Wasps Netball geared up for next weekend’s crunch Vitality Netball Superleague play off semi-final with a 60-45 victory at West Midlands rivals Severn Stars.
Mel Mansfield’s side rounded off the regular season in style at the University of Worcester Arena as they took a commanding early lead, and kept a lively Stars team at bay throughout the match.
Wasps now prepare to host Loughborough Lightning at University of Warwick on Saturday 11 May (5pm centre-pass) as they bid to reach the Grand Final for a third consecutive year.
Speaking after the game, Mansfield said: “Stars are a really tough team to play against so I’m very pleased with a 15-point victory over them heading into next week.
“I tried out a few different combinations today to prepare for next weekend.
“Defensively I thought we were brilliant and I’m really excited by what we are producing at that end of the court.
“We’ve been working on some through-court defending – all seven players defended really well and I’m pleased with the amount of balls that we won.
“This was a really useful game for us, and we have a big week of preparation ahead of us now.”
Wasps asserted their authority early on, racing into a 5-0 lead with Rachel Dunn and Katie Harris able to capitalise on turnovers in the mid-court.
Stars responded with a quickfire double before the Black and Golds raced into a 15-7 advantage with Harris and Dunn sharing the goals between them.
Stars began the second-quarter determined to narrow the deficit but struggled to make significant headway past defensive duo Fran Williams and Hannah Knights.
Wasps managed to maintain an eight-point lead throughout the majority of the quarter as Bongi Msomi and Jade Clarke capitalised on mid-court turnovers to feed Harris and Dunn in the circle, with Wasps going into half-time with a commanding 33-23 lead.
Mansfield shuffled her pack in the third-quarter with Josie Huckle at Goalkeeper, Jade Clarke at Wing Defence and Amy Flanagan in the Centre.
The move paid dividends as Flanagan linked up well with Dunn in a series of give-and-goes to maintain their ten-point lead, however, Stars came back again and narrowed the deficit to six points with the game wide open heading into the final-quarter.
Experienced England international Jade Clarke moved back into a central role in the final-quarter as Wasps looked to control the tempo of the game.
Key rebounds from Knights, Williams and Clarke foiled Stars’ attack and enabled Dunn and Harris to extend Wasps’ lead further, with the Black and Golds returning home with a 60-45 victory.