Celtic Dragons took to a brand-new Welsh Netball court at Cardiff Metropolitan University’s National Indoor Athletics Centre to face their fierce Scottish rivals in Round 14, knowing that a win was vital to keep pressure on the mid-table as the season enters its final phase.
Despite a good save in the first minute from Stacian Facey, it was a scrappy start for Dragons whose second drive from centre pass was turned over by the visitors. However, accuracy was an issue for the Sirens’ shooters and Dragons were able to power their attack with some rebounds off goal at the defensive end. Nia Jones was able to effectively organise the defence of Sirens’ centre pass and she earned her first interception of the afternoon and helped Dragons take a narrow advantage after the first fifteen.
The home side made a very assertive start to the second period, with Bethan Dyke darting around the court to find plenty of options for the Dragons drive. Dyke’s feeds into Kalifa McCollin kept the Sirens’ heads spinning all afternoon and despite the increasing levels of physicality in the contest, she showed no signs of the ACL injury that ended her season last term. Dee Bolakoro was also able to make a couple of trademark interceptions and Kyra Jones performed particularly well in defence and by half time the lead had grown further still.
In the third quarter both sides seemed to lose a bit of fluency. Nevertheless, Chelsea Lewis remained strong under the goal and despite having some opportunities to make an impression on the scoreboard, Sirens remained adrift. Dyke continued to lead the Dragons attack and McCollin was also able to shoot some fancy long-rangers.
Suzy Drane came on for Dyke at the start of the fourth quarter, her first start since an injury in the warm-up against Stars a fortnight ago. Dragons played with patience, Kyra Jones showing good control and decision making at the circle edge. Another tip from Facey saw the visitors’ last real chance to stage a late comeback go astray and Clare Elsley came on for Nia Jones as the game entered its final stages. Elsley made an immediate impact as she set up a great feed into McCollin as Dragons closed out the game and took a much-needed win in front of their biggest home crowd of the season.
Head coach Tania Hoffman said: “I’m very happy with that win. The girls ground that win out in what was a very physical game.
“We’ve still got to learn that when we take a lead we have to keep going, but overall I thought both our defence and attack did very well.”
Results elsewhere meant that Dragons remain in eight position with a huge weekend of fixtures ahead as the squad travels to Coventry to face both Mavericks and Wasps in the ‘Big Easter Weekend.’
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