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Mel Mansfield leads huddle

Wasps Netball preparing for Saracens Mavericks test

Wasps Netball’s Mel Mansfield believes her team are set for their biggest test so far when they face Saracens Mavericks.

Two-time champions Wasps have opened their Vitality Netball Superleague season with three successive victories – and are still yet to play at their home venue.

Wasps will take on Mavericks in their first game at Ricoh Arena this year on Monday 11 February (7pm centre-pass).

It will mark the first time that the iconic names of Wasps and Saracens have met away from the rugby pitch.

Saracens Rugby bought a 50 per cent stake in the Hertfordshire-based team earlier this year.

Wasps Netball Head Coach Mansfield says confidence is high in the squad following the impressive win last time out against Surrey Storm but they are aware of the major threat posed by Mavericks.

She said: “The players are feeling really good after the win against Storm, our error count was right down and we showed great character to come away winners in that fixture.

“What we’re seeing this year already is that you can’t afford to have an off-day in this league and the reality is that to beat Mavericks we have to be at our best.

“We might have won three games, but we know there is a lot to work on too. We need to tidy up our play and be more clinical in key situations.

“When we get an opportunity to press on, we need to take it.”

Mavericks have enjoyed a successful start to the season with their only loss coming on the opening day against undefeated Manchester Thunder.

Wasps are the only other team remaining with an unbeaten record in the Superleague.

A wealth of talent will be on court on Monday night, including seven England Roses, and Mansfield has been preparing her side to counteract the Mavericks stars.

“Mavericks have got four England players and have one of the strongest squads in the league,” said Mansfield.

“But we know we have a very strong squad too and we will be looking for match-ups that help us combat their strengths.

“It’s been a long time since we played at Ricoh Arena and we can’t wait to be back in front of our home fans. With so many top players on display across both teams it should be a fantastic showcase of netball.”

Tickets for Wasps Netball vs Saracens Mavericks on Monday 11 February are available from www.waspsnetball.co.uk/tickets.

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

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

mel mansfield

Mansfield previews Wasps’ season opener

Wasps Netball’s Mel Mansfield believes the Vitality Netball Superleague will be stronger this season – but is confident her side will be up to the challenge.
The two-time league winners begin their 2019 campaign against Loughborough Lightning on Saturday 5 January (centre-pass 1pm).
The fixture is part of Super 10 and will see all ten Vitality Netball Superleague teams compete on the same day at Arena Birmingham.
It will mark the start of Wasps’ quest to win an unheralded third successive league title, and if successful, would become the first team in league history to do so.
Mansfield will be entering her first season as a Vitality Netball Superleague Head Coach following two seasons as Assistant Coach to Tamsin Greenway.
She says that her team are focusing on improving every day but the initial target has to be a top-four finish.
“The first title was a sweet victory, in year two the pressure was off a bit but at the moment we’re not thinking about a third title,” said Mansfield.
“We are seeing consistent improvements in training and in the last few sessions you can really see connections developing with our new players.
“The league has seen some great players arrive and it will be a challenge, but we know that when we are at our best we will be a quality side.
“We’re really excited about our new goal attacks Tamsin Moala, Katie Harris and Chloe Essam. They all have the ability to challenge for a spot in our starting seven.
“The first challenge is to reach the play-off semi-final. Of course we want to win that third title, but we have got to put in the hard work to get there.”
When Wasps meet Lightning it will be a rematch of last season’s Grand Final and will see the two teams meet at Arena Birmingham for the second time.
The two sides’ first clash at the venue came in the 2017 Grand Final, with Wasps winning 55-51 and taking home the Vitality Netball Superleague trophy, with history repeating itself the following year at London’s Copper Box Arena.
Lightning recently appointed former England international Sara Bayman as Director of Netball.
Mansfield believes Loughborough will be a force once again this season, despite changes in their playing and coaching personnel.
“Of course they’re going to be good, they always are. Sara will no doubt get her team playing some great netball,” she said.
“We’ve had back-to-back finals against Lightning, and now we’re playing them in our first fixture. It’s a very exciting fixture, a good opening test for us and I’m sure it will be a crowd pleaser.
“We always love Super 10, it’s a great showcase of the Vitality Netball Superleague and we’re looking forward to getting out there on the court.”
Mel Mansfield leads huddle

Mansfield: ‘International success will benefit’

Mel Mansfield believes the international prowess of her Wasps Netball players will show on the domestic court in her first season as Head Coach.

Three of Wasps’ stars featured for the Vitality Roses during the off-season, with Fran Williams, Jade Clarke and Rachel Dunn all shining for the national side.

South Africa captain Bongi Msomi has also returned to Wasps, after spending last season in Australia.

Goal defence Fran Williams was given her England debut in the test series against Uganda, impressing Head Coach Tracey Neville who then gave her a starting berth.

Mansfield said it was a proud moment for her to see Wasps players starring on the international stage, and believes it reinforces the strength in depth of her squad.

She said: “It’s been non-stop this summer for the England players but how good is it to see Wasps players, past and present, shining on the international stage?

“At times there had been four on the court for England at the same time and deservingly so.

“We’ve got Rachel Dunn who wowed everyone in last season’s play-off final, and then built on that in Fast5, before getting back into the England squad.

“Jade Clarke also has an incredible amount of experience in big games, and she will be a key force for us again this year.”

Mansfield has also managed to retain the same defensive line-up that recorded the second-best goals-against record in the Vitality Netball Superleague last season.

She explained: “The past couple of seasons have proven what a formidable defensive unit we have in our squad. To keep hold of defenders as talented as Sam May, Josie Huckle and Hannah Knights is a coup for us.

“Fran Williams will also be pushing for a starting seven spot.

“She is a natural leader and I’ve already noticed the difference in her within training in terms of how confident she is and how she runs the defensive end. She has really grown as a player in the last two seasons and we’re excited to see what she can achieve this year.

“We have a range of combinations that we can play, which is key for any successful team, so it is a good headache for me to have.”

The two-time Vitality Netball Superleague champions will begin their 2019 campaign against Loughborough Lightning on Saturday 5 January (centre-pass 1pm).

The opening fixture is part of Super 10, which will be hosted at Arena Birmingham, and sees all ten Superleague sides competing at one venue on the same day. You can get tickets to watch all 10 teams in action at the Super 10 season opener here.

Wasps Netball season memberships are now on sale, and individual tickets for the first six Wasps Netball home fixtures of the 2019 season are also available. Visit www.waspsnetball.co.uk for more information.

wasps

Wasps’ Mansfield: “They did themselves proud”

Wasps Netball secured a clean sweep in a pre-season Tri Tournament as they continue their preparations for the upcoming Vitality Netball Superleague campaign.

It marked the first time Mel Mansfield had led her team as Head Coach at the Ricoh Arena, overcoming London Pulse and Team Bath in a packed afternoon of netball.

The tournament saw the debut of new side London Pulse, with the new season getting underway in January 2019.

Mansfield was particularly impressed with the performance of her young players in their first appearance at the Ricoh.

“It was really good run out for us. I was particularly pleased with how we performed against Bath – we really stepped it up a gear,” said Mansfield.

“We were able to get some of our young players some good court time too, which is great experience for them. They did themselves proud against strong opposition.

“Defensively we were just brilliant, but this is by no means the finished product yet. It was good to be able to work out what our priorities need to be before our first fixture in January.

“Fran Williams played at Wing Defence, which was new for her, but I think she did really well. She is turning into an important, senior player for us.

“It was good to be back out at the Ricoh Arena too. The atmosphere was great and was the perfect opportunity for our new signings to get a taste of what playing in front of our home crowd is like.”

Wasps started the afternoon with their encounter against London Pulse.

The black-and-gold’s enjoyed a fast start, rushing out to an early three goal advantage and securing a six goal lead by the end of the first quarter.

A duo of flying intercepts, from Hannah Knights and Amy Flanagan, set the tone for the second quarter, as Wasps built a double-digit lead.

Mansfield’s side continued to shine in the second half, building a big lead to run out eventual 41-26 winners.

In the afternoon’s second fixture, Team Bath met London Pulse. Pulse again struggled to get into their rhythm as Bath took the lead early.

By half-time the game was all but decided, with Bath leading 27-13. The impressive display from Bath continued in the final two quarters, winning 44-29.

The final game of the afternoon saw a rematch of last season’s Vitality Netball Superleague semi-final with Wasps against Team Bath.

Bath took the lead early, but were pegged back by sharpshooter Rachel Dunn. It was end-to-end throughout the first quarter, with Wasps edging it 9-6.

The visitors fought back and by half-time had reduced the deficit to just one goal. Wasps took control after the break, with two quick-fire goals giving them the momentum.

The home side had built a ten goal lead mid-way through the final quarter. Bath attempted to mount a comeback, but the home side stood strong, winning 36-28.

Wasps Netball season tickets are now general sale for the Vitality Netball Superleague 2019 season. To find out more visit https://www.waspsnetball.co.uk/season-membership

Tickets are now on sale for Super 10 – get your squad together and head to the season opener on Saturday 5th January 2019 at Arena Birmingham!