By Paul Prenderville 

London Pulse tightened their grip on a top four place in the Netball Superleague but only after a nail biting 45-43 success over local rivals Saracens Mavericks that wasn’t secured until the dying seconds.

Sam Bird’s squad ensured they reached the halfway point of the season in third place and with an eight point gap over fifth-placed Cardiff Dragons.

“It was a bit crazy out there, but we said to the players that Mavs treasure this game – they really want to beat us in the Copper Box, they beat us here last year,” Bird said.

“We knew that Mavs would come and bring their very best performance and only a really strong performance from us was going to be good enough.

“I felt we played well, there wasn’t anything that was particularly wrong, it was just sometimes a little bit scrappy. We scored a couple, then they scored a couple and it was really tight.”

Pulse are back in action at home in Round 10 when Team Bath are the visitors. Tickets are on sale for the Saturday night showdown – tickets are available for all London Pulse home games in.

Pulse were far from their fluid best, and once again it was an incredible defensive shift from the team who racked up their highest interception count of the season on the way to victory.

Funmi Fadoju chalked up her own season high of six interceptions, but no turnover was more important than Player of the Match Halimat Adio’s deflection with 20 seconds remaining that prevented Mavericks having the chance to equalise.

“Hali was awesome in that last five minutes and finally that whole defensive unit shut them down and we found a way through,” said Bird.

“Mavericks are a quality side and it was really good for us to beat them today and we can go into our next game really confident.”

The hard fought victory means it’s now four wins in a row for Pulse who face a third home game in succession when they take on Team Bath in Round 10 and despite the cushion in the race for top four places, there will need to be improvement in the chase for championship ambitions.


Pulse reverted to a familiar starting seven as Izzi Phillips came in for Brie Grierson who is nursing an ankle sprain, and with Jade Clarke also out there was a spot on the bench for training partner Isla May.

It was Pulse who took a tight, low scoring first quarter battling to overcome an early deficit after the visitors had started fast with Goal Shooter Ine-Mari Venter rewarding strong work from Georgia Lees.

But some typically bright defensive play from Pulse saw them fight their way back into it, and thanks to Zara Everitt and Funmi Fadoju turning over crucial ball a lead was soon established and 3-6, became 7-6.

Phillips got in on the act too with an interception, as Pulse looked to preserve their lead, but after Venter had done most of the shooting, Emma Thacker sunk her second shot at goal to ensure the visitors were within one by the end of a tight opening 15 minutes.

Q1: London Pulse 10-9 Saracens Mavericks

Two early goals from Olivia Tchine kept Pulse in front, but Bird’s team lost their way as a 6-2 run from Mavericks, inspired by Venter, saw the visitors move from two goals behind to two goals in front.

The see-saw nature of the contest continued, Pulse seizing their chance to gain the upper hand, and another Fadoju turnover resulted in fine play through the court allowing Tchine to cash in and level the scores.

With the attack end now contributing to the defensive effort, Scholes rewarded Everitt’s persistence by firing into Neil and the Pink and Black shooting circle were making no mistakes. A strong end to the quarter, with Fadoju sitting on four interceptions for the half, took Pulse two clear at half-time of a pulsating encounter.

Q2: London Pulse 23-21 Saracens Mavericks (13-12)

Having edged each of the opening two quarters by just a single goal, Bird opted to stick with her starting seven in pursuit of an advantage but still the teams traded turnovers and scoring bursts.

Razia Quashie’s early interception set Mavs on the way to closing the gap to one, and that defensive quality was equalled by Adio who ensured it was Pulse who stayed clear.

With Fadoju pushing her own interception count up, Scholes and Neil were teaming up to typically telepathic effect in attack, but still Pulse could not shake off the opposition.

A four goal lead with just over five minutes left evaporated as Mavericks offered their own defensive resistance. And once again it was a strong end to the quarter that preserved the Pulse advantage and extended it to three goals.

Q3: London Pulse 36-33 Saracens Mavericks (13-12)

Despite Neil’s early goal, it was Mavs who took the initiative to level what would prove to be a low-scoring quarter.

With defensive units very much on top it looked like Fadoju’s crucial tip, picked up by Phillips would be enough to get over the line, but the Mavs defence stirred into life again to turn a Pulse centre pass and leave the game a goal-for-goal affair.

There was no let up in the drama as a thrilling contest got the end it deserved, the teams traded goals down the stretch until Adio’s crucial contribution that allowed Pulse to retain possession for the closing seconds and having taken the ball into the circle, sink the goal that secured another crucial three points.

Q4: London Pulse 45-43 Saracens Mavericks (9-10)

“I don’t know what came over me, I just wanted to get the ball for the team as we had just scored from a turnover.

“It was pretty much: challenge ball and go for it and it was Funmi who told me to challenge those laterals so I did it and we ended up getting the ball down. 

“Sometimes you can’t hear your own thoughts, but it was so loud we had to use it as motivation and it did.

“When we scored a goal the crowd were so loud and when we got a turnover or a tip they were loud and it just motivated us to keep going.” Player of the Match – Halimat Adio.

Starting 7s

Pulse: GK – Adio; GD – Fadoju; WD – Z Everitt; C – Phillips; WA – Scholes; GA – Neil; GS – Tchine. Bench – D Everitt, McEachrane, Autumn, May, Taljaard.

Mavericks: GK – Quashie; GD – Gibson; WD – Zaranyika C – Masser; WA – Lees; GA – Thacker; GS – Venter. Bench – Oyesola, Fairclough, Rattu, Rothwell, Clarke.


Friday – Surrey Storm 62-48 Strathclyde Sirens

Friday – Team Bath 46-52 Cardiff Dragons

Saturday – Manchester Thunder 67-37 Leeds Rhinos

Saturday – Severn Stars 52-68 Loughborough Lightning