Match report: Wasps Netball 55-62 Manchester Thunder
Wasps Netball fell to a 62-55 defeat on the opening day of the Vitality Netball Superleague season against reigning champions Manchester Thunder.
Thunder started the match quickly and the Black and Golds found it difficult to work their way back into the game, with their performance marred by turnovers.
The rematch of last year’s Grand Final was the final game in a huge day of Superleague netball held at Arena Birmingham in which all 10 teams competed.
The Black and Golds now turn their attention to facing Saracens Mavericks in their home season opener at Ricoh Arena on Monday 2 March (7.30pm centre-pass).
Head Coach Mel Mansfield said: “It was a disappointing and frustrating performance, particularly in the first quarter.
“To give ourselves a six-goal deficit was tough. We kept clawing things back but then at critical moments would give the ball away.
“I think we need to be able to confidently pass the ball into our shooters and I think a lot of that is confidence, which I’m sure will grow throughout the season.
“It was great to get three new Wasps out there today in Iona Christian, Alexia Baker and Sienna Rushton, so that’s a definite positive.
“It’s a big game against Mavericks next week. It will be nice to be back home at Ricoh Arena for an important Monday night.”
Jade Clarke got the game underway for the Black and Golds but it was Thunder who struck first – with three unanswered goals to open the match.
Goal Attack Katie Harris scored Wasps’ first goal of the season, but the team continued to struggle in attack, with the reigning champions capitalising on a series of misplaced passes.
New signing Iona Christian showed early signs of chemistry with Harris, as the two provided the attacking spark.
In the first quarter, Wasps gave away three turnovers straight from centre-pass, as they looked to make inroads into the deficit.
The Black and Golds found it difficult to feed the ball into the shooting circle and Thunder led by six going into the second quarter.
Eleanor Cardwell starred for the Manchester-based side in the second quarter, despite Hannah Knights’ best efforts to disrupt Cardwell, she continued to have the hot hand.
Wasps were able to force turnovers in the second quarter and started to gain a foothold mid-way through the quarter.
The physical battle continued in the mid-court, but Thunder stayed composed and maintained their six-goal advantage at half-time.
Mansfield introduced Baker for her debut at half-time and she made an immediate impact.
Williams proved the star for Wasps in the third quarter, proving disruptive on multiple possessions and driving her side to get back into the game.
But Thunder kept their consistency under the basket and maintained their cushion, with Wasps only able to get within three. Manchester again pushed and extended the lead to eight to close the third quarter.
Rushton was introduced for her Wasps debut in the final quarter. Thunder continued to be clinical when presented with opportunities and the Black and Golds weren’t able to reduce the deficit, losing 62-55.
Wasps Netball are back in action on Monday 2 March at 7.30pm at Ricoh Arena against Saracens Mavericks. Visit www.waspsnetball.co.uk for tickets and more information.
Wasps starting seven: GK Hannah Knights; GD Fran Williams; WD Amy Flanagan; C Jade Clarke; WA Iona Christian; GA Katie Harris; GS Rachel Dunn
Used substitutes: Sienna Rushton; Josie Huckle; Alexia Baker