IT was a mixed weekend for Seven Stars who opened the new Vitality Netball Superleague season with a win and a defeat.

Stars began their 2022 campaign with a 56-47 win against Surrey Storm on Saturday but were then unable to keep pace with Manchester Thunder the following afternoon, going down 45-70.

Round One saw Stars and Storm go head-to-head in round one, with both sides having struggled last season.

There was nothing to separate the sides in the first quarter, which ended tied at 13 apiece, with a clinical display from both teams.

The defensive duo of Lucy Herdman and newcomer Summer Artman made it difficult for Storm, with Northern Ireland international, Michelle Drayne, linking through the court in the centre position.

Stars Captain, Liana Leota, led her side to an early lead in the second quarter and, when Nicole Humphrys took to court at wing defence, she made an immediate impact.

Storm maintained the pressure, making a number of crucial interceptions, however, Stars didn’t panic and maintained their composure, going in 25-23 ahead at the interval.

Errors and turnovers from both sides characterised the start of the third quarter. Stars eventually took control, extending their lead to six goals halfway through the quarter, ending it 38-33 ahead.

In the final quarter, Player of the Match, Paige Reed, kept Stars’ spirits high with her pinpoint passes in the circle and high shooting percentage.

Stars continued to apply pressure throughout court, keeping possession and making crucial turnovers when it mattered and maintained their intensity to the final whistle.

Stars, a joint franchise between the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire, were back in action against Manchester Thunder the following day.

Head Coach, Melissa Bessell, made two changes to the starting line-up, with Nicole Humphrys and Elisha New making up the centre court alongside Leota.

After a goal-by-goal start, a crucial rebound from Thunder saw them take an early lead. Stars added a wealth of experience to the court, with Katie Harris, Michelle Drayne and Dee Bolakoro taking to the court, but Thunder shooters Joyce Mvula and Eleanor Cardwell ensured the scoreboard kept ticking over, ending the quarter 10-19 ahead.

Thunder dominated the start of the second, with several missed opportunities for Stars. Cardwell limped off the court, forcing Thunder to make changes, but they extended the lead to 19-38.

Stars showed increased control throughout the court after the break and good movement in the attacking end, with Reed and Harris linking well, ending the quarter 30–51 behind.

Further changes for Stars included Artman at goal keeper and Jane Taylor joining Reed in the shooting circle. Stars played a much more controlled second half, but ultimately Thunder took the win, 45–70.