Hertfordshire Mavericks endured a rotten 2017 season as they laboured to a seventh placed finish, with a leaky defensive line and a run of poor results ultimately seeing them finish 15 points adrift of the top four. The team in purple may be able to boast England international Sophie Drakeford-Lewis amongst their ranks, but their hopes of claiming the Fast 5 title don’t look great.
Loughborough Lightning fought so valiantly throughout the season as they finished top of the league, only to lose to Wasps in the Superleague Grand Final. The ladies from Leicestershire will certainly be out to prove themselves in the Fast 5s and could take some stopping, especially with Beth Cobden and Natalie Panagarry set to feature.
Manchester Thunder failed to reach a second successive Grand Final after they fell at the semi-final hurdle to eventual champions Wasps. There’s much excitement surrounding Thunder’s line-up ahead of Saturday’s event, with England’s Amy Clinton and All-Star pick Helen Housby the big names at their disposal.
Severn Stars made an indifferent start to life in the Netball Superleague, picking up five wins from 18 games. The Stars won just one of their final seven games last season, form that the team will be desperate to put behind them going into the Fast 5s, but an early exit could be on the cards with double defeat looking more than likely.
Surrey Storm may have clinched the Superleague title in 2015 and 2016, but 2017 saw the girls from Guildford fail to even make the top four. This collapse has certain affected Storm’s odds ahead of this weekend’s tournament, but with All-Star pick Stacey Francis covering at the back, a price of 11/2 do look tempting.
Team Bath snuck into last season’s semi-finals despite being outscored by several teams below them. It was the Somerset side’s formidable backline that proved to be the difference, and it is this factor that the team in blue and yellow will be relying on again this Saturday. However, the game’s fast-scoring format could be Bath’s undoing, even with 25-year-old hotshot Kadeen Corbin providing the firepower upfront.
Team Northumbria failed to make an impression in the 2017 season, picking up just three wins in 18 outings. At odds of 50/1 ahead of this weekend’s competition, there will be few taking a chance on the team from the North East who could be the first side to hit the dust at the O2.
Wasps Netball may have been competing in their first Superleague season, but that didn’t stop the Coventry-based outfit from clinching the title thanks to a hard fought victory over Loughborough Lightning in June’s Grand Final. Wasps will certainly be hoping to add another title to their growing list of honours and look set to field a strong squad with Natalie Haythornthwaite, Rachel Dunn, Fran Williams and George Fisher amongst their ranks.
With £25,000 on offer for the winning team, the stakes at the O2 will be sky high as some of the sport’s brightest stars take to the court. Newly-crowned Superleague champions Wasps are the bookies favourites to take the title and certainly look as though they mean business after opting to field a number of English netball’s biggest names. The team from the Ricoh Arena, who are 5/2 to land the Fast 5 crown, suffered just four defeats all season and look more than capable of delivering a nasty sting to any side that stands in their way.
The teams that look most likely to challenge Wasps are Manchester Thunder and Loughborough Lightning, with the former able to boast a very strong squad, while the latter may be out for revenge following their Grand Final defeat in June. The two sides face one another in the opening round in a match that could go a long way to deciding which team will present the biggest threat to Wasps. Despite their collapse last season, don’t rule out Surrey Storm or semi-finalists Team Bath, but ultimately this looks as though it is Wasps’ title to lose.
Sports.net’s top tip:
Please note, odds may fluctuate.