NSL R1: Storm 68 Sirens 56
Scotland’s only super league franchise took on a newly built Surrey Storm in game two.
There have been big changes in squads across the league which has added an extra layer of excitement for fans waiting to see how this season plays out.
With the departure of Gia Abernethy who retired at the end of 2022 season and Taylor McKevitt moving to reigning champions Manchester Thunder there was a significant gap in the mid-court.
Building her squad over the summer and pre-season lead up, Head coach Lesley MacDonald says:
“We are really happy with the recruitment we’ve had this season. Pre-season has allowed us to build our connections and embed the processes in and around our style of play. Yes, there was a hole in our squad but we are really happy with how our new players have come in and it’s now about setting the tone for what we want to achieve this season.”
The match started at a fast and furious pace with lots of strong contests between Vinkhumbo and Peace in the Storm shooting circle. Sirens took longer to settle and cement their connections which allowed Storm to take a 9-point lead in the first quarter Storm 20-11 Sirens. Sirens defence picked up and created some much needed disruption in the Storm attacking end. The instruction from the bench was to break through the storm mid-court and create some more space which the team managed to do and Q2 ended in a draw.
Storm 37-28 Sirens
Co-Captain Beth Dix explained:
“It was disappointing to start off like that, we wanted to come out here and step up earlier. I think we came back really well in the second quarter. We opened up the middle and I though Bethan’s release from the circle was really clear’”
Sirens started second half with Abi Robson coming on at Centre at taking her first Sirens cap. Unforced errors added up from Sirens as Storm opened the gap in Q3. It was almost impossible to defend the overhead ball into Peace. A change of goal keeper brough Vinkhumbo back on and Natalie Bright coming on in GD creating a new combination.
McCall and Guscoth had a physical battle down the other end of the court and despite high shooting stats from both Goodwin and McCall, Storm opened their lead by 14 goals. Storm 57-43 Sirens.
Heading into the final quarter the relentless spirit of Sirens showed up. Creating the connections as a team in defence was a highlight for head coach, Lesley MacDonald;
“We created some opportunity to win more ball towards the later end of the game. That part is most impressive because it requires a lot of hard work and for a team defence to try win some ball off that style showed relentless intensity of our players.”
Vinkhumbo demonstrated her strength and experience with her footwork to block the ball finding Peace and Sirens rewarded her hard work pulling the score line back to 10 points with a signature long-bomb from McCall.
In final 5 minutes of the match Stella Oyella made her Netball Super League debut and bringing all 3 new signing on court together. In true Sirens style the team fought hard until the final whistle.
Storm 68 – 56 Sirens.
Lesley MacDonald reflects on the 2023 season opener;
“I am disappointed with the loss however for the large majority I felt that we competed and contested the match and the players kept to task with what we asked of them. However giving away a lead of 9 goals in the first quarter meant we were always going to be chasing to turn the scoreboard in our favour. The response we gave in the second quarter was awesome. We stuck to task for longer periods and challenged everything. Winning that final quarter creates a really good momentum going into the next match.”
“From an attacking perspective, I was really impressed with how we got the ball to Bethan. We were slick, we used our ball speed and a constant variety of movement to lose the defenders and we knew how physical they would be.”
“Next focus is playing away to Stars on Saturday and taking the momentum we created here today and starting that match with it.”
Sirens play away to Servern Stars Saturday 18th Feb 7pm Live on Sky Sports YouTube
Match Report: Sirens Netball
Image: Ben Lumley