19th Aug, 2017

Stars douse Dragons' fire to claim first away win

Aaron Wise 19th Apr, 2017

SEVERN Stars overcame a stubborn Celtic Dragons side to claim their first away win of the Vitality Netball Superleague with a 59-50 victory on Monday.

Stars lead from the start but were unable to shake off Dragons, who kept themselves within touching distance until the final quarter of a closely-fought contest at the Sport Wales National Centre.

But Stars were able to secure their third win of the season against the league’s basement side in the final few minutes.

After the game, wing defence Rebecca Oatley said: “We’re really pleased. It was important to back up what was quite a good performance, but ultimately a disappointing result, on Saturday, with a good team performance against Dragons.

“Celtic are always a really tough team to play when they’re at home. They’ve got great fans, but I thought we were able to silence them in that last quarter, and that’s the sweetest feeling.

“We’ve got great grit and resilience in our team. Hopefully that win will give us the belief we need to push on.”

Goal shooter Eleanor Cardwell edged the visitors ahead in a frantic opening quarter, but Dragons’ resilient defence prevented Stars from extending their lead beyond four points as they kept themselves within touching distance through patient attacking play.

The hosts then notched four points in the final two minutes to bring the deficit back to just one point at 15-16.

Goal keeper Rachel Sweet played a key role in maintaining Stars’ slender advantage in the second quarter, with her crucial interception seven minutes before the break allowing centre Laura Malcolm to find Cardwell to net.

Stars managed to increase their lead to six points two minutes before the break, with their impressive defensive performance causing several turnovers, from which Cardwell and goal attack Iona Darroch were able to capitalise.

But Dragons hit back to cut the half-time deficit to just four points at 31-27.

Stars started the second half brightly as they managed to regain their six-point advantage, but after wing defence Oatley was forced off with an injury against her former club, Dragons took control and brought the score back to within three points.

With two minutes left of the third quarter, Dragons closed to within just one point of the visitors, but a Darroch double and a late goal from Cardwell ensured Stars ended the quarter with a 42-38 lead.

Stars began to find their rhythm in the final period and made sure the outcome was beyond doubt when clinical finishing from substitute goal attack Yasmin Hodge-England and Cardwell extended their lead to nine points as the clock wound down.

The win followed a 56-47 loss to league leaders Loughborough Lightning at the University of Worcester Arena on Saturday.

An unbeaten Lightning outfit were chasing the game almost from start to finish, but their experience eventually proved too much for head coach Mo’onia Gerrard’s side, who put in a spirited performance.

Stars host Surrey Storm at the University of Worcester Arena on Monday (tip off 7.30pm).

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