Surrey Storm 46 Celtic Dragons 48
Celtic Dragons earned success in a Storm and now focus on making sure Lightning fails to strike in Cardiff next Saturday.
Captain Nia Jones and her Dragons earned their third Vitality Netball Superleague win of the season, beating Surrey Storm 48-46 away, and are now fired up for Loughborough Lightning’s visit to the Sports Wales National Centre on Saturday, March 9 (4pm).
It was a thrilling, emotional success against Storm and head coach Tania Hoffman said: “I’m so proud of the girls.
“Surrey Storm came back really hard at us, but we can’t afford to let teams do that. It’s important that when we have that lead, we extend it.”
The next test for Dragons is against Loughborough and Hoffman said: “The girls have to rest well and then train hard. Lightning are playing really well and we have to shift momentum our way.”
It was a stunning Dragons win against Hoffman’s former club and she said: “It felt strange coming back to the place where I’d been for two seasons, but really nice to be here.
“Storm fans and staff have been really lovely and it felt like home.”
Nia Jones proclaimed a ‘sweet victory’ and said: “We were really clinical in that first five minutes and I’m really disappointed in how we let them back into the game.
“We made it a bit of a dogfight for ourselves in the end but I am so pleased on how we came through.
“It’s such a physical game against Surrey in front of a partisan crowd, so it’s a really sweet victory.”
Dragons started strongly with centre Kyra Jones setting up some flowing attacks, while Dee Bolakoro and Stacian Facey’s defensive partnership quickly imposed itself on the home team shooters.
Dragons went eight goals ahead at 11-3, but errors crept in and soft infringements allowed Surrey to get back to within five.
Clare Elsley went on at centre for the second quarter, while there was no love lost between Jamaican ace Facey and Sigi Burger as an already physical game went up another notch.
Indeed, Storm earned two cautions and Dragons were able to maintain their advantage.
Abby Tyrrell was sent on to take over seamlessly for Bolakoro as the quarter wore on as Kalifa McCollin and Chelsea Lewis continued pop the goals in.
Kyra Jones rejoined the fray after half-time as the Dragons looked to shut out the home team and give their vocal supporters nothing to cheer.
Suzy Drane was in flying form and did a great job of supporting McCollin, who Storm had begun to double mark, such was her attacking threat.
Kyra and Facey both demonstrated great athleticism in their respective positions as Surrey struggled to find a way in, but as the infringements mounted for both sides, time was called by the officials who ordered the captains to call have a word with their players and tidy up the game.
However, neither team let up the intensity and pressure. Heading into the final quarter, the score stood at 35-39.
The intensity grew as Storm began to close the gap even more in the final quarter.
That seemed to stop the Dragons’ positive momentum abruptly had built in the quarter
Surrey had the best of the final 120 seconds in the third quarter and set themselves up for a big final 15 minutes.
With five minutes to go the atmosphere was electric and all players were tired, but Dragons’ senior players played decisive roles with Suzy Drane and Nia Jones prominent.
They were urging team-mates to stay patient and gave Storm little to work with.
With a minute to go Dragons were only ahead by one goal and managed to clinch a last second score to clinch their away win.
The ability of Dragons to close the game out paid great tribute to the resilience of the squad and its development under Hoffman.
Next fixture: Dragons v Lightning at Sport Wales National Centre next Saturday
Storm v Dragons:
Quarter scores: 11-16 (11-16); 12-13 (23-29); 12-10 (35-39); 11-9 (46-48)
Surrey Storm: GS S Burger, GA Y Hodge-England, WA Y Parsons, C M Austin, WD S Van Der Merwe, GD K Hughes (capt), GK L Kowalewska. Replacements: R Dixon, E Gulvin, N Humphrys, E Porter A Priest
Celtic Dragons: GS C Lewis, GA K McCollin, WA S Drane, C K Jones, WD N Jones (capt), GD D Bolakoro, GK S Facey. Replacements: B Dyke, E Nawele, E Roberts, A Tyrrell, C Elsley.
Vitality Netball Superleague results: Team Bath 60, Manchester Thunder 56; Surry Storm 46, Celtic Dragons 48; Loughborough Lightning 56, London Pulse 51; Wasps 61, Strathclyde Sirens 34.
Monday fixture: Severn Stars v Saracens Mavericks.
Dragons results/fixtures 2019 – home games played at the Sport Wales National Centre in Cardiff.
Celtic Dragons 41, Team Bath 58
Saturday 12 London Pulse 40, Celtic Dragons 67
Friday 25 Severn Stars 57, Celtic Dragons 40
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
Saturday 2 Surrey Storm 46, Celtic Dragons 48
Saturday 9 v Loughborough Lightning (home, 4pm)
Saturday 16 v Team Bath (away, 5pm)
Monday 25 v London Pulse (home, 7pm)
Saturday 30 v Severn Stars (home, 4pm)
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)
Saturday 4 Loughborough Lightning v Celtic Dragons (6pm)