two attacking obstructions were called against Rhinos and Magee was unlucky with the post getting in her way of trying to win back possession. Keable and Fadoju combined well for Pulse and converted multiple balls to allow them to take a six goal lead with just a couple of minutes remaining within quarter two. A held ball from Rhinos and another intercept from Fadoju saw Pulse pull away and Rhinos entered the half time break nine goals behind 25-34.
Brie Grierson came into the game in the GA position for the start of quarter three. An attacking contact called against Pulse allowed Rhinos to reduce the deficit down to seven from the first phase of play. Pulse were quick back on defence and started to win more balls. A missed shot for both sides ended with Bird putting it through the net 29-39. O’Hanlon found Bird and after reaching for two of her own rebounds she was successful. Sanders earned herself multiple turnovers but not all of these opportunities were converted and taken to goal. Elle Mcdonald displayed excellent vision and accuracy on the feed into Bird. Caroline O’Hanlon reset to the transverse line allowing Grierson the time and space to find Bird 35-42. Some unforced errors from both sides saw the game remain at seven goals the difference. A contact call within the circle ensured that there was enough time on the clock for Bird to add another to make sure Rhinos entered the final break just seven goals behind Pulse Netball.
Bird started the quarter strongly and pulled ball in from up high. Pulse were forced to reset to the transverse line after facing tight pressure from Rhinos defence. Rhinos lost possession and after an unsuccessful tip on the centre third Michelle Magee earned herself the ball in the goal circle. A missed shot for Rhinos saw the gap remain at ten, 43-53 with just ten minutes remaining. Rhinos combined well and worked as a team to earn possession from a Pulse centre pass, Fadoju turned over ball, before Grierson picked it back up and drives into the circle to take the goal 47-55. The post got in the way of the backline pass between Grierson and Bird, Rhinos defence worked super hard but Neil netted another one for Pulse, taking the score to 47-56. A few errors from both sides saw the ball move from end to end before Pulse played the ball around for ages before Magee got a turnover but an offside call was made. Amy Braithwaite entered the court at GS for her super league debut. Magee was cautioned with just 50 seconds remaining for an ‘intentional contact’. Magee got a tip but it was a Pulse backline, Pulse added another with just 20 seconds remaining, rhinos backline with 5 seconds left there was not enough time for a final goal for Rhinos. The game ended 48-64 in favour to London Pulse.
Rhinos netball continue their 2023 Netball Super League campaign next weekend when then take on both Mavericks, away, on 18th February and Surrey Storm at sold out home game the following day.
GK: Millie Sanders
GD: Michelle Magee
WD: Rosie Harris
C: Carline O’Hanlon
WA: Elle McDonald
GD: Paige Reed
GS: Ellie Bird
Subs: Amy Braithwaite, Millie Roscoe, Brie Grierson
GK: Lindsay Keable
GD: Funmi Fadoju
WD: Zara Everittt
C: Jade Clarke
WA: Chelsea Pitman
GA: Berri Neil
GS: Olivi Tchine
Subs: Scholes, Dekker, Rattu, McDonald, Adio
Match Report: Tyler-Sue Chapman, Leeds Rhinos Netball