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Leota rues costly errors in Rhinos’ defeat to Stars

Liana Leota says individual errors proved costly in Leeds Rhinos’ 57-41 defeat to the Severn Stars on the opening weekend of the Netball Super League season.

Following last season’s seventh-place finish, the Rhinos will be hoping to close the gap to the qualifying final series places, but head coach Leota says there are lessons to be learnt after a disappointing defeat on Saturday.

“I think we didn’t know what to expect from the Stars,” said Leota. “So for me we needed a benchmark whether we won or lost. It was about where we’re sitting currently, how our structures are faring to others and what we need to do next.

“So I’m disappointed with the goal loss, I thought we could have been closer and taken that game to be honest. But I think there were too many individual errors, we threw away far too many balls, especially early in the game and we didn’t get on that scoreboard.”

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Highlights of the Netball Super League match between Severn Stars and Leeds Rhinos

Rhinos star Caroline O’Hanlon celebrated a landmark of 150 appearances in the Netball Super League with two winners’ medals and an unbeaten season among the standout moments of her career.

“I didn’t think I would [make 150 appearances], I didn’t realise until during the week. I’m very proud to have played that many games in the Super League, just disappointed that the result was the way it went”, said O’Hanlon.

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Highlights of the Netball Super League match between Strathclyde Sirens and Team Bath

She also mirrored her head coach’s thoughts on errors and a lack of precision in their play, but highlighted that having a new team and debutants to the league will bring teething issues, which will resolve with time.

“It’s a whole new team again this season, so we’re trying to establish connections. Probably still very disappointed with some of our execution and obviously structures and connections will build, but just the execution of skills and passing is probably something we’d be disappointed about,” said O’Hanlon.

“The Stars were a good team, they’re well organised, very structured and well drilled but we need to learn and build and do it quickly because we have another big game coming up next week.

“We have a lot of players who are only learning and new to the Super League. That experience will come like I said, a few nerves there and going out to represent this club is pressure for everyone. That’s under our belt now, so we can park that hopefully, put in a good training week and come out next week.”

‘Awesome’ Baylis stars for Lightning

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Highlights of the Netball Super League match between Loughborough Lightning and Surrey Storm

The opening weekend also saw defending champions Loughborough Lightning come out 63-50 winners against Surrey Storm. Bella Baylis was named player of the match as she replaced captain Nat Panagarry in the second quarter to earn huge plaudits from her coach.

“She was awesome, I’m really proud of her performance,” said Lightning coach Vic Burgess.

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Highlights of the Netball Super League match between London Pulse and Manchester Thunder

Two of last season’s top four met in the most highly anticipated match of the day, but it was last season’s finalists London Pulse who fell to a disappointing 40-56 defeat to Manchester Thunder at a packed Motorpoint Arena. Head coach Sam Bird said a slow start meant her team could never quite recover to find a win on Saturday.

“It was tough, and we were expecting tough – they are hard to beat and they played really well, and we were a little bit disconnected,” said Bird.

“We will look at our connectivity, we had a lot of players running away from the ball, so it’s about coming back to our principles and getting the players what our principles are.

“Too many unforced errors, confusion between who was driving for the ball to draw a player and who wanted it. And Thunder came off the body, confused the space rather than us find them and then come off them, so it was really indecision on the through court play.”

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Highlights of the Netball Super League match between Cardiff Dragons and Saracens Mavericks

Full opening weekend Netball Super League results

Severn Stars 57-41 Leeds Rhinos
Loughborough Lightning 63-50 Surrey Storm
Strathclyde Sirens 49-53 Team Bath
London Pulse 40-56 Manchester Thunder
Cardiff Dragons 48-48 Saracens Mavericks

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