Celtic Dragons have suffered from rotten luck the first couple of weeks in this new Vitality Netball Superleague season.
Cardiff-based Dragons are bottom of the table having lost their first three fixtures including a 69-38 defeat in their latest outing against joint league leaders London Pulse at the Copperbox Arena.
They were without suspended defender Latanya Wilson, who was sent off during Dragons’ loss against Team Bath, and Lucy Howells, who has broken a bone in a hand.
Thankfully, Dee Bolokaro was back with the team after missing the Bath clash because she was on duty with the British Army. The disruption to their defensive circle has thrown Dragons off course.
Captain Sophie Morgan and her team were level after the opening quarter against Pulse and still in contention, five goals behind, at half-time.
— Sky Sports Netball (@SkyNetball) March 10, 2020
But they were punished in the final two quarters and now look to bounce back when Scottish team Strathclyde Sirens come to South Wales on Monday, March 16 (7pm).
Dragons were patient in attack and polished in defence during the opening two periods against Pulse, making the most of counter-attack opportunities.
The movement and awareness of Morgan at centre was a plus for Dragons and she linked well with wing-defence Paige Kindred.
There was a noticeable rise in intensity during the second quarter with Pulse aiming to up the tempo, but the visitors held their own for the most part and were only five goals behind at half-time.
Brittany Coleman was sent on during the third, taking over from Rebekah Robinson, adding bags of energy to the Dragons display.
Annie O’Rourke and Laura Burton were sent on in the fourth quarter. O’Rourke played at wing-defence with Kindred moving to goal-defence and Bolakaro to goal-keeper, while Burton took over from Morgan.
It was a tough match for Dragons, who will be delighted to have Jamaican defender Wilson back in the team against Strathclyde.
Quarter scores (Pulse first): 14-14; 14-9 (28-23); 20-8 (48-31); 21-7 (69-38)
London Pulse: Sigi Burger, Chiara Semple, Aden Thomas, Ashleigh Dekker, Michelle Drane, Lindsay Keable, Halimat Adio. Replacements: Funmi Fadouji, Kira Rothwell, Olivia Tchine
Celtic Dragons: GS Amy Clinton, GA Rebekah Robinson, WA Shona O’Dwyer, C Sophie Morgan (capt), WD Paige Kindred, GD Abby Tyrrell, GK Dee Bolakoro. Replacements: Annie O’Rourke, Laura Burton, Britanny Coleman
Vitality Netball Superleague
Celtic Dragons fixtures 2020 (19 regular season rounds)
Saturday 22: Celtic Dragons 43, Surrey Storm 44
Saturday 29: Celtic Dragons 52, Team Bath 71
Monday 9: London Pulse 69, Celtic Dragons 38
Monday 16: Celtic Dragons v Strathclyde Sirens (Sports Wales National Centre, 7pm)
Saturday 21: Manchester Thunder v Celtic Dragons (Belle Vue, 5pm)
Saturday 28: Celtic Dragons v Saracens Mavericks (Sports Wales National Centre, 4pm)
Monday 6: Severn Stars v Celtic Dragons (Gloucester University, 7pm)
Friday 10: Loughborough Lightning v Celtic Dragons (Sir David Wallace Arena, 7pm)
Monday 13: Celtic Dragons v Loughborough Lightning (Sport Wales National Centre, 7pm)
Saturday 18: Surrey Storm v Celtic Dragons (Surrey Sports Park, 6pm)
Saturday 25: Celtic Dragons v Wasps (Viola Arena, 4pm)
Wednesday 29: Team Bath v Celtic Dragons (Team Bath Arena, 7.30pm)
Saturday 2: Celtic Dragons v London Pulse (Viola Arena, 4pm)
Saturday 9: Strathclyde Sirens v Celtic Dragons (Emirates Arena, 2pm)
Saturday 16: Celtic Dragons v Manchester Thunder (Sport Wales National Centre, 4pm)
Saturday 23: Saracens Mavericks v Celtic Dragons (Hertfordshire Sports Village, 4pm)
Saturday 30: Celtic Dragons v Severn Stars (Sport Wales National Centre, 4pm)
Saturday 6: Celtic Dragons v Surrey Storm (Viola Arena, 4pm)
Monday 15: Wasps v Celtic Dragons (University of Warwick, 7pm)
Saturday 27: Knockout semi-finals (Venue to be confirmed)
Saturday 4: Grand final (Venue to be confirmed, 5.30pm)