MEL MANSFIELD has called for better service to Wasps’ goal shooters after a 62-55 defeat to Manchester Thunder in Saturday’s season-opener.
Wasps were narrowly beaten by the reigning champions in a repeat of last year’s Grand Final, ensuring the Coventry club were short of any sort of buzz on the first weekend of the season.
Mansfield understands, however, that performance levels will rise as the season progresses and said: “To give ourselves a six-goal deficit was tough. We kept clawing things back but then at critical moments we would give the ball away.
“I think we need to be able to confidently pass the ball into our shooters and I think a lot of that is down to confidence, which I’m sure will grow throughout the season.
“It was just a disappointing and frustrating performance, particularly in the first quarter of the game.”
The encounter was not without it’s positives though, with the Wasps head coach especially pleased with appearances for the club’s trio of debutants.
“It was great to get three new Wasps out there in Iona Christian, Alexia Baker and Sienna Rushton, so that’s one definite positive,” she added.
“It’s a big game against Saracens Mavericks next week now. It will be nice to be back at home at the Ricoh Arena on an important Monday night for us.”
Thunder struck with three unanswered goals to get proceedings under way, leaving Wasps on the back foot at Manchester Thunderdome from the very start.
While Katie Harris netted the visitors’ first goal this season, her side were unable to find their rhythm and gave up a number of turnovers to the confident hosts.
In terms of goal threat, debutant Christian linked up notably well with Harris, helping Wasps make inroads into hauling themselves back on to level terms.
Although the away side found themselves 17-11 behind at the end of quarter one, there was enough to suggest that momentum could be built heading towards half-time.
But, with England international Eleanor Cardwell fit and firing in Manchester’s ranks, that task was made all the more difficult.
The half-time break arrived with Wasps 31-25 behind – a scoreline which they remained confident of overturning.
Thunder began to edge further away from their opponents during quarter three, putting themselves eight goals in front at 47-39 heading into the final 15.
It was an advantage that was enough to help them claim an opening victory at the expense of last year’s finalists, with more clinical finishing being the difference on the day.
On Monday (7.30pm), Wasps welcome the current leaders Saracens, who enjoyed a 70-49 win over Severn Stars.