Celtic Dragons: 46 Wasps Netball: 58
Celtic Dragons treated a sell-out Sport Wales National Centre crowd to an end-to-end arm wrestle with reigning Vitality Netball Superleague champions Wasps, before succumbing to the visiting side’s ability to seamlessly rotate off the bench in the latter stages of the match.
The first quarter saw Celtic Dragons make a solid start, with an early interception for captain Nia Jones, followed by a footwork call against Wasps seeing the home team take an early lead. In fact, there was a chorus of interceptions for Celtic Dragons as Stacian Facey soon followed with a steal of her own and Dee Bolakoro did likewise. Wasps eventually rediscovered their clinical edge and clawed back Dragons three-goal lead to make it even at the break.
The Dragons defence started strongly once again in the second quarter and Stacian was very unfortunate to see her tip end back up in Wasps hands. There was also a great moment when Suzy Drane showed her experience to fly in and steal a Wasps backline pass. It was a very even period on the whole and it was only in the last three minutes when a lapse in concentration from Dragons was heavily punished by the visitors who were able to take a six goal lead.
Kalifa McCollin scored an early goal for Dragons as the team looked to stay in the scrap in the third quarter, however, the cause was not helped as Dragons shooting percentage suffered a dip. Wasps were flawless off their own centre pass and this allowed them to grow their lead, however it was far from a third quarter collapse for the home team. Nia Jones continued to hassle the Wasps attack and Abby Tyrrell came on at GD to provide a more physical edge for the home side’s defence. Accuracy at goal picked up and a six-goal loss in the third, whilst fatal in the game, left Dragons with plenty left to play towards in the final fifteen.
Celtic Dragons took advantage of some Wasps sloppiness as the quarter began with Nia Jones flying up to greet a loose pass which powered its way to Chelsea Lewis for a Dragons goal. Abby and Clare Elsley (on for Kyra at centre) linked up well as the home side looked to maintain standards to the very end. Kalifa’s work rate across the court was exceptional and another drawn quarter was just rewards for Dragons who gave the league leaders plenty to think about in the game.
Reacting to the match, Head Coach Tania Hoffman said: “Overall I thought we were competitive against a Wasps team who are very experienced, they really showed some grit today.”
Quarter Scores: 13-13 (13-13); 10-16 (23-29); 11-17 (34-46); 12-12 (46-58).
Celtic Dragons: GS Chelsea Lewis, GA Kalifa McCollin, WA Suzy Drane, C Kyra Jones, WD Nia Jones (capt), GD Dee Bolakoro, GK Stacian Facey. Replacements: Lucy Howells, Lucy Herdman, Abby Tyrrell, Clare Elsey, Eleanor Roberts.
Wasps: GS R Dunn, GA K Harris, WA B Msomi, C J Clarke, WD A Flanagan, GD F Williams and GK H Knights, Replacements – S Candappa, C Essam, J Huckle, S May and T Moala.