21st May 2013

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Image copyright and courtesy of Anglo-Welsh Images

The Celtic Dragons have made the final of the Netball Superleague, defeating Surrey Storm 65 – 52 in an historic semi final in front of a pumped up crowd at Sport Wales National Centre last night.

The fans were ready, the country was ready, and the players were ready, and they leapt out in front of visitors Surrey Storm, amassing a 6-0 lead before their opponents got a say.

The sudden lead fuelled Dragons‘ confidence as momentum surged to an 11 – 5 advantage before Storm captain Becky Trippick decided enough was enough and called time in the shape of an injury for her team to re-group.

After winning the first quarter by seven, Dragons were slow in the second period, and Storm looked the dominant force, scoring three consecutive goals after the opening whistle.

It was Storm’s turn to feel confident and they slowly hacked away at the deficit, managing to find their shooters in different areas of the circle.

They equalized at 24 all in the 25th minute but some neat interceptions from Dragons C Kyra Jones gave the home side a chance to hang on to the lead, and GS Lottysha Cato scored from a penalty just as the umpires blew the whistle for half time, taking the scores to 31 – 30.

Refreshed and raring, Dragons “nailed it” in the third quarter according to Coach Melissa Hyndman, and with a run of five unanswered goals were back in front at 36 – 31.

They continued to feed off the crowd’s effusive energy and with clean interceptions in defence, and certified takes under the attacking net, Dragons won the quarter 19 goals to six.

Despite some personnel changes for the visitors, including the introduction of ex Celtic Dragon Sophie Morgan at WA, Storm were out played in the final quarter, and as the final whistle blew, the jubilant Cardiff venue erupted as players hugged each other and fans yelled, stamped, clapped and conga-lined in celebration, to the chorus of “we are going to Worcester, we are going to Worcester!”

Coach Hyndman was undeniably emotional.

“I’m really proud of the girls. I’m pleased that they went out there and performed well.

“We had a couple of scary moments, but we started really well and third quarter really nailed it.

“We want to enjoy tonight. They deserve to be really happy and take that moment. I’m smiling, really proud.”

Hyndman described the crowd and atmosphere as “amazing” saying that the energy worked.

“I loved it.”

Co-Captain Suzy Drane was also delighted.

“We’re moving forwards and moving upwards. We’re really pleased with the game and the result tonight, but we are still looking for that 60 minute performance and we’ve got one game left to make sure we do it – and that will be the grand final.”

Drane was also quick to praise the supporters.

“The crowd were absolutely fantastic today and I hope they come with us to Worcester because they really bring the atmosphere.

“The feeling of belief and togetherness on court is brought by our fans and our loyal supporters so I hope they get there and they are able to believe with us on Saturday.”

Dragons will face TeamBath in the Grand Final on Saturday 25th May at Worcester Arena.

Startlines:
Celtic Dragons: GS Lottysha Cato, GA Cara Moseley, WA Suzy Drane, C Kyra Jones, WD Nic James, GD Stephanie Williams, GK Sara Hale

Surrey Storm: GS Rachel Dunn, GA Ash Neal, WA Jo Davidson, C Becky Trippick, WD Natalie Seaton, GD Katy Holland, GK Hannah Reid

Score break downs:
Q1: CD 19, SS 12
Q2: CD 31, SS 30
Q3: CD 50, SS 36
Q4: CD 65, SS 52