WASPS Netball signed off their regular season campaign with a 60-45 victory over rivals Severn Stars, ahead of their Vitality Superleague play-off semi-final against Loughborough Lightning on Saturday (5pm).
It was a dominant performance by the Wasps at the University of Worcester Arena, holding an early lead which they never looked likely to relinquish.
Mel Mansfield’s side go into Saturday’s semi-final knowing a win will book a place in the Grand Final for a third consecutive year, as they hunt for a third title.
The winners will play the victors of Saturday’s other semi-final – Manchester Thunder or Team Bath.
Mansfield was left delighted by the application of her side ahead of Saturday’s big game.
“Stars are a really tough team to play against so I’m very pleased with a 15-point victory over them heading into next week.
“I tried out a few different combinations today to prepare for next weekend.
“Defensively I thought we were brilliant and I’m really excited by what we are producing at that end of the court.
The Wasps head coach said it was the perfect preparation for the play-offs, and was pleased by the defensive work-rate of her players.
“We’ve been working on some through-court defending – all seven players defended really well and I’m pleased with the amount of balls that we won.
“This was a really useful game for us, and we have a big week of preparation ahead of us now.”
The reigning champions took a 5-0 lead through Rachel Dunn and Katie Harris goals, following turnovers in the mid-court, before Stars hit a quickfire double of their own.
Harris and Dunn then took the initiative for Wasps to open a 15-7 lead heading into the second quarter.
The hosts, to their credit, fought back, but could not build up a significant wave of momentum – with Fran Williams and Hannah Knights often stopping the Stars in their tracks.
Wasps took an eight-point lead after turnovers by Bongi Msomi and Jake Clarke fed the attacking duo of Harris and Dunn, ensuring the visitors had a 33-22 lead at the break.
Mansfield brought in Josie Huckle at Goalkeeper, Jade Clarke at Wing Defence, and Amy Flanagan at Centre – with the latter immediately finding Dunn to score.
Severn Stars brought the game back into contention with a strong end to the third quarter, narrowing the deficit to just six points.
With Jade Clarke moving into the centre, Wasps were able to control the game.
Having won a succession of defensive rebounds, Wasps countered and extended their lead through the efficient Goal Attack, running out with a 60-45 victory.
Tickets for Wasps’ semi-final with Loughborough Lightning can be purchased online at www.waspsnetball.co.uk, with the play-off taking place at the University of Warwick’s new Sport and Wellness Hub.