NSL 2024 Match Report: Leeds Rhinos v London Pulse

By Paul Prenderville 

London Pulse withstood a second half fight back from Leeds Rhinos to clinch a narrow 51-49 victory in Round 6 of the Netball Superleague on Friday night in Hull.

A scrappy contest featured plenty of tactical tweaks, and plenty of the umpires whistle as defensive pressure got the better of attacking verve from both teams, but it was Pulse who just about held their nerve.

“There was some really good stuff from us, but some pretty clunky stuff as well, coach Sam Bird told Sky Sports.

“I feel like I need to look back at it but on the whole our defence did really well and I was very pleased with how we shut Leeds down.”

A starring performance from captain Zara Everitt in the second quarter turned the game Pulse’s way and proved decisive. A couple of game breaking passes, and key deflections on top of a crucial interception, the only one from either side in the first half, turned an even contest into a seven-goal lead.

Rhinos rallied in the final two quarters, but it was to no avail as Pulse clung on for a two-goal win that saw Bird and her players bounce back from defeat to Severn Stars last time out.

“I would like our attack to be a little bit smoother because we do a couple of good phases of play and then something goes wrong but our transition to goal was better and this is something we have focused on.

“Good things but always more to work on. It is three points on the road and it was so important for us to win today after last week, so we have to be pleased with that.

Pulse stay fourth, level on points with Loughborough Lightning and Severn Stars ahead of the rest of the weekend’s games and have a full week’s rest before hitting the road again in Round 7 to face Cardiff Dragons.


With Jade Clarke ruled out of action, Izzi Phillips returned to the starting line up

and in front of a lively crowd it was Pulse who started faster as Berri Neil and Olivia Tchine settled into their rhythm to establish a four-goal lead after turning over early ball.

In contrast to Pulse sharing the shooting load, Rhinos looked to find a way to feed Joyce Mvula, and a steady feed into the circle from Amelia Hall allowed the hosts to chip away. With just one missed shot between the teams, it was Neil’s miss in the closing stages that allowed Rhinos to get back on level terms for an even first quarter.

Q1: Leeds Rhinos 15-15 London Pulse 

At various stages this season it has been either the attack end or the defence that has broken the game open for Pulse, and midway through the second quarter in Hull it was the turn of the mid-court to take centre stage. Zara Everitt and Phillips began to wrestle control of the game Pulse’s way, and the introduction of Brie Grierson also helped turn the game after the teams had shared the first 10 goals of the half.

Having used her vision to open the game up, Everitt then forced crucial turnovers to open up three and then five goal leads as Pulse went on a 9-2 run to end the half and open up the biggest lead of the game.

Q2: Leeds Rhinos 22-29 London Pulse (7-14)

Pulse’s first half defensive success was coming from their pressure rather than ability to turn ball over but all the while Mvula’s relentless ability to hold was keeping Rhinos interested. At the other end Bird turned to the rotating circle as Nichole Taljaard replaced Neil to try and stem the flow. But driven on by Geva Mentor winning key ball, the home side closed to within three goals.

Both coaches continued to turn to the bench to find answers as the penalty count rose, and the defence ends continued to have the better of things. And it was Fadoju’s brilliant read just as Rhinos threatened to close with one that ensured Pulse maintained a lead going into the final quarter.

Q3: Leeds Rhinos 37-40 London Pulse (15-11)

A fiercely contested match got the final quarter it deserved as both teams battled to gain a physical edge. Pulse starting strongly to stem the Rhinos threat courtesy of Neil and Taljaard.

Neil won a brilliant early ball to give Pulse the initiative off the Rhinos pass, and the England Roses Goal Attack was on the end of the move she had started.

But a dogged home team were not done. Cassie Howard’s re-introduction at Wing Defence saw her win crucial ball, but in Fadoju it is Pulse who have the league’s leading turnover machine.

The Roses defender ensured that despite wholesale changes on the court, Pulse continued to win enough ball to stay in front.

With a six goal lead, Bird turned to Darcie Everitt, Jeresia McEachrane and then Jada Autumn for her NSL debut, and despite a late flurry from the hosts, Pulse had done enough for a valuable three points.

Q4: Leeds Rhinos 49-51 London Pulse (12-11)

Player of the Match – Zara Everitt

Starting 7s

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

Rhinos: GK – Mentor; GD – Davies; WD – M Magee; C – Howard; WA – Hall; GA – Jones; GS – Mvula. Bench – Veevers, E Magee, MacPhail, Emanuel, Braithwaite.


Round 6 Fixtures

Saturday, 2pm – Strathclyde Sirens v Saracens Mavericks

Saturday, 5pm – Cardiff Dragons v Severn Stars

Saturday, 5pm – Manchester Thunder v Loughborough Lightning –  live on BBC iPlayer

Saturday, 6pm – Surrey Storm v Team Bath