Wasps 74 – 54 Lightning
Wasps Netball are through to their third successive Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final after a stunning 74-54 win against Loughborough Lightning.
Mel Mansfield kept the same seven players on the court throughout and they were inspired to victory by a dominating second-half performance at the University of Warwick’s Sports and Wellness Hub.
The Black and Golds will now move on to the Grand Final on Saturday 18 May at the Copper Box Arena – where they will target an unheralded third league title in a row.
Mansfield said: “I’ve been dreaming about this moment, I’m so delighted and pleased for the girls.
“The players delivered the gameplan that we have been preparing for a couple of weeks.
“Amy Flanagan was Player of the Match and rightly so. She changed the game in the second-quarter, some of her play was simply magical and it was a Wing Defence masterclass.
“Shooting was fantastic from both of our shooters and they hardly missed.
“We didn’t make any changes in the game but we felt that seven fully deserved to see it through with a performance like that.”
Loughborough enjoyed a fast start to the game with three unanswered goals, before Rachel Dunn put the first goal on the board for Wasps.
Goal Shooter Mary Cholhok impressed for the visitors from the start but Wasps capitalised on a turnover and were soon back level.
It was Cholhok again with three successive goals who gave the lead back to Lightning with five minutes to go in the first-quarter.
Wasps reduced the deficit to one as the first 15 minutes came to a close, as both sides jostled for control of the game.
The Black and Golds were quick out of the blocks for the second-quarter and were soon leading by three.
Wasps’ shooters had found their rhythm, proving clinical under the posts, benefiting from extra possession due to turnovers forced by Flanagan.
Cholhok continued to star, linking up well with Natalie Panagarry and impressing with her unorthodox shooting style.
A run of goals saw Lightning keep the Black and Golds’ lead at three going into the second-half.
Wasps answered back at the start of the third-quarter and soon led by six, with Fran Williams proving disruptive in defence.
Both sides engaged in a physical battle with shooters working hard to create space.
Dunn and Katie Harris put on a shooting clinic, consistently scoring under pressure to give their side a nine-goal cushion ahead of the final 15 minutes.
Cholhok left the court with an injury at the start of the final-quarter as Wasps continued to press their advantage.
The momentum stayed with Wasps who produced a series of interceptions and built a commanding lead.
Wasps kept their foot on the pedal through to the final buzzer and a 20-goal margin saw them through to the Grand Final.
Player of the match: Amy Flanagan
Wasps starting seven: GK Hannah Knights; GD Fran Williams; WD Amy Flanagan; C Jade Clarke; WA Bongi Msomi; GA Katie Harris; GS Rachel Dunn