29 Mar 2024

Leeds Rhinos 64 Rhinos Netball 60

By Tyler-Sue Chapman

Leeds Rhinos Netball weathered the storm to earn  their second win of the season after a gritty fight against Surrey Storm at the EIS in Sheffield.  

Caroline O'Hanlon was still ruled out through injury, which meant Liana Leota named an unchanged side for the first time this season with Cassie Howard retaining her place at centre and Amelia Hall at wing attack.

The game was in the balance for the majority of the game, but in the final quarter, despite mistakes from both teams, some big moments from Michelle Magee and Geva Mentor eased the pressure and the cool heads of Player of the Match Joyce Mvula and Harriet Jones meant Leeds were able to keep the scoreboard just ticking ahead in their favour.

Expectations before the game were that it would be a tight contest with Storm sitting seventh in the league and Rhinos sitting eighth and the fixture lived up to those predictions.

Cassie Howard got the game underway, and Harriet Jones slotted away the first goal of the fixture. Visitors Surrey Storm took an early two goal lead but the defensive efforts from Geva Mentor and Zoe Davies saw the game level up at 5 a piece. The lead switched between both sides, but Rhinos remained resilient and held off a determined Surrey Storm. Davies earned ball and allowed her side to take the lead for the first time in the game. Tight defensive pressure from Rhinos slowed Storms build towards the circle and allowed Rhinos to enter the first break with a one goal advantage, 16-15.

Rhinos maintained a two-goal lead for the first few minutes of quarter two before some unforced errors allowed the visitors to re-level the game at 27 all.  Surrey Storm then took the lead by one goal, but the defensive efforts of the home side meant this wasn’t for long. As a unit Rhinos forced Storm into making errors which gave them the opportunity to reach a three-goal lead. Rhinos entered the half time break four goals ahead, 34-30.

Harriet Jones started the second half showing real confidence which allowed Rhinos to maintain their lead. Surrey Storm came our firing to try reduce the deficit and after a few errors from Rhinos the game returned equal at 39 all. Rhinos home crowd at the EIS Sheffield erupted in chants and Storm felt the pressure and threw the ball off the side line. Mvula dominated the circle and slotted away three in a row. The visitors slotted a goal through the net just before the end of quarter three which meant Rhinos entered the last quarter three goals ahead.

Howard put her body on the line, but Storm remained successful at getting the shot away. Amelia Halls speed and athleticism paired with Mvula’s impressive split land allowed Rhinos to keep a hold of the game. Rhinos’ defensive efforts continued with tips happening all round the court, but none created possession. A missed shot in the final few minutes from Rhinos allowed Storm to reduce the gap back to just one goal. Mvula caused confusion within the circle for Storm and after the ball switched between both sides multiple times it was Howard who brought calmness and composure back to the squad. Leota made no changes to the on court seven throughout the game and the team on court grinded out a four goal win, 64-60.

Rhinos netball return to the road for their next three fixtures, they face Team Bath next at the Team Bath arena next Friday (April 5th).

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