Severn Stars fell to a disappointing 49-53 loss despite an improved performance after leading at the end of quarters one and three.
A tight first quarter ended with the home side ahead at 15-13 as they looked to right their wrongs after a disappointing game against Celtic Dragons on Monday.
As the half time mark drew upon the game, Leeds Rhinos’ intensity increased, and they were able to claw back the deficit from Q1 to lead by five with a score line of 25-30.
The two sides were on each other’s backs in the remaining two quarters but after four fast goals in the closing stages of Q4, it was the Rhinos who secured all three points at the final buzzer.
Stars started with high pressure as captain Liana Leota overturned play instantly with an interception to break Rhinos’ centre pass and put her side ahead after Isabelle Eaton converted.
It was Melissa Bessell’s side who shone the brightest in the first quarter after Leota once again produced another no-look pass which found the arms of Eaton, who scored.
As Rhinos looked to kickstart their game, goal defender Lucy Herdman was there to nullify their attack as she intercepted their passage of play.
Stars’ Summer Artman looked to do everything right after being first to the rebound, but her pass was caught by Rhinos’ Jade Clarke.
Bessell’s side mount a fast attack as Leota finds Eaton in aches of space and the 17-year-old continued her fine form to capitalise and bring the game level at 12-12.
After a much-improved performance, Stars led 15-13 at the end of Q1.
Starting Q2 with much more intensity, Rhinos replaced Tuiane Keenan with Rebekah Airey who proved to be the difference for her side.
Rhinos took the lead for the first time in the second quarter after Sienna Rushton converted her shot following a fast passage of play in the mid court.
Katie Harris helped her side equalise after keeping the ball in play and was able to stabilise herself to produce a high ball into the arms of Eaton, who once again sunk her shot.
A double change for Stars saw Paige Reed replace Harris and Herdman re-entered the court for Dee Bolakoro.
The pace of Rhinos’ attacks continued to be a threat for the Stars as Amy Clinton broke through the defence, but Artman and Herdman were first to the rebound and regained possession for the home side.
An improved half for Tracey Robinson’s side saw the Rhinos lead 25-30 at the half time mark with substitute Airey making all the difference with some vital defending.
Bessell’s side regained their form from Q1 as they started strongly with Bolakoro making a crucial interception in the Rhinos’ attacking third before recycling the ball at pace.
Three quick consecutive goals from Stars brought the game to just a two-goal difference but it was the Stars who held the momentum.
Leota and Reed linked up well with fast play as Reed offloaded the ball to Eaton who equalised for her side, but it didn’t take long for Stars to lead after Reed converted the next two.
Despite an improved quarter from Stars, Rhinos’ defender Airey was there to cut out the danger as she flew into the air to intercept the play and provide a counterattack.
As Q3 drew to a close, Bessell injected the pace of Nicole Humphrys as she looked to keep her side in it all to play for in the remaining minutes of the quarter.
Paige Kindred came on to make her debut for the Rhinos this season as she replaced Vicki Oyesola in the goal defence role.
As the buzzer is ready to sound, Reed converted her penalty shot to increase the Stars lead to 41-39 at the end of Q3.
The closely contested game saw both sides come out of the blocks with high intensity in the final 15 minutes with neither side making a change.
Stars continued to lead by three after Eaton cleverly span off the back of Airey and received the pass in space, dispatching the shot.
The Stars were in touching distance of the win, but the Rhinos were not slowing down as Clinton and Rushton continued to take their chances where they drew the game level at 47-47.
Oyesola sprung into action once again as she jumped to collect Eaton’s rebound and turned over the place.
A nail-biting end saw Rhinos convert three consecutive shots to hand Robinson’s side all three points as the game ended 49-53.