Match report: Wasps Netball 64-48 Celtic Dragons
Wasps Netball secured a spot in the Vitality Netball Superleague semi-finals with a 64-48 win against Celtic Dragons to round-off an Easter double-header at Ricoh Arena.
The league-leaders led throughout but were forced to battle for the three points in what was a physical contest.
The win completes a successful weekend for Mel Mansfield’s side, after defeating Surrey Storm 76-42 on Saturday evening.
Mansfield said: “We’re really happy with our performances this weekend and we’ve come out of two tough games without any injuries too.
“It was a good battle out there with Dragons. There were quite a few stoppages in play and that really affected the flow of the game.
“It was a great squad performance, Fran Williams and Jade Clarke had fantastic games.
“Our shooters battled well, they were under some pressure today and responded really well.
“That’s the semi-final spot secured now. We’re up in Scotland to face Sirens on Friday and that won’t be an easy fixture.”
Wasps scored four unanswered goals to open the game, with Jade Clarke proving the catalyst for success in the mid-court.
Kalifa McCollin scored the first goal of the game for Dragons, which sparked a run to bring the visitors back within three of their hosts.
A stoppage in play brought a halt to the Dragons’ momentum, as Clarke was forced to leave the court for treatment.
Fran Williams was the star for the home side throughout the first-quarter, highlighted by a series of interceptions to keep her side in the lead.
Both sides continued to go goal-for-goal until the close of the quarter and Dragons were able to sneak in a goal on the buzzer.
Clarke returned to the court for the second-quarter and inspired a run which saw Wasps lead by double-figures.
Rachel Dunn and Katie Harris battled with Dragons’ defenders Stacian Facey and Dee Bolakoro – as they tussled for space in the shooting circle.
Wasps’ shooting duo were able to come out on top, consistently scoring under pressure.
Sam May joined the action for the Black and Golds and immediately forced a turnover - helping her side to a 12-goal half-time lead.
Wasps maintained their momentum to start the second-half, with a flying interception from Clarke.
The third-quarter quickly became a physical battle, as Dragons looked to work their way back into the fixture.
Facey impressed at Goal Keeper for Dragons, doing well to disrupt the Wasps shooters. Play was halted for a second time due to blood on the court, with Josie Huckle replacing Fran Williams for the hosts as the quarter came to a close.
Wasps opened the fourth-quarter in clinical attacking form, with Harris and Dunn seemingly unable to miss when presented with opportunities.
Clarke and Msomi proved integral in creating space for the shooting pair, as Wasps stretched their lead to 17.
Tamsin Moala was introduced with two minutes to play, as the Black and Golds registered a 64-48 win.
Williams was named Player of the Match for the first time in her Superleague career.
Player of the match: Fran Williams
Wasps starting seven: GK Hannah Knights; GD Fran Williams; WD Amy Flanagan; C Jade Clarke; WA Bongi Msomi; GA Katie Harris; GS Rachel Dunn
Used substitutes: Beth Dix (WA); Josie Huckle (GK); Sam May (GK); Tamsin Moala (GA)