Leeds Rhinos Netball celebrated another great result on Saturday after they secured a 61-43 win over Severn Stars, from Worcestershire.It was a historic day for Rhinos Netball, with the first home league game in Leeds, played at Leeds Beckett University. A crowd of almost 300 supported these talented U19 athletes to victory, with Ronnie the Rhino and Leeds Rhinos’ player Ashton Golding also in attendance.
The day also included an U15 festival involving 50 athletes from across Yorkshire and beyond, with a demonstration of Mini Netball for primary aged athletes and a meeting with coaches about the future of the Pathway in Yorkshire. This was at the end of a half term week with a superb camp and masterclass, which saw some familiar- and also plenty of new- faces learning about the game.
In the U19 National Performance League (NPL) game, Rhinos stormed the first quarter, running out to an impressive 22-8 lead. Stars didn’t give up and it was 36-21 at half time, and 49-32 going into the final quarter. The crowd were treated to some fast and physical netball, with Rhinos putting out probably their best performance of the season so far, showing much more consistency in this convincing victory.
This was Rhinos’ third win, following a big 61-34 win over the North East in Sheffield, and a one goal win (57-58) over Loughborough Lightning. They’ve suffered just one loss so far, away against London Pulse at Crystal Palace last weekend (55-41).
Ashton Golding said: “This is a fast and physical game, the athletes are strong and skilful, and it was very good to watch. You can’t take your eye off the court in case you miss something.
“I am learning the rules, it is a while since I played at school! These athletes are a credit to the Rhinos Club and are great role models. It was a great atmosphere, with Ronnie playing his part and plenty of Rhinos kit and flags around, as well as lots of noise!”
Emily Perry, Rhinos Pathway coach and U19 head coach said: “I was pleased with the athletes today, they responded well to the challenge, stuck to task and thrived in front of a great home crowd.
“It was fantastic to put on such a show for an NPL match, great to have Ronnie the Rhino and Ashton, our netball ambassador, supporting the squad. It would be great to see as many supporters when we play our next home game at York University on 30 March, the war of the Roses against Manchester Thunder! Tickets will be available soon.”
Anna Carter, director of Leeds Rhinos Netball said: “This was another huge milestone for us; our first home league game in Leeds, so many other athletes and coaches involved in the day and in camps during the week, a good NPL performance and a win!
“We’re showing what is possible in netball with the support of a professional and commercial sporting club, with such a strong charitable arm with Leeds Rhinos Foundation. We really are changing lives through sport and we have big ambitions for the future. It is great that more people are beginning to understand what we are about!”
The starting seven for Rhinos on Saturday was: GS Maisie Bickerton; GA Jessie Ducker; WA Nat Karkoszka; C Georgia Pexton (Capt); WD Erin Hodgkiss; GD Laura Kelly; GK Charlotte Mannall.
The Rhinos bench: Fliss Stokes (played final quarter); Isobel Train (played final quarter); Annie James; Lucy Alexander; Elisha Priestley.
Coaching/support team: Emily Perry; Jan Hemsley, Gerry Plant.