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Wasps Netball maintain unbeaten record

Wasps Netball came through a tough test with a 54-50 win against title challengers Saracens Mavericks.

Mel Mansfield’s team trailed in the second-quarter and resisted a late comeback from Mavericks to secure their fourth successive victory.

Sophia Candappa was named Player of the Match for the first time in her career.

Mansfield said: “We knew this was going to be our toughest test yet and it was exactly that.

“We’ve had strong third-quarters in each of our last three games and that shined through again.

“In training we have been working hard on our fitness levels and maintaining performance levels.

“When we took the lead in the third-quarter I didn’t feel like we were going to fall behind again.

“Having a tight game like this will be really good for us, the team will have learnt a lot about themselves tonight.”

George Fisher opened the scoring for the hosts on her return to Ricoh Arena but Katie Harris levelled the score within seconds.

A flying intercept from Hannah Knights proved an early highlight, as the home side built toward a six-goal lead.

Mavericks worked their back into the game with ease and were soon within one goal, through some strong play from Sasha Corbin.

Both sides continued to go goal-for-goal until the end of the first-quarter, with Wasps maintaining a slender one-goal advantage.

Mavericks started the second-quarter quickly and took the lead through strong shooting from Kadeen Corbin and supported by a series of turnovers from the home side.

The visitors were faster to every ball over the next five minutes and built a five-goal advantage.

A defensive stop from Wasps Goal Keeper Sam May swung momentum and her side capitalised with back-to-back quickfire goals to bring Wasps level at half-time.

Candappa took to the court for the third-quarter and made an immediate impact, helping the Black and Golds to three unanswered goals.

Wasps pressed their advantage over the next eight minutes – despite physical defending from the visitors attempting to disrupt the hosts’ attacking flow.

The combination of Harris and Rachel Dunn proved unmatchable, exchanging quick passes to work around the Mavericks defence and growing an eight-goal lead.

Fran Williams impressed in the final-quarter against her England teammates Kadeen Corbin and Fisher.

Mavericks surged back and were soon within four, with only Dunn’s immaculate shooting keeping Wasps in front.

But Mansfield’s side managed to hold off the visitors and come away 54-50 winners.

Wasps Netball’s next fixture will see them face Celtic Dragons at Sport Wales National Centre on Monday 18 February (7pm centre-pass).

Attendance: 1,070

Player of the match: Sophia Candappa

Q1: 15-14
Q2: 27-27
Q3: 43-36
Q4: 54-50

Wasps starting seven: GK Sam May; GD Hannah Knights; WD Amy Flanagan; C Jade Clarke; WA Bongi Msomi; GA Katie Harris; GS Rachel Dunn

Used substitutes: Sophia Candappa (WA); Fran Williams (GD)

Mavericks starting seven: GK Razia Quashie; GD Jo Trip; WD Michelle Drayne; C Sasha Corbin; WA Georgia Lees; GA Kadeen Corbin; GS George Fisher

Tickets are 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 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!

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Wasps weather early Storm

Surrey Storm suffered defeat at the hands of Wasps Netball in the fourth round of the Vitality Netball Superleague.

It was a confident start for the home squad, returning to the Sports Park arena off the back of a momentous win over Team Bath earlier in the week.

With the Tom Reseigh Trophy up for grabs, Surrey Storm’s Sigi Burger was first to start off the scoring for the home side, making way for what was to be a very close quarter.

The was ball moved end to end by both teams, full of pace and intention. Storm placed themselves firmly in the driving seat, really taking the game to the defending Superleague Champions. The first quarter ended all square at 16 points a-piece.

Storm continued to get the ball into the hands of their shooting pair Rhea Dixon and Burger, who made the tough shots look effortless from mid to long range in the circle.

It remained close throughout Q2, with the team down by five at the half (29 – 34) and plenty of positives to take with them.

However, it was the third quarter that saw the momentum shift in Wasps’ favour, as they began to pull away with a decisive lead.

Despite a persistent defensive effort from the starting trio Katie Hughes (c), Lorraine Kowalewska and Shadine Van Der Merwe to keep the ball away from Wasps Rachel Dunn, it was not to be as the visiting team orchestrated to a 10-point lead by the end of Q3.

The final quarter left Surrey Storm with plenty of work to do. Despite some impressive long shots from Laura Morton and relentless defence from Lorraine Kowalewska, it proved too much for the girls in blue and they had to settle for defeat and watch the Tom Reseigh Trophy return to Coventry.

Shadine Van Der Merwe walked away from her first home game for Surrey Storm as Player of the Match as she dominated in her defensive role tonight. Speaking to her after the game she said, “it’s good to be back and wearing the duck-egg blue dress. Thank you to the fans and we’ll be back stronger.”

Katie Harris

Katie Harris prepares for first return to Storm

Wasps Netball’s Katie Harris is ready for an “emotional” return to the club she called home for eight years.

The Black and Golds have started the Vitality Netball Superleague season with back-to-back wins and will look to continue their unbeaten start when they travel to Surrey Storm on Saturday 2 February (6pm centre-pass).

Harris joined Wasps from Storm last summer and has started both games at goal attack this season.

She has re-formed her partnership with Rachel Dunn, who she played with during her time at Surrey, and says she is already improving with the guidance of her new coaches and teammates.

“It’s going to be quite emotional for me going back to Storm,” said Harris.

“I have some great memories of my time there and I’m still good friends with everyone there, but my focus is completely on Wasps now and those friendships will be put to one side when we’re out on court.

“I’m really enjoying my time at Wasps so far, my teammates have been very supportive since I arrived. I feel like I’ve improved as a player already, especially on the technical side of my game.

“It’s been great playing with Rachel Dunn again too. We know we need to make that combination the best it can possibly be, so that is a big focus for us every week in training.”

Storm travelled to Team Bath and secured their first Superleague win under new director of netball Mikki Austin last weekend.

Wasps currently sit top of the table on goal difference and are one of only two undefeated teams remaining.

The fixture will also mark the third contest of the Tom Reseigh Trophy, which honours the former Storm team manager who passed away in October 2016 following a long battle with cancer.

“The match is in memory of Tom Reseigh, which is really important to a lot of us and is a great recognition of everything he did for the game,” added Harris.

“It’s a period of change at Storm but Mikki Austin has done well to assemble a talented squad there, who achieved a huge win against Bath.

“We know it will be a big challenge and they always have a great crowd at Storm too.

“We have worked really hard in pre-season and we’re starting to see results on the court, but we know we have a lot of work to do, with the league being so strong from top to bottom this year.”

Wasps Netball return to Ricoh Arena to 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.

Visit www.waspsnetball.co.uk for more information.

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!

Photo credit: Clive Jones