Captain Nia Says ‘We Weren’t Rocking On Court’

Captain Nia Jones summed up Celtic Dragons’ evening after a 57-70 Vitality Netball Superleague defeat against Loughborough Lightning in Cardiff.

“Below par @celtic_dragons performance,” tweeted Jones. “Thanks to those in the crowd who did their utmost to keep with hall rocking even when we weren’t quite rocking on court.” 

Lightning came to the Sport Wales National Centre and Dragons were optimistic they could earn a home victory following defeats against Mavericks, Wasps and Thunder in front of their own supporters.

Dragons have earned three wins in away matches, but struggled again to find their best form on their home court.

“I’m really disappointed with the result, the most disappointed I’ve been all season,” said head coach Tania Hoffman.

“We didn’t start well. After our great start against Surrey Storm I thought we would carry that into this fixture, but we didn’t.

Celtic Dragons player huddle.

“We had quite a lot of turnover ball, but against a side like Loughborough you can’t then just turn it over the other way.”

Dragons did come out on top in the final quarter by one goal when Hoffman used her bench, but by then it was too little, too late.

The Welsh team now enter the second half of their season and face an away trip to Team Bath on Saturday, March 16. 

Dragons will then host London Pulse on Monday, March 25. That match will be live on Sky Sports and there are less than 50 tickets remaining for the game.

Shooter Eleanor Roberts went on for Chelsea Lewis for the final 15 minutes, showing excellent strength and poise to keep the scoreboard ticking over. 

Lightning likewise emptied the bench and the new shooting partnership had Stacian Facey to contend with. The Jamaican defender was relentless as the minutes went by. 

Winning the final quarter by a solitary goal was little consolation for Dragons.

The home defence was called for contact several times in the opening quarter and as a result there was little respite from the Lightning drive.

Early in the second period Facey took a crashing fall but showed no signs of damage as she bounced back to her feet and was soon into Lightning for a much needed turnover. 

Dragons seemed to be at their best when playing across the fringes of the court, making their agility count against the more rangey Loughborough players. 

Kalifa McCollin showed good movement around the circle edge and as a result Dragons had some greater feeding options to play with. 

At half-time, Dragons were in with a shout, trailing by eight goals, but their passing accuracy wasn’t there when needed and, despite the urgings of captain Jones, Dragons could not contain the visiting side. 

Quarter Scores (Dragons first): 12-19 (12-19); 15-16 (27-35); 13-19 (40-54); 17-16 (57-70)

Celtic Dragons: Chelsea Lewis, Kalifa McCollin, Bethan Dyke, Suzy Drane, Nia Jones (capt), Dee Bolakoro, Stacian Facey. Replacements: Lucy Howells, Lucy Herdman, Kyra Jones, Abby Tyrrell, Eleanor Roberts.

Loughborough Lightning: M Cholhok, E Clark, H Joseph, J Shaw, N Panagarry, V Oyesola and T Keenan Replacements: A Clinton, L Parize, C Tarnowski, E Hollingworth, A Roddy.

Dragons results/fixtures 2019 – home games played at the Sport Wales National Centre in Cardiff.

Celtic Dragons 41, Team Bath 58

January

Saturday 12 London Pulse 40, Celtic Dragons 67

Friday 25 Severn Stars 57, Celtic Dragons 40

February

Monday 4 Celtic Dragons 44, Saracens Mavericks 66

Friday 8 Strathclyde Sirens 46, Celtic Dragons 50

Monday 18  Celtic Dragons 46, Wasps 58

Monday 25 Celtic Dragons 56, Manchester Thunder 83

March

Saturday 2 Surrey Storm 46, Celtic Dragons 48

Saturday 9 Celtic Dragons 57, Loughborough Lightning 70

Saturday 16 v Team Bath (away, 5pm)

Monday 25 v London Pulse (home, 7pm)

Saturday 30 v Severn Stars (home, 4pm)

April

Saturday 6 v Manchester Storm (away, 5pm)

Saturday 3 v Strathclyde Sirens (home, 4pm)

Saturday 20 v Saracens Mavericks (away, midday)

Sunday 21 v Wasps (away, midday)

Saturday 27 v Surrey Storm (home 4pm)

May 

Saturday 4 Loughborough Lightning v Celtic Dragons (6pm)

Vitality Netball Superleague results: Strathclyde Sirens 38, Saracens Mavericks 68; Celtic Dragons 57, Loughborough Lightning 70; Manchester Thunder 66, Surrey Storm 42.

Sunday match: Wasps v Severn Stars.

Monday match live on Sky Sports: London Pulse v Team Bath (7.30pm)

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