Manchester Thunder and Team Bath both emerged victorious from their first matches of a double-header Superleague weekend.
The two sides face each other on Monday in a crucial title race encounter.
Loughborough Lightning beat Saracens Mavericks to chalk up a sixth consecutive win and stay second
Celtic Dragons held their nerve to record their first win at the 14th time of asking with a 39-48 win over out of form Surrey Storm.
Thunder and Bath won their respective matches as the Black and Yellows overcame a tough test in Pulse, edging a 52-40 win and Bath beat fellow top-four opposition Wasps by just four goals to set up an exciting contest on Monday.
Third from bottom Severn Stars inflicted a second defeat of the weekend on Storm, who are without a win since Round 3 when they beat Dragons.
Leeds Rhinos won their first match of the bumper weekend with a 69-51 victory over Strathclyde Sirens, who had beat Pulse the previous day to go within one point of Rhinos.
Mavericks, who had lost four of their last five games, picked up a much needed win over a confident Dragons side fresh from victory over Storm and continue their hunt for a top-four spot.
How is the league shaping up?
Now that the Superleague has passed the halfway point, we are starting to get a better idea of who is going to finish where – with the top seven franchises pulling away and forming a noticeable gap between themselves and the bottom four sides.
Monday’s match between Bath and Thunder may not necessarily affect the current standings or the state of the top four – although a Thunder win could see them leapfrog Lightning into second spot, depending on goal difference – but it could be a good indicator of things to come at the end of the season.
The team that finishes first will play the team in fourth spot as second place play third in the semi-finals – meaning we could very well be seeing a preview of the Grand Final.
That being said, it would be foolish to rule out an impressive Lightning side who have lost just two matches all season and have been consistently well drilled by head coach Sara Bayman.
At this point, it seems unlikely that the top three will drop out of the play-off places, but that coveted fourth place is still very much up for grabs.
With only a three point gap between Mavericks and Wasps, who have won the Superleague twice, and some inconsistent form from the Coventry-based side, challengers Mavericks and Rhinos will hold out hope.
Rhinos could stake a real claim for the top-four with a win over Wasps on Monday, after they also beat fellow play-off contenders Mavericks in Round 12.
Sirens continue to impress and could achieve their strongest ever finish to a Superleague season if they can win three of their remaining six matches – the Scottish outfit finished sixth in 2017 with a total of 27 points.
As for the rest of the table, there is a dramatic rift between seventh place Sirens, who have 20 points, and the bottom four of Pulse, Stars, Storm and Dragons.
With Dragons putting their first win of the season on the board and exhibiting some promising performances against Bath and Wasps they will be hoping to capitalise on Storm’s poor form and get off the bottom of the table.
Results & fixtures
Round 13 and 14
Friday, 30 April
Surrey Storm 39-48 Celtic Dragons
Saracens Mavericks 47-55 Loughborough Lightning
Saturday, 1 May
Surrey Storm 39-46 Severn Stars
London Pulse 38-48 Strathclyde Sirens
Saracens Mavericks 59-39 Celtic Dragons
Sunday, 2 May
Strathclyde Sirens 51-69 Leeds Rhinos
London Pulse 42-50 Manchester Thunder
Team Bath 41-37 Wasps
Monday, 3 May
Manchester Thunder v Team Bath (17:15 BST)
Leeds Rhinos v Wasps (19:15 BST)