REPORT: Wasps Netball 72-42 Loughborough Lightning

Wasps Netball opened their title defence with a resounding 72-42 win against Loughborough Lightning in a re-match of last season’s Grand Final.

The two-time champions pulled away from their Midlands rivals in the third-quarter courtesy of a clinical shooting display from Rachel Dunn and Katie Harris.

It marked Mel Mansfield’s first Vitality Netball Superleague fixture as Head Coach of Wasps, as her team challenges for an unheralded third successive title.

Mansfield said: “I was really pleased. It was a great start and we got the result we deserved.

“We slowed up a bit in the second-quarter but after half-time we regrouped and came out firing - and that was really impressive for me.

“It was great to be able to get ten players out there too. I was impressed with Katie Harris, she really starred for us today. She has great height and is lethal on the shot.

“We’ve worked really hard to be in the best shape possible to start the season and that showed in the final quarter. We didn’t take our foot off the pedal and played at full pace right to the end.

“We have a three week break before our next game now. It wasn’t perfect today, we know we have a lot of work to do and we will look to put that right in training.”

The opening minutes saw a clinical shooting display from both sides, with Wasps goal shooter Rachel Dunn and her opposite number Amy Clinton capitalising on every opportunity.

Jade Clarke starred in Black and Gold throughout the first quarter, feeding the ball well to Harris and Dunn in attack and creating opportunities for her team.

A well-timed interception from Clarke swung momentum in Wasps’ favour. The Black and Golds took advantage, building a ten goal lead to close the first quarter.

Lightning introduced Brittany Coleman at goal shooter to start the second-quarter, who had some early success against Wasps goal keeper Josie Huckle.

A series of misplaced passes saw Loughborough enjoy their best period of the match, scoring three un-answered goals to work their way back into the match at 26-20.

The Black and Golds regained their composure to produce back-to-back defensive stops, with Clarke again leading the charge from the mid-court and helping her team to a seven goal lead at half-time.

Wasps introduced Sam May at goal keeper and Fran Williams at wing defence after the break, and the duo were able to take advantage of a sloppy start to the second-half from their opponents.

Goal attack Harris showed why Mansfield pursued her signature in the off-season, with some sharp movement creating opportunities in an untidy third-quarter.

The fourth-quarter saw Lightning give a debut to new Ugandan shooter Mary Nubas Cholhok, with Tamsin Moala also getting her first Superleague appearance for Wasps.

Despite the changes, Wasps were dominant to start the final period and continued to grow their advantage and soon led by 30 goals.

Mansfield’s team kept their foot on the pedal throughout the fourth-quarter, pushing to a 72-42 victory to start the season.

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Player of the match: Rachel Dunn

Q1: 20-10

Q2: 31-23

Q3: 50-32

Q4: 72-42

Wasps starting seven: GK Josie Huckle; GD Hannah Knights; WD Amy Flangan; C Jade Clarke; WA Sophia Candappa; GA Katie Harris; GS Rachel Dunn

Used Substitutes: Fran Williams, Sam May, Tamsin Moala.

Lightning starting seven: GK Tuaine Keena; GD Vicki Oyesola; WD Emily Hollingsworth; C Natalie Panagarry; WA Hannah Joseph; GA Ella Clark; GS Amy Clinton