Severn Stars fell to a 49-53 loss against Leeds Rhinos in a thrilling contest that saw them leading with 15 minutes to go.

The team led after the first quarter to the delight of the home crowd at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday (March 11), but in a swing of fortunes ended up down by five at the end of the second.

Stars fought back for a slender lead going into the final quarter, but, despite an improved performance, it was the Rhinos who took the three points after four fast goals in the closing stages.

The result leaves Stars second from bottom in the Netball Superleague.

The game began with intense pressure as Stars captain Liana Leota overturned play instantly with an interception to break Rhinos’ centre pass and put her side ahead after shooter Isabelle Eaton converted.

As Rhinos looked to kickstart their game, Stars goal defence, Lucy Herdman, was there to nullify their attack.

Leota and Eaton combined on numerous occasions to end the quarter ended with Stars ahead, 15-13.

In the second, Rhinos showed much more intensity, with substitute Rebekah Airey proving to be the difference.

Rhinos took the lead for the first time after a fast passage of play in the mid court. The pace of Rhinos’ attacks continued to be a threat, and an improved performance earned them the lead, 25-30, at the half-time interval.

Stars regained their first quarter form, with defender Dee Bolakoro making a crucial interception in the Rhinos’ attacking third before recycling the ball at pace. Three quick consecutive goals from Stars brought the game to within two.

Leota and goal attack Paige Reed linked up well with fast play, enabling Eaton to convert to equal the match, and it didn’t take long for Stars to draw ahead after Reed converted the next two.

But Rhinos continued to make their presence felt, with defender Airey there to intercept the play and provide a counterattack. It was all to play for as the third quarter drew to a close, 41-39.

Rhinos showed no signs of slowing down in the final quarter as shooting duo Amy Clinton and Sienna Rushton took their chances, drawing the game level at 47-47.

A nail-biting end saw Rhinos convert three consecutive shots to take the victory, 49-53.

Stars move on to the next game, at home to Loughborough Lightning at the University of Gloucestershire Arena on Saturday, March 19, at 6pm.