Strathclyde Sirens Vs Severn Stars

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BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05: Jade Clarke of Wasps celebrates the teams win with team mate during the match between Wasps and Loughborough Lightning during the Vitality Netball Superleague Super 10 at Arena Birmingham on January 5, 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for England Netball)

Wasps Netball overcome battling London Pulse

Wasps Netball celebrated Rachel Dunn’s 200th Vitality Netball Superleague appearance with a 61-50 win against London Pulse.

Mel Mansfield’s team trailed early but fought back and pulled away from their hosts in the third-quarter, securing back-to-back victories to start their 2019 campaign.

The fixture marked the first time Wasps and Pulse had faced each other in the Vitality Netball Superleague.

Mansfield said: “We knew Pulse were going to come at us today after their last loss and we were ready for that.

“I was really impressed with how we came back to win the second-quarter after losing the first.

“We had to make some changes at half-time to combat their incredibly accurate shooting circle and I thought we really improved there throughout the second half.

“Rachel Dunn was as steady as anything on her 200th game and it was great to see Bongi Msomi back out there in Wasps colours too.

“We made a lot of errors today and I think we need to consider about how and where we can win the ball back. That will be our focus in training ahead of playing Surrey Storm next weekend.”

Dunn opened the scoring for Wasps with the first goal of the game but both teams were in offensive rhythm throughout the opening stages, trading goal-for-goal.

Msomi, making her first appearance of the season, starred throughout the first quarter and showed why Wasps had brought her back following a season away from the team.

The South Africa captain consistently found pockets of space on the court and fed the ball to Dunn in the attacking circle.

But Pulse showed defensive resolve, with goal keeper Honor De Winton impressing and troubling the visiting shooters.

The home side found consistent success with long balls to rangy goal shooter Shantal Slater and led by two goals at the end of the first quarter.

Katie Harris starred to pull Wasps back level within minutes of the restart, backed up by a series of impressive defensive plays from Hannah Knights and Fran Williams.

Wasps took advantage of successive loose passes from Pulse to lead by three goals at half-time, with Dunn’s battle with England teammate Ama Agbeze taking centre stage.

Mansfield introduced the experienced trio of Josie Huckle, Sophia Candappa and Sam May after the break – with May and Huckle immediately disrupting shooters in the defensive circle.

The Black and Golds found their rhythm quickly in the third period, benefiting from the home side’s misplaced passes to stretch their lead to six.

Harris and Dunn combined well as Wasps took control of the game, building a double-digit advantage going into the final quarter.

Pulse rallied early in the final quarter but Dunn continued to improve her tally to keep her side in the lead.

Chloe Essam was given her Black and Gold Superleague debut in the closing stages, as Wasps secured a 61-50 victory.

Wasps Netball season tickets and general match tickets are now on sale. For more information go to www.waspsnetball.co.uk

Tickets are also now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Big Easter Weekend!

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Rachel Dunn

Wasps’ Rachel Dunn set to hit appearance milestone

Wasps Netball star shooter Rachel Dunn is set to hit a major milestone against London Pulse on Saturday.

Dunn, who is now in the 16th year of her netball career, will take to a Vitality Netball Superleague court for the 200th time this weekend.

She started her career at Team Bath in 2003 and moved to Surrey Storm in 2009, before arriving at Wasps in 2017.

The England goal shooter starred in the first Superleague campaign with Bath in 2006 and won the title that year. She has now won seven titles, including two with Wasps.

Her tally of seven titles is the joint highest – alongside her former teammate Pamela Cookey.

Dunn believes the Superleague has come a long way since it debuted in 2006 and has had a positive impact on the sport in England.

She said: “Time really has flown by. I remember that first Superleague game, it was a brand new structure and built on the county structure and the Super Cup which came before.

“I have the first team sheet from when Bath played Loughborough Lightning. Jade Clarke and Hannah Knights both feature for Loughborough, and now we all play together at Wasps.

“The league just keeps getting stronger. There’s more international players coming in and there’s a lot of quality coming through from our domestic players too.

“Netball is much more in the public eye now and the excitement levels surrounding the sport is incredible.”

Wasps face London Pulse at the Copper Box Arena on Saturday 26 January (7pm centre-pass).

Their last two visits to the Copper Box Arena have ended in silverware, winning the Superleague Grand Final in July and the Fast5 All Stars in October.

It will be the first time Dunn and her team mates have faced Pulse in the Superleague, after the London-based side joined the league in the off-season.

Dunn added: “It’s exciting that Pulse are now in the league and based at the Copper Box Arena. It’s a great venue for netball and we’ve had some good times there with Wasps in the last year.

“I saw some of their games at Super 10 and they are a very exciting team, with top talent in their squad. We’re looking forward to taking them on.

“We’ve got three new goal attacks now with Katie Harris, Tamsin Moala and Chloe Essam joining, and we’re already building great connections.

“I’ve played with Katie before at Storm. She was superb in the first game, people underestimate her, but her timing and ability to take the ball is great.

“We’re aware that other teams are really strong this year, but like every season we are taking it game-by-game and the first goal is to make the top four.”

Wasps Netball’s first fixture of the season at Ricoh Arena will see them take on Saracens Mavericks on Monday 11 February (7pm centre-pass).

Season Memberships are now on sale, and individual tickets for the first six home Vitality Netball Superleague fixtures of the 2019 season are also available.

GET YOUR TICKETS FOR THE VITALITY NETBALL SUPERLEAGUE BIG EASTER WEEKEND!

twitter-In-Stream_Wide___London-Pulse-MM7196-1024x683 - Marc Morris

Dragons win away to Pulse

The trip up to the all-new English capital franchise, London Pulse was more than worthwhile for Celtic Dragons as the franchise recorded a first away victory in the Vitality Netball Superleague for many a moon.

Past exploits of previous Dragons squads were of no concern to Tania Hoffman’s 2019 outfit as the players put on a confident display to put the hosts to the sword, 40-67 at the Copperbox Arena, East London.

London Pulse drew first blood with the first goal, but initial signs were very encouraging as Stacian Facey nearly made an interception only to be called for contact.

Nevertheless, Dragons fired themselves straight back up court via Suzy Drane’s long pass to Kyra Jones who fed into GA Kalifa McCollin for a goal.

The first quarter continued neck-a-neck as Pulse kept composed under their own post, but after about 10 minutes, the home team started to allow some errors to creep into their game and Dragons were able to benefit from the umpire’s whistle.

Pulse were assertive and abrasive in defence but Dragons wouldn’t give an inch and it was good to see the officials call time for a quick word for the captains as the contact calls mounted up.

Still, Dee Bolakoro and Stacian’s productivity in defence gave Dragons the ammunition for their three-goal quarter time lead.

Dragons tails were up and immediately on the second quarter whistle, captain Nia Jones demonstrated her outstanding vision with a harrier-like interception.

Dee was likewise in flying form as Pulse started to feel the pressure and Dragons were able to score from some very straightforward route-one drives.

Dragons could do no wrong, summed up by a Nia interception attempt glancing off her head only to land perfectly in the hands of Kyra Jones!

The home team scrapped on but appeared to be quite dispirited as the Dragons continued in ruthless form, with both Kalifa and Chelsea Lewis scoring for fun.

In the second half Celtic Dragons found themselves in unfamiliar territory with command of the match.

However, both management and players knew the range of international talent that lay within this Pulse side and approached the second half as if the scores had been reset.

The unchanged Dragons team continued to try for every Pulse ball and once again Dee was able to rob Pulse of their possession and any chance they had to impact the score.

Dragons started to turn on the style as Kyra leapt to keep the ball in play as a Pulse feed missed the mark.

Dragons remained committed to the cause in the final quarter with Suzy Drane’s hard passing and direct approach keeping the visitors on track.

Kalifa and Chelsea continued their excellent form in the match shooting at 100% and 90% respectively.

Pulse did take better advantage of their opportunities as the game drew closer to full time and head coach Hoffman took the opportunity to make some changes with Abby Tyrrell coming on for Dee at GD and Lucy Herdman for Chelsea at GS.

Both contributed excellently to Dragons physicality on court and helped steer the franchise towards an emphatic away win.

The squad was measured in victory, well aware that we are only in Act I of the 2019 season but players and management can be congratulated on a job well done away from home.

Attentions will now turn to a clash with Severn Stars away in a fortnight’s time.

Speaking after the match, captain Nia Jones said: “We’re really pleased to get the win.

“It wasn’t the perfect match, but patience was bang on across all four quarters.”

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Pulse announce themselves on VNSL stage

In a game dominated by the defence and some disjointed mid-court play, match 3 saw a battle between the newly formed London Pulse and a rejigged Severn Stars. Both teams fielding starting sevens with a mix of youth and experience. The first quarter was a nervy one for both teams lacking in free-flowing netball and struggling to pass to one another. London Pulse pulled ahead on several occasions by a turnover only to be pegged back soon after. Physical defence from both teams saw several players hitting the deck before a late turnover edged Pulse ahead at the end of the quarter to lead 15-13.

The second quarter started in a similar manner to the first with Pulse starting to show signs of more flowing netball on court, finding it easier than Stars to bring the ball to the circle edge. They took an early five-goal lead (20-15) before the errors of the first quarter crept back in to reduce the lead back to just two goals (20-18). Play remained scrappy with neither team managing to really break free from the opposition defence. Although passing errors and lack of on court communication were making the defenders’ jobs far easier. The changes made to the Pulse defence end in this quarter saw Stars restricted to just nine goals. But they failed to capitalise and only increased the gap by two goals in this quarter to lead 26-22 at half time.

Stars rang in the changes in mid-court in quarter three with Iona Darroch moving to centre and Cara Lee Mosely on at WA. This had an immediate impact with the lead narrowing to just two goals within the first couple of minutes. After going goal-for-goal for a few minutes the defence once again got the upper hand – this time for Severn Stars with two converted turnovers levelling the game at 34-34. Another swift turnover then saw them edge in front with the quarter ending 38-35.

The frantic pace continued into the final quarter with both sides still struggling to maintain their attacking connections and find their shooters. Momentum was briefly on the side of Stars as they turned the ball over to take a five-goal lead at 40-35. But, once again, the errors crept in and Pulse returned the turnover favours to claw their way back. Halfway through the quarter the game remained in the balance with just two goals separating the teams – Stars still leading 44-42. Yet another turnover, however, and the game was back level at 45-45. With just two minutes to go the two teams were still locked together at 49-49. In a finale that worthy of the chaotic nature of the first 58 minutes, Georgia Rowe missed from close range to give Pulse the chance to pull ahead. Chiara Semple held her nerve to score and a converted centre pass as Pulse snatched a 51-49 win.

Commenting on their win after the game, Pulse GA Chiara Semple reflected on a hard-fought game. She said: “We had a really great start and showed the crowd and the world what Pulse Netball is all about, that we’re not going to give up until the final whistle. But we made life hard for ourselves. We were up by five then they were up by five. It was only in the last 2 minutes that we really dug in. Even though it was our shooters who got it in at the end, it was our defence who got it back for us. Lots of us still need to work on our fitness and to keep pushing on so that we don’t get in a position like that again so when we get up by five (goals) we then go up by 10 and stay consistent throughout the whole game.”