Severn Stars travel to Belle Vue on Saturday, April 9 where they are set to face the only team to retain a 100%-win rate this season – Manchester Thunder.
Thunder crossed the halfway point in the season with an important victory over the current reigning champions Loughborough Lightning, staying top of the league table with 11 wins.
The side come into round 12 off the back of a 59-50 win over bottom of the league’s Celtic Dragons whilst Stars head into the next round after suffering a disappointing defeat to Surrey Storm.
The home side have scored more than 50 goals in every game this season so will be looking to continue their goalscoring threat, tallying 728 whilst Stars have totalled 477 goals.
Previously in round two, Karen Grieg’s side secured an enthralling 70-45 win over Stars, but Bessell’s team will be hoping to rectify the past result this time out.
Stars have just one win in the past nine league meetings after a tightly contested battle in round 14 of the 2019 season. The side earned all three points after a 50-47 win.
Thunder, on the other hand, have completed the double over Stars for three seasons, with their first dating back 2017. The side hit 60+ past Stars in both games that season and secured six points following their 63-42 and 60-45 wins.
2018 saw Stars enter their second season in the VNSL but fell to two defeats against Thunder once again. In round one, Stars came within touching distance to the win but a last-minute winner from Thunder saw them take all three points, winning 48-47.
Despite the consecutive losses, Stars have displayed elements of promise and have welcomed back Cat Tuivaiti who has already stamped her mark in the league after producing her signature no look passes.
Tuivaiti has started the previous two fixtures as she begins to rebuild match fitness after suffering from a calf injury. Goal attack Paige Reed has partnered the former Strathclyde Sirens shooter and has begun to create a formidable partnership.
Captain Liana Leota continued to start in the midcourt role and has featured in the centre position for the previous two games alongside both Bethan Dyke and vice-captain Iman Thomas.
Bessell will be looking to build on from their first quarter performance and success against Storm and may look to retain the starting seven in which both Lucy Herdman and Dee Bolakoro starting in the defence.
For opponents Thunder, they may be without goalkeeper Kerry Almond who was forced off with an injury and received treatment in their previous game. Millie Sanders may feature in the starting seven after replacing Almond during their game against Dragons.
Stars will have a tough battle on their hands with both Thunder attackers. Joyce Mvula and Eleanor Cardwell have provided a dangerous threat throughout the season as they place fourth and fifth in total goals across the league, scoring 627 between them.
Natalie Metcalf, who was A part of the current reigning Commonwealth Champions team, could retain her place in the starting line-up after securing the play of the match award against Lightning in round 10.
The two teams will face off in round 12 of the Vitality Super League on Saturday, April 9 with the first centre pass taking place at 17:00.
Written by Grace Gunn