By Paul Prenderville
Last Updated: 11/01/19 5:22pm
All eyes will be on Liverpool’s Echo Arena as the Quad Series gets underway but there are four games in the Vitality Superleague this weekend.
Tracey’s Neville’s Vitality Roses take on Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in the latest instalment of the Quads and, while players have been called up for international duty, eight of the 10 Superleague teams will be back in action, with only the Wasps-Manchester Thunder match being switched.
The 2019 season launched with a bang in Birmingham last Saturday with the now annual Super 10 extravaganza, Wasps and Thunder were among the five winners and impressed Sky Sports’ Tamsin Greenway.
Week Two kicks off in Glasgow with two of the other winners from last weekend in action as Strathclyde Sirens host Team Bath. There are then three matches on Saturday.
Strathclyde Sirens vs Team Bath, Friday 7.30pm
Sirens were one of the biggest winners last week with showboating superstar Cat Tuivati showcasing her incredible skills but, more importantly, leading the team to victory over Surrey Storm.
The Scottish franchise have done plenty right on the court and are now determined to follow it up with a real push for the top-four places, and they may not have a tougher test than Team Bath.
Inspired by Serena Guthrie, Bath ran out comfortable 17-goal winners against Dragons in Birmingham and look like they will once again be in the shake-up for the final four
“We are looking forward to what we know will be a challenge when we visit Sirens,” Bath head coach Jess Thirlby said.
“They have had some changes in the off-season and there’s no ignoring the groundbreaking signing of Cat Tuivaiti who is arguably one of the best shooters in the world.
“We know they will be feeling confident after a good opening win against Surrey Storm but we are focusing very much on ourselves, the brand of netball we want to play and the level of performance we know we are capable of.”
Lougborough Lightning vs Severn Stars, Saturday 6pm
One of these two will emerge with a victory on Saturday night having began the season with defeat last weekend, albeit in very different circumstances.
Both franchises are much changed but while Stars acquitted themselves well before losing a thriller to London Pulse, Lightning lost heavily to Wasps.
“There were times where we stuck to what we’ve worked on in training, stuck to the structure and the ball went through really easily – we just weren’t consistent enough,” said Stars captain Iona Darroch.
“Going into the next game away to Loughborough Lightning, it is going to be tough, but we know we have more than we showed, so we have to get out there and prove it.”
Lightning’s new director of netball Sara Bayman will have had much to ponder after their mauling at the hands of Wasps.
Having met in the Grand Final in each of the last two seasons a close contest was anticipated by many, not the 30-goal defeat that followed.
Surrey Storm vs Saracens Mavericks, Saturday 6pm
Both of these sides were on the wrong end of results last week at Super 10, losing to Strathclyde Sirens and Manchester Thunder respectively.
Storm should welcome back Sigi Burger and Shadine van der Merwe, who missed last week’s season-opener while on international duty for South Africa.
“We’re here to compete and not just to make up the numbers,” Storm director of netball Mikki Austin said afterwards.
London Pulse vs Celtic Dragons, Saturday 7.30pm
The Superleague’s newest team, London Pulse, host their first match at the Copper Box Arena safe in the knowledge that they beat Severn Stars last week on their debut.
Pulse’s win last week was described as “edge of your seat stuff” by Greenway, indicating the newbies might be the neutrals’ favourite if they can maintain their exciting style.
Dragons finished bottom of the pile last season and, with one defeat already racked up after the opening weekend, time is of the essence for them to turn their luck around.
Watch every game of the Netball Quad Series which starts on Sunday, coverage is live on Sky Sports Mix and Arena from 3.15pm. Sky Sports will also show every game live of the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup, July 12-21.