The Netball World Cup opens in Liverpool this week and will see the world’s best players take to the court.
Four of Wasps’ stars from last season will feature at the tournament, with Jade Clarke, Fran Williams and Rachel Dunn selected for England and Bongi Msomi set to captain South Africa.
It has been more than two months since the Vitality Netball Superleague season came to a close – with Wasps falling just short of a third successive title in the Grand Final.
But it was another successful season, full of highlight moments and fantastic wins for the Black and Golds, which started with silverware in the British Fast 5 All-stars competition, before heading into the first fixture of the season against Loughborough Lightning.
Wasps Netball 72-42 Loughborough Lightning (January 5, Arena Birmingham)
The VNSL season started well for Mel Mansfield’s side, who faced their 2018 Grand Final opponents Loughborough Lightning on the opening day. Rachel Dunn continued her rich vein of pre-season form, capitalising on every opportunity to score in the opening minutes, but opposite number Amy Clinton matched her. Wasps regained their composure after a shaky second quarter to go in with a seven-goal lead at half-time, and went on to close out the game with a dominant final period.
London Pulse 50-61 Wasps Netball (January 26, Copper Box Arena)
Rachel Dunn faced London Pulse for the first time in the Superleague – marking her 200th career appearance and another win for Wasps. Dunn and South African captain Bongi Msomi impressed for Wasps in the opening quarter, but the home side responded, showing defensive resolve and attacking threat going in with a two-goal led at the end of the first quarter. A trio of experienced heads came on for Wasps in the second period - Josie Huckle, Sophia Candappa and Sam May - and the changes seemed to pay off as Wasps took control of the game and built a substantial lead, fending off a late comeback from Pulse.
Surrey Storm 47-70 Wasps Netball (February 2, Surrey Sports Park)
A dominant start to season continued as Wasps came up against Surrey Storm and retained their unbeaten record. The home side enjoyed a fast start in the third annual Tom Reseigh Trophy game. Wasps relied on the defensive brilliance from Josie Huckle to bring them back into the game after a difficult start. Wasps improved in the second quarter as Katie Harris and Rachel Dunn found space in the circle to give Wasps a five-goal advantage at half-time. Wasps gained control of the third and fourth quarters and began to put points past their opponents with ease as they came out 70-47 winners.
Wasps Netball 54-50 Saracens Mavericks (February 11, Ricoh Arena)
Wasps arrived at Ricoh Arena or the first time in the season and prevailed over a resilient Saracens Mavericks side. An excellent display of attacking netball in the first two quarters demonstrated the talent each side had to offer. Katie Harris and Rachel Dunn were again the difference between the sides. Their flawless shooting and a strong final quarter display from Fran Williams helped Wasps take maximum points.
Celtic Dragons 46-58 Wasps Netball (February 18, Sports Wales National Centre)
Wasps’ trip to Cardiff was successful as a strong Celtic Dragons failed to break Wasps’ 100 per cent winning record. The Black and Golds’ quality shone through early pressure to lead by seven at half-time. Sophia Candappa impressed in the second half continuing on from her Player of the Match performance in the last game, linking up well with Rachel Dunn to improve on Wasps’ lead and come out on top.
Team Bath 46-57 Wasps Netball (February 22, Team Bath Arena)
Mel Mansfield’s side enjoyed a trip to Bath University as they secured three points and their sixth successive win of the season. Former Bath star Rachel Dunn helped Wasps to come through their opponent’s fast start, keeping it level after the first quarter. Amy Flanagan set the tone and the home side went into the second half trailing by ten. Team Bath reduced the gap to six as their attack thrived in the third quarter, but this was short-lived as the Wasps defence regained the momentum to ensure victory.
Wasps Netball 61-34 Strathclyde Sirens (March 2, Ricoh Arena)
Strathclyde Sirens were unable to contain Wasps’ attacking talent as the hosts began their three-game home stint with a comfortable victory. Despite Sirens missing star Goal Shooter Cat Tuivati they began the match confidently mirroring Wasps with every goal. However, the missing star became apparent in the second quarter as the Wasps lead soon became double figures and Sirens struggled to mount any impacting attacks. Mansfield made several half-time changes as Wasps thwarted any attacking threat from Sirens.
Wasps Netball 55-64 Manchester Thunder (March 6, Ricoh Arena)
Wasps’ winning run finally came to an end against an impressive Manchester Thunder. The visitors played a near-perfect first half and Thunder picked up where they left off in the second half and managed to hold off any late push by Wasps to come away with a deserved win.
Wasps Netball 54-47 Severn Stars (March 10, Ricoh Arena)
Wasps immediately got back to winning ways as they faced West Midlands rivals Severn Stars at Ricoh Arena in a drama-filled match. Stars took early control but Wasps built a double-figure lead going into the second half. Momentum swung the Stars’ way in the third quarter and the Worcester-side continued to mount pressure into the final quarter, but the home side kept their cool and held on to win.
Loughborough Lightning 59-60 Wasps Netball (March 18, Sir David Wallace Arena)
Mel Mansfield’s side suffered their second defeat of the season against Loughborough Lightning, seeing the Black and Golds knocked off top spot in the Superleague. Both teams’ shooters were in fine form in the first quarter putting on an excellent performance, but it was the hosts who went into the second quarter with a two-goal advantage. Wasps found some form ending the second quarter with a two-goal lead, as Katie Harris and Rachel Dunn helped to maintain the lead going into the final quarter and held on for a narrow victory.
Manchester Thunder 50-49 Wasps Netball (March 23, Thunderdome)
Another one-goal loss for Wasps against title-chasing rivals Manchester Thunder in the space of the week stretched the hosts’ lead at the top of the table. Thunder forced Wasps to be patient with clever defensive tactics making it hard for the visitors and capitalising on the slow start, Thunder started to build a lead. The first lead of the game for Wasps came in the second quarter with the visitors’ appetite beating Thunder to every ball. Wasps lead at half-time by only one goal. Wasps’ form carried on into the third-quarter and pushed out to a five-goal lead but Thunder managed to claw back at the visitors’ lead. The fourth quarter was dominated by the home side and with Wasps looking to bring the score level, time ran out.
Wasps Netball 67-35 London Pulse (March 31, Ricoh Arena)
Wasps Netball returned to winning ways with an impressive victory over London Pulse. Wasps started the match with some great free-flowing attacking netball and the quarter came to an end with Wasps up by six. The second quarter saw an impressive performance by Wasps players Tamsin Moala and Rachel Dunn but Pulse managed to limit the deficit to 11 at half-time. The high-intensity play was kept up throughout the second half to see out the game comfortably.
Wasps Netball 61-46 Team Bath (April 5, Ricoh Arena)
Wasps won their second consecutive game at Ricoh Arena with an important victory against Team Bath to keep the pressure on the league leaders. The near-perfect performance started well with Katie Harris linking up with Rachel Dunn to get some well-worked points on the board. Bath struggled to rein the hosts in as Wasps maintained their advantage in the third quarter and pushed this lead to 15 come the end of the match.
Saracens Mavericks 51-58 Wasps Netball (April 15, MK Arena)
An important victory against Saracens Mavericks saw Wasps Netball go nine-points clear of fifth place ahead of the Big Easter Weekend fixtures at Ricoh Arena. Mavericks stormed out to an early lead in the first quarter but the Black and Golds soon led heading into the second quarter. The hosts enjoyed the best of the action in the third quarter but this was soon cancelled out through a quick Wasps start to the fourth quarter to seal victory.
Wasps Netball 76-42 Surrey Storm (April 20, Ricoh Arena)
The first game of the Big Easter Weekend against Surrey Storm was a successful start to an intense couple of days for Mel Mansfield’s squad. The game started well for the hosts, who took advantage of Storm’s mistakes to take the lead, with Fran Williams producing a brilliant first-quarter performance. The fast-paced attack from Wasps continued and Surrey were unable to keep up with Wasps despite improved form.
Wasps Netball 64-48 Celtic Dragons (April 21, Ricoh Arena)
Celtic Dragons failed to inflict any damage on Wasps as they completed the Big Easter Weekend with another convincing victory. Jade Clarke inspired Wasps to a double-figure lead which was maintained and Wasps went in up by 12 goals at half-time. They continued their great attacking form as they raced to win 64-48.
Strathclyde Sirens 41-56 Wasps Netball (April 26, Emirates Arena)
With the semi-finals looming, a fantastic win against Strathclyde Sirens provided much needed momentum for Wasps. The visitors managed to edge a two-goal lead at the end of the quarter. The home side improved in the second quarter but Wasps fired back and ended the half leading by five. An impressive final-quarter shooting display from Katie Harris helped Wasps seal victory.
Severn Stars 45-60 Wasps Netball (May 4, University Arena)
Mel Mansfield’s side secured an important victory against a lively Severn Stars team to round off the regular season heading into the semi-finals. Wasps asserted authority early on in the match, supressing any Stars attacks. The commanding lead produced in the first half gave the opportunity for Mansfield to make changes. Wasps carried on with their dominance continuing to score and eventually winning by another 15-point margin.
SEMI-FINAL: Wasps Netball 74-54 Loughborough Lightning (May 11, Sports and Wellness Hub)
A stunning win in the semi-finals against Loughborough Lightning saw Wasps reach their third successive Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final. Lightning made a fast start with Mary Cholhok performing well but as the first quarter came to an end, Wasps reduced the deficit. Wasps needed to respond and they came out fast in the second quarter and were soon leading. Cholhok continued to star as Lightning saw a run of goals to reduce the Wasps lead to three at the halfway stage. The second half turned physical as both sides battled it out. Wasps shooters were able to capitalise and produced a fantastic final 15 minutes to progress to the final.
FINAL: Wasps Netball 52-57 Manchester Thunder (May 18, Copper Box Arena)
Wasps Netball fell short in what would have been a historic third successive league title in a closely-fought game against Manchester Thunder. The Black and Golds benefited from a series of early mistakes by Thunder, but the opposition shooters were in good form and found rhythm to go goal-for-goal with the holders. The second quarter swung Thunder’s way as they capitalised on a number of errors and penalty calls against Wasps to go in with a lead half-time. Wasps enjoyed their best period of the game in the third quarter as Katie Harris, Rachel Dunn and Fran Williams helped Wasps to an advantage of six going into the final quarter. Thunder closed the deficit and eventually took the lead, capitalising on Wasps mistakes to claim the Vitality Netball Superleague title.
If you’d like to be part of the Wasps Netball swarm in 2020, register your interest at https://www.waspsnetball.co.uk/register.