Incisive Herts Mavericks slay Celtic Dragons to go top of the Netball Superleague
PUBLISHED: 22:47 07 March 2016 | UPDATED: 22:47 07 March 2016
A dominant Hertfordshire Mavericks blasted their way to the top of the Netball Superleague with a 67-45 slaying of Celtic Dragons at Hertfordshire Sports Village tonight (Monday).
A close opening quarter, 15-13 at its conclusion, was not to buck the trend for this round eight clash and by half-time the home side had extended their advantage to 29-19 with Sammy Wallace, fresh from bagging a 91 per cent shot accuracy in Saturday’s win over Surrey Storm, turning in another spell-binding showing in attack.
Mavericks turned the screw in the third quarter and at one stage had opened up a 17-point stranglehold on their opponents. However, the Welsh women battled back to 44-32 going into the final quarter.
With a visiting victory looking improbable, Sam Bird’s ladies cantered to the finishing line, scoring 23 goals in the last 15 minutes to move three points clear of closest rivals Manchester Thunder having played a game more.
Dragons may be third bottom but they were giving as good as they got in the opening quarter.
Despite a couple of fouls in the D, one of which led to an early Wallace goal, their attacking play was slick and incisive. One such move saw goal shooter Emma Thomas finish effortlessly in the area.
They even led by two points after eight minutes but with the dead-eye shooting of Wallace, Mavericks swiftly whittled that away and added several more goals to narrowly lead 15-13 at the conclusion of a keenly-contested opening period.
A quick turnover in the first 30 seconds of the second, finished again by Wallace, set Mavericks up for a more dominant passage of play. Their energetic play was starting to wear down the visitors.
Another fizzing right to left move at 19-14 exhibited just why the hosts have had such a terrific start to this campaign.
With stingy defence and sharp shooting, they turned a two-point lead into 10-point comfort at half-time.
George Fisher, second most accurate Superleague shooter this season with 93 per cent, entered the fray for thr third quarter along with Bethany Sutherland and Mavericks continued where they left off before the interval.
The 17-year-old’s introduction at goal attack, for Sophie Hankin, compounded Dragons’ frustrations as she got stuck into the opposition, rattling off several quick-fire goals.
Wallace was still the star of the show though, clinically taking every sniff of a chance afforded her in the final third.
A momentary fightback saw Dragons make some headway to leave the score at the end of the third quarter at 44-32.
With Mavericks just 15 minutes from going top of the Superleague, there was little chance they were going to let their advantage dissipate.
Hankin returned in attack while Summer Artman got another run-out at goal keeper.
The Welsh franchise may have bagged the first point of the quarter but Mavericks ruthlessly stuck six points on their total to hit a half-century inside four minutes. By the end, the home side had done more than enough to claim their seventh win in eight league games.
It is the energy and ferocity of the performance that will please head coach Bird most at the halfway stage of the campaign. Sitting top of the table is pretty nice as well though.