Wasps Netball found themselves on the wrong end of a close-fought encounter with West Midlands rivals Severn Stars.
Wasps played their part in an entertaining and end-to-end match at the University of Worcester Arena, holding the lead on several occasions, but were undone in the final minutes as Stars claimed a 59-54 victory.
Wasps Netball Head Coach Mel Mansfield said: “I’m disappointed with the outcome - we had a much improved three quarters compared to last week, but unfortunately we just fell short in the last 15 minutes.
“The game came down to the last quarter and we need to score consistently across the four quarters - we went from a 16-goal quarter to a 10-goal quarter; we also won less balls in that last quarter throughout the court - and we just had a disappointing finish.
“Jade Clarke had a great game; we switched things up and put her at wing defence, so I’m really pleased that she stuck to her task.”
The first quarter was a goal-for-goal affair with the lead changing hands four times in the opening stages. Wasps raced into an early 8-4 lead with Rachel Dunn capitalising on some sharp interceptions from Iona Christian and Amy Flanagan.
Stars hit back every time the Black and Golds tried to extend their lead, with some sharp shooting from Stars’ Paige Reed and Georgia Rowe helping the hosts to end the opening quarter with a slender two-point lead.
Wasps cranked up the pressure immediately in the second period with a quickfire double - first taking advantage of an offside to convert, before drawing level straight from the next centre-pass.
The visitors managed to nudge themselves ahead on two occasions thanks to Dunn finishing off some fine defensive work by Hannah Knights, but three consecutive goals from Stars meant that Wasps went into half-time trailing by one goal.
Wasps opened up a five-goal lead in the third quarter - their biggest of the game - as Sienna Rushton replaced Lexi Baker in attack alongside Rachel Dunn, which paid dividends.
Rushton - who got on the scoresheet early with a mid-range effort - and Dunn were prolific in the circle as they mopped up interceptions by Flanagan and Clarke to see the Black and Golds enter the final quarter with a five-point cushion.
Baker re-entered the fray in place of Christian in the final period as the Black and Golds looked to extend their lead, but a 20-point haul from the home side was enough for them to take the win.
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Wasps starting seven: GK Hannah Knights; GD Fran Williams; WD Jade Clarke; C Amy Flanagan; WA Iona Christian; GA Lexi Baker; GS Rachel Dunn
Used substitutes: Sienna Rushton (GA)