WASPS Netball reached a third successive Grand Final last weekend, after beating last year’s finalists Loughborough Lightning 74-54 at the University of Warwick’s Sports and Wellness Hub.
The Black and Golds will now do battle against Manchester Thunder on Saturday (5:30pm) at the Copper Box Arena in London, where they stand in line to secure a third straight Vitality Superleague crown.
Head coach Mel Mansfield spoke of her excitement for the upcoming showpiece, and has her sights firmly set on winning a first title in the Wasps hot seat, having overseen the previous two crowns as assistant coach.
“I’ve been dreaming about this moment, I’m so delighted and pleased for the girls.
“The players delivered the game plan that we have been preparing for a couple of weeks.
Mansfield highlighted the impact that Amy Flanagan had on the game, and hailed the clinical finishing in attack.
“Amy was Player of the Match and rightly so.
“She changed the game in the second-quarter, some of her play was simply magical and it was a Wing Defence masterclass.
“Shooting was fantastic from both of our shooters and they hardly missed.
“We didn’t make any changes in the game but we felt that seven fully deserved to see it through with a performance like that.”
The visitors enjoyed a fast start to the game, finding three goals from centre-pass without reply, before Rachel Dunn registered the first of the night for Wasps
Loughborough’s Mary Cholhok was impressive going forward, but her side was pegged back when a turnover from the hosts resulted in a leveller.
Cholhok then sunk three successive shots into the net to put the Lightning back in front before the end of quarter one, despite Wasps narrowing the advantage to just one.
A fightback instigated in the second-quarter put Wasps in the driving seat, a position they would not relinquish for the remainder of the game, when they led by three soon after the restart.
The hosts were constantly provided with the ball, thanks to the endeavors of Flanagan to force turnovers and help Wasps build up a head of steam.
Even with Cholhok proving clinical for the Lightning, Wasps kept the stream of goals coming, and maintained a three-goal lead going in at half-time.
That lead was soon six, with Fran Williams becoming a thorn in Loughborough’s side in defence throughout the third-quarter.
A shooting masterclass by Dunn and Katie Harris opened up a nine-goal cushion heading into the final 15 minutes of the semi-final, with Wasps’ task made somewhat more straightforward by the departure of Cholhok through injury.
Interceptions from Flanagan and co. continued to send Wasps forward in search of further goals to kill off any unlikely Loughborough fightback, and led by 20 goals by the time the final buzzer sounded Wasps’ passage to the Grand Final.