Despite a spirited showing in the third quarter, Leeds Rhinos were unable to overturn the first half deficit as they fell to a 48-66 loss to Surrey Storm in their first home game of the season.
Mikki Austin took the first centre of the game for Storm which Proscovia Peace put straight through the net before Storm turned over a Rhinos centre pass and took a three goal lead, converting from their own centre pass.
Rhinos were patient with the ball as they looked to reach Ellie Bird who got their first goal of the game. Paige Reed got her first of the game after Leah Middleton went out on the fly leaving the space under the post.
Bird then did extremely well to keep the ball on court and after swinging the ball around the circle, Bird added another. Rhinos had a few unforced errors and the ball went flying off the backline on multiple occasions allowing Surrey Storm to extend their lead out to four.
Vicki Oyesola worked tirelessly and forced Storm off the backline allowing her side to reduce the deficit to two with three minutes remaining in quarter one. A couple more interceptions for Storm saw them enter the first break ahead by four goals, 12-16.
Storm started the second quarter strong, turning over Rhinos first centre pass and taking the first three goals of quarter to stretch their lead to 12-19.
Rhinos were forced to be patient and used Rosie Harris in the centre third to reset before Reed netted Rhinos first goal after the restart.
Too much was put on the ball into Bird and multiple unforced errors allowed Storm to extend their lead out to ten goals.
Elle McDonald and Caroline O’Hanlon combined well but a held ball gifted the ball back to Storm. Oyesola then turned over another ball and patient hands from O’Hanlon allowed the space in the circle to open up, so McDonald could find Bird under the post.
With the gap still at ten, head coach Liana Leota made two changes with McDonald moving to centre and Brie Grierson entering the game at WA.
The ball went back and forth between both sides and it was Storm that edged even further ahead, 17-34. Oyesola continued to work hard and stopped the feed into Peace allowing Rhinos to add a couple more goals to their tally. c
Michelle Magee and Rosie Harris combined well as a unit and came out with possession, however, the ball was lost over the backline. Oyesola denied Storm getting the ball into the circle seconds before the buzzer went for the half time break.
Nia Jones entered the game at WD for the start of the second half with Oyesola moving to GD and Millie Sanders took to court in the GK bib.
Again, Storm started the quarter strongly with a turnover however, Rhinos fought every passage of play and eventually took their own centre to goal, 20-37.
Rhinos converted one of Storm’s centre passes alongside another of their own to then make it 23-38.
After going goal-for-goal it was Rhinos that took the first interception, and after a lot of physical and fast play up and down the court the deficit was back to ten, 35-45.
Storm ended the third quarter strongly taking a Rhinos centre pass to goal, reinstating a 12 goal advantage with one quarter left to play.
Storm took the first centre pass of the final quarter and instantly converted as they continued to be clinical in attack.
Austin picked up a caution, but Rhinos managed to get the ball through the net as Paige Reed moved the ball at speed and was successful on a long shot, 44-60.
Cassie Howard entered the game at centre for her second Netball Super League appearance within the same weekend. She made an instant impact creating two turnovers but ultimately nothing could stop Storm from finding Peace as the visitors took the win, 48-66.