Celtic Dragons have a new spring in their step after earning back-to-back Vitality Netball Superleague victories.
Newly-appointed coach Julie Hoornweg has sent morale and team spirit sky high and her Dragons players have responded in style.
They followed a 55-50 win against Surrey Storm by beating Severn Stars 49-40, both at Sport Wales National Centre, Cardiff.
“I’m loving it,” said Australian Hoornweg, whose sheer enthusiasm for her role and coaching knowhow is helping to bring out the best in Dragons players.
“I love the attitude of our players. They all want to learn and get better.
“It’s a fantastic feeling.
“The girls played real quality netball in the second half. They have been great in training, taking on board information.
“First up we worked on skills to make sure we get the ball from one player to another. Accuracy helps.
“During the first half against Stars we didn’t treasure the ball enough and were not quite following what we had practiced. In the second half we started to control the middle channel and once we did that we were okay.”
Dragons have one Superleague match left, against leaders Wasps away on Sunday, before focusing on the Commonwealth Games.
Hoornweg is in charge of her Welsh Dragons team and will lead the national team to the Gold Coast in Australia next month.
There has been a surge in confidence and team spirit in the new regime and the players were thrilled with the win against Worcester-based Severn Stars.
Georgia Rowe tweeted: “I am absolutely buzzing!!! I love this team and am so proud of our last two performances. We have really stepped things up and have now found our feet. Thank you for all your support.”
Bethan Dyke said: “So proud of our team tonight @celtic_dragons. Dug deep till the end and still have more to come.
“Thanks to the #greenarmy for your support.”
Kelly Morgan described the win as ‘awesome’ and joined team-mates in saying congratulations to player of the match Cara Lea Moseley.
Visitors Severn Stars drew first blood in sixth round Superleague match, but Dragons responded in determined style.
Amanda Varey’s long range pass from mid court set up Moseley for a shot at goal. Her effort rebounded twice before team-mate Georgia Rowe picked up the pieces.
Within minutes Moseley helped to put Dragons 5-3 ahead with five minutes gone.
An accidental tumble by Severn Stars’ Phumza Maweni was quickly walked off and by mid period the away team were level at 6-6.
The teams were locked on 11-11 after the first quarter and Dragons sent on Kyra Jones on for Varey in the second period. Jones made an immediate impact with an interception for the team in green.
A fabulous take from captain Suzy Drane was welcomed with applause from the crowd as Dragons worked to break the deadlock. Midway through the period there seemed to be a slight shift in momentum for the away team and earlier this season Dragons could have seen things get away from them, but the squad were gritty and the score remained tied at 24-24 going into the second half.
The second half began with excellent defensive work from Morgan and, while Stars did sneak into a two-goal advantage, Dragons hit back.
Morgan’s sterling work and a touch of frustration for the visitors led to Dragons taking a five-goal lead after the third period.
Dragons were outstanding and even late-period jitters were put to bed by another save by Morgan.
Moseley, whose brilliance at goal summed up the home team’s second half dominance, was named player of the match for her work at both goal-attack and goal-shooter.
Quarter scores (Dragons first): 11-11 (11-11) 13-13 (24-24) 14-9 (38-33) 11-7 (49-40)
Celtic Dragons: G Rowe, CL Moseley, B Dyke, A Varey, S Drane (capt), N Jones, K Morgan. Replacements: F Davies, K Jones, S Llewelyn, E Roberts, L Thomas
Severn Stars: E Cardwell, M Holtzhausen, L Rudland, L Malcolm [C], J Gibson, S Cook, P Maweni. Replacements: R Allison, D Ford-Gordon, S Carter, A Davis, R Oatley.
Vitality Netball Superleague results last weekend: Loughborough Lightning 53, Surrey Storm 51; Team Bath 51, Manchester Thunder 60; Celtic Dragons 49, Severn Stars 40; benecosMavericks 46, UWS Sirens 44; Wasps 74, Team Northumbria 38.
Vitality Netball Superleague fixtures (final weekend of matches before break for Commonwealth Games):
Friday 16: Manchester Thunder v benecosMavericks (7.30pm); UWS Sirens v Severn Stars (7.30pm).
Saturday 17: Loughborough Lightning v Team Bath (6pm); Team Northumbria v Surrey Storm (6pm).
Sunday 18: Wasps v Celtic Dragons (6pm).
VITALITY SUPERLEAGUE 2018
VITALITY SUPERLEAGUE 2018