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Wotcha chaps! Here we are again getting underway with another season of hot netball action, well Superleague-stylie anyway, most of the UK’s been putting up shots and waggling hands in defence for months now. It feels like an age since the last top-flight season, but we’re back at last and raring to go in a year that’s leading up to the World Championships.
What’s new then? Well, the powers that be netted a big name signing to sponsor Superleague; Fiat are in the driving seat this term. The season won’t finish until June with the Grand Final currently scheduled for the 9th June, which is a Thursday night which is exactly the same night of the week that the TV games are scheduled for, the timings on that are rather flexible.
No new teams, or re-branded ones this season but there has been a bit of movement by players and there are a couple of new faces in the coaching staff. Missing the action are Sonia Mkoloma and Geva Mentor who have taken up offers to play in the ANZ, their places in the Surrey Storm line up are being filled by Hannah Reid, who impressed in the side’s run-in to the play-offs last time out, and young Katy Holland who showed no sign of nerves on her first outing against Team Northumbria.
Hertfordshire Mavericks nabbed Lindsay Keable from TeamBath when the defender moved back to God’s Own County - Essex. Maggie Jackson also persuaded medical student Layla Guscoth to join the Mavericks defence force and we will watch newbie Sara Eaton’s progress after the teacher came through trials to book her squad place.
There’s no reason why TeamBath won’t be pushing hard to retain their title (surely they get to keep the trophy if they win again). International defence trio Francis, Guthrie and Corbin really came of age in the series with New Zealand and with Pamela Cookey backing up the shooting prowess of Rosie Allison, Jess Garland has another title-contending team to take into the season.
Celtic Dragons are more welsh than ever now as they are officially developing the Wales National Squad, all wanna be singers of Bread of Heaven who play in Superleague will only be able to represent their country by earning a place through the Dragons squad. Coach and National performance director Melissa Hyndman has some imports - you may notice Lottysha Cato first, at 6 foot 6 inches she’s hard to miss and comes to sunny Wales from the hot and spicy island of Grenada.
Glasgow Wildcats have an eye on the 2014 Commonwealth Games where Scotland will be competing for the first. Coach Denise Holland is trying out a new things out watch out for former shooter Lesley MacDonald in the GK bib. The ’Cats also have a new website - check it out www.glasgowwildcats.co.uk.
Northern Thunder started the season with a bang against Hertfordshire Mavericks, they won in Bury by 5 goals, the London side coming back with a vengence in the second half of the match. Karen Greig skippers the side that will keener than ever to finally get through to the Grand Final. Bayman and Clarke make up the spine of the mid-court and of all the teams in the Superleague, Thunder have the most established and experienced squad.
Leeds Carnegie head coach Anna Carter (nee Newell) has her hands full follow the birth of her first son, which means Lisa Ferneyhough takes charge of the side for now and started with a win in Wales. Last year’s fixture was a draw 40-40. Carnegie are another team with plenty of familiar faces from last season, they will be hoping the old guard can push the side into the reckoning in 2011.
Anyone remember one of the Netball Pod Pundits from last season? It’s understandable if you need reminding of Tracey Neville, obviously it’s her shy and retiring ways - she did play a bit of quality netball in the past however, which probably helped her get notices for the Team Northumbria post. Nevs has a young, inexperienced squad who stepped up against Surrey Storm in their opening match. This will be an interesting work in progress.
And we welcome Olivia Murphy’s comeback to the court at Loughborough Lightning. The Netball Pod reckons this is the real team to watch this season as they have the potential to upset the usual suspects. Jo Harten and Becky James are an impressive shooting partnership, Lauren Potter and Joanne Davies are formidable in defence - with their head coach back roaming the thirds, you’ve got to say Lightning have it all.
As regulars will have noticed The Netball Pod has been taking a bit of a break in the off season, to be honest we needed recovery time after the Bournemouth 7s (we’re going back this year and this time we’ll also be playing on court). We are trying to devise a new formula to create a good listen for all concerned and welcome any suggestions (shout@thenetballpod.com).

Lots of Love - The Netball Pod Team x

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Netball Superleague

Results to 31/01/11 Round 2
Herts.Mavericks 60 - 40 Leeds Carnegie
L.Lightning 57 - 52 C.Dragons
N.Thunder 60 - 38 Surrey Storm
T.Northumbria 26 - 59 TeamBath
Team P W L D Pts
Loughboro' Lightning 2 2 0 0 4
Northern Thunder 2 2 0 0 4
TeamBath 1 1 0 0 2
Herts. Mavericks 2 1 1 0 2
Surrey Storm 2 1 1 0 2
Leeds Carnegie 2 1 1 0 2
Celtic Dragons 2 0 2 0 0
Team Northumbria 2 0 2 0 0
Glasgow Wildcats 1 0 1 0 0