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Wasps beat Lightning to secure back-to-back titles!

Wasps Netball beat Loughborough Lightning 55-51 at the Copper Box Arena on Saturday evening to secure back-to-back titles.

In a repeat of last season’s Grand Final, there was a case of déjà vu with the same scoreline and the same outcome.

Tamsin Greenway’s side were made to work incredibly hard to be crowned champions as they faced an in-form and determined Lightning team on a 12-game unbeaten run.

It was last season’s runners-up who flew out the traps with Peace Proscovia scoring twice before Rachel Dunn got the defending champions off the mark.

Shamera Sterling displayed her athleticism and defensive prowess early on flying in for an intercept but her side were unable to capitalise.

A contact call against Sam May allowed Ella Clark to put Lightning 5-3 up but Natalie Haythornthwaite scored her first of the game to pull Wasps back within one.

Anna Carter’s side extended their lead to three goals after contact was called against Haythornthwaite and Proscovia made no mistake from close in.

Dunn, playing in her 10th Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final, got into her groove and cut her side’s deficit to just one with two quick-fire goals.

And there was nothing to separate the two sides at the end of the first quarter with the scores tied at 12-all.

It went goal-for-goal in the opening stages of the second quarter with the crowd treated to dogged defending, fantastic feeds and sharp shooting.

Anything Clark and Proscovia could do, Dunn and Haythornthwaite would match at the other end.

Sophia Candappa was working her magic in the mid-court for Wasps, picking out the shooters under the post time and time again.

A rare missed effort from Dunn though was pounced upon by Lightning, who slickly transitioned the ball through court with the move finished off by Uganda international Proscovia to give her side a 21-19 lead.

Wasps fought back instantly and took the game by the scruff of the neck, exuding class and tenacity as they drew back on level terms before stretching ahead to 26-22.

Lightning were unfazed with Clark and then Proscovia, after a trademark Sterling intercept, bringing it back to a two-goal game.

Momentum was with Wasps at the end of the first half and they took a slender lead – 28-24 – into the break.

With a steely grit and their eyes firmly fixed on the Vitality Netball Superleague trophy, the defending champions made their mark at the start of the second half.

Leading by example, Wasps captain Hannah Knights read the game perfectly to thwart a Lightning attack and the turnover was converted, before Dunn nailed another shot to hand her team a six-goal advantage.

It was a fiery and physical affair out on court with mid-air collisions and contact calls galore!

Slick link-up play between Hannah Joseph, Clark and Proscovia saw Lightning claw back the deficit to just four goals and they continued to chase down their opponents with Clark holding her nerve to cut the gap further.

With just three goals separating the two teams at the end of the third quarter (43-40 to Wasps), it was anyone’s game heading into the final 15 minutes.

Lightning kept Wasps at bay initially as they battled back to trail by just one and then got on level terms at 44-all.

After going goal-for-goal for a period of play, May picked off a lofted feed into Proscovia and Wasps seized the opportunity to stretch ahead to 48-46 before extending their advantage to four after held ball was called against Lightning.

Carter’s side were still in the hunt though with two unanswered goals from Proscovia bring them back to within two at 51-49.

The Wasps defence remained resolute with top work from May and Knights helping the table toppers see out the game.

A huge thank you to all of our fantastic players, coaches, officials, volunteers, fans and partners for another sensational season!

 

 

 

 

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Wasps Netball looking for back-to-back titles in Lightning Grand Final clash

Wasps Netball star Rachel Dunn says her team’s defence will provide the foundations to defend their league title this weekend.
It will be a re-match of the 2017 Grand Final but unlike last season the black-and-golds come into the clash as the higher seeded team – as Wasps seek back-to-back championships.
Dunn, who starred in the semi-final win against Team Bath, will be playing in her 10th final and is targeting her fourth successive league title.
The veteran attacker, who has enjoyed an 89 per cent shooting percentage this season, believes her team are in the perfect position to defend their title.
“I love the week in the lead up to the Grand Final. It is always a special time and it has been great spending it with this fantastic group,” said Dunn.
“We’ve beaten every team so far this season so we know we can beat anyone. We have put ourselves in the best possible position to defend our title and we are determined to do just that.
“These are the games you play for. We put in all the hard work to finish top of the league and then win our semi-final but we know that anything can happen in the final – as we proved last year.
“We’ve got huge confidence throughout the team and we know our defence will show up when it matters.
“As an attacker, when you know your defensive end is so effective at getting the ball back it gives you great confidence to do your job in attack.”
Lightning came away winners when the teams met at the Ricoh Arena in May but Wasps took victory earlier in the season at Loughborough – leaving the season series level.
Wasps Netball director Tamsin Greenway led her team to 16 wins in the regular season to top the table and finish one place above Lightning.
Greenway – who will be looking to secure her fourth consecutive league title as a coach – is looking forward to the battle between the league’s top two.
“You want to be in this position and be given a chance to defend your title,” she said.
“We have a lot of experience in this squad who know what it takes to win finals, you just have to give it your all.

“It will be good to face Loughborough again, it will be a rematch of last year’s final and we know it will be a real battle.”

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Home fans roar Team Bath to vital victory

Team Bath Netball reinvigorated their challenge for a semi-final spot after overcoming top-four rivals benecosMavericks 54-45 in a pulsating Vitality Netball Superleague showdown on Friday.

The Blue and Gold went into the match three points adrift of their fourth-placed rivals and knowing that victory was essential after last weekend’s surprise setback against UWS Sirens.

They looked to have the points safely in the bag as they took an eight-goal lead into the final quarter thanks to superb performances right across the court but Mavericks, spearheaded by a 100 per cent shooting rate from Karyn Bailey, refused to accept defeat and cut the gap to two with six minutes still to go.

A magnificent interception from captain Eboni Beckford-Chambers helped Team Bath regain the initiative and, roared on by an outstanding home crowd, they went on to record a vital victory.

Team Bath Netball Superleague Head Coach Anna Stembridge said: “It’s always a great game between ourselves and Mavs, and tonight’s contest really delivered. Mavs are a class side so we had to be good tonight and I’m proud of the way the girls responded.

“We stayed composed when Mavs got to within two and stuck to our gameplan, we didn’t deviate and we were absolutely clinical when we had possession. We absolutely needed that win and we’re right in the mix but let’s focus on one game at a time.”

There have been some classic encounters between Team Bath and Mavericks over the years and, given the importance of this fixture in the race for the top four, this one promised to be no different.

It lived up to all expectations with the tone being set in the first quarter as both teams quickly hit their stride. Shooters Kadeen Corbin and Bailey went goal for goal before tremendous mid-court pressure from Mia Ritchie and Imogen Allison forced the first turnover of the game, which Team Bath capitalised on to move into an 8-5 lead.

They had further chances to pull away but couldn’t take them and Mavericks took advantage to level the scores, only for the Blue and Gold to regain the initiative and restore their three-goal margin.

Back came Mavericks again to make it 14-14 with 30 seconds to go but a Corbin goal edged Team Bath ahead once more and she doubled the lead with the last shot of the quarter after Allison brilliantly intercepted the Mavericks centre-pass.

Wild About Flowers Player of the Match Allison was in inspired form and it was another stunning intercept from the wing-defence which allowed the hosts to extend their lead after an evenly-matched start to the second quarter.

Corbin and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis were also linking well in attack, fed superbly by the outstanding Ritchie and Rachel Shaw, as Team Bath opened up a seven-goal lead before Mavericks capitalised on a couple of mistakes to cut the home side’s advantage to four.

Chelsea Lewis, who came on for Drakeford-Lewis late in quarter two, scored the last goal of the half to put Team Bath 30-25 up and then rattled off four in a row at the start of quarter three to give the hosts a healthy advantage.

The lead grew to double figures but a tremendous battle saw the momentum swing once again in Mavericks’ favour as they scored six unanswered goals to get right back into the contest.

The home fans sensed the turning tide and turned up the volume, roaring their team on and helping them to get the match back on to an even keel before, with two minutes to go and with Drakeford-Lewis back in attack, they pulled away once more to take a 43-35 lead into the final quarter.

Any thoughts that the match was over were swiftly dispelled as four goals in quick succession saw Mavericks halve the gap. The tension rose in the Team Bath Arena as the visitors kept chipping away at the lead and, with half of the quarter remaining, the lead was down to two.

Team Bath needed a game-changing moment and they got it when Beckford-Chambers soared to get her fingers to a Kalifa McCollin shot and instigate an attack that led to Drakeford-Lewis finally netting the hosts’ second goal of the quarter.

The captain led by example again moments later to produce another stunning turnover and, roared on by the delighted home crowd, Team Bath were able to regain some breathing space before clinically killing the game off to eventually win by a nine-goal margin.

The race to reach the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final is heating up – don’t miss out on the season-ending spectacular and get your tickets now!

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Lightning intent on causing upset

In-form Loughborough Lightning Netball travel to Wasps on Saturday 26th May, intent on causing an upset.

With the Midlands derby taking place at the Ricoh Arena, Lightning are determined to reverse a 49-60 loss at home to their rivals at the start of March. Wasps, who lifted the Grand Final trophy last season beating Lightning in the final, are sitting pretty at the top of the 2018 Vitality Netball Superleague table, but the Loughborough University side are snapping at their heels.

With Lightning looking like a more cohesive outfit since the Commonwealth Games, Beth Cobden and Shamera Sterling returning with medals, the netballing world will expect this game to go down to the wire. Having dispatched of Celtic Dragons and UWS Sirens on the road last week, Lightning will be full of confidence when they make the much shorter trip on Saturday evening.

Looking ahead to the game Head Coach Anna Carter commented:

“We’ve got a big game coming up. What we’ve done really well over the last few weeks is to focus in training on what we’re about and what we need to do. We’d like to have a good go at Wasps; last time we didn’t turn up the first half so the plan of attack will be to start better, see where we are at half time and see if we can push on from there.

“Our plan for the week is that we usually spend Tuesday analysing ourselves, looking at how we played at the weekend, and then Thursday we look at the opposition. I feel we’re in a really good place and we’re just really looking forward to Saturday now and showcasing what we can do.”

Despite sitting second in the table, Lightning know they need to keep winning games to ensure their top four spot and a place in the Play-Offs. The Wasps game is the first big test, before the final home game of the season on Saturday 2nd June against Severn Stars.

Tickets for that must win game are still available by clicking here – your support is needed to ensure the ladies in purple are in the hunt for silverware come the end of the season.

The race to reach the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final is heating up – don’t miss out on the season-ending spectacular and get your tickets now!