Former England internationals Tracey Neville and Karen Greig have been de-selected from the Northern Thunder squad ahead of this weekend’s Netball Superleague fixture against Team Northumbria, after both failed to recover from long term knee injuries. With additional injuries limiting the number of players available for selection for Thunder, coach Marion Lofthouse has named 18 year old Olivia Barber and 17 year old Kate Lightfoot to strengthen her line up. Team Northumbria will be looking to Fijian international Alanieta Mailulu for another inspirational shooting performance to keep up the pressure on the top four. Play starts at the Greenbank Sports Academy in Liverpool on Monday at 7.30pm.
Meanwhile, league leaders TeamBath will be hoping that 13 is their lucky number, as they attempt to register their 13th straight win of the season against Brunel Hurricanes. And, as head coach Jan Crabtree explains, although her side is determined to maintain its 100% record in the competition, they will be looking to the play offs to come:
“I hope to ring the changes and try out some different combinations on Saturday,” she said. “I don’t want to have to ask anyone to play in a combination in the play offs that they haven’t already played in.” The match, at the University of Bath’s Sports Training Village, starts at 5.00pm on Saturday.
Mavericks travel to bottom side Leeds Met Carnegie on Saturday (4.00pm start) looking to register an impressive performance and take strong play off position. Mavericks could go second on goal difference if they win, and Brunel slips up against TeamBath, with only one round of league matches remaining.
In the final game of the weekend, Celtic Dragons entertain Loughborough Lightning (3.00pm start) and will be hoping to cause an upset. Loughborough has been displaying impressive form in the past few rounds, but Dragons ran Team Northumbria close in the previous round of matches, and, on their day, can trouble the best.
The final round of league matches takes place next weekend, 4-5 May 07, before the start of the first round of play offs, on 26 May 07. The Grand Final takes place on 09 June 07 at the Guildford Spectrum Centre at 5.30pm and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.
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Kate Battersby, Roland Garros
Team Bath Netball produced their highest-scoring performance of the Vitality Superleague season so far as they beat Sirens 63-47 to move up to fourth in the table.