There were some changes for Celtic Dragons in the attacking end ahead of their game against Loughborough Lightning as Annika Lee-Jones returned to the starting line-up at goal-shooter, with Amy Clinton moving to goal-attack. Injuries to Laura Rudland and Leila Thomas saw them absent from the first of Dragons’ double-header weekend games, with captain Rebekah Robinson moving over to wing-attack and Shona O’Dwyer taking over at centre.
The first quarter began with a quick interception for Lightning, but Dragons gave as good as they got and did likewise to keep level. Clare Jones forced Lightning into conceding a throw-in but the Lightning defence organised themselves well to deny Dragons the chance to convert the chance. Likewise, GK Christina Shaw had a great start, pressuring Lightning’s Mary Cholhok with great footwork and a great focus on body position. Lightning seemed to be beating Dragons for a bit of pace as the quarter went on and they pressed their advantage, but it was pleasing to see the Lee-Jones/Clinton combination grow in confidence after the first 12 minutes.
Dragons had plenty to do as the second quarter began and they made a great start, capitalising on an error from Cholhok to turn the ball over, yet the transition into attack came to nothing. Some great strength and vision from Abby Tyrrell up court saw her get a tip on the ball and win Dragons a throw-in which Annika Lee-Jones slotted with ease. Despite these positives, Lightning were largely able to push on in the quarter and some changes came for Dragons with Vicky Booth coming on at wing-defence. Nevertheless, Lightning’s lead continued to grow, although there was a fantastic moment for Dragons fans to cheer as Shaw leapt up and intercepted a Loughborough feed – just about managing to keep the ball in court with her fingertips and tiptoes!
The intensity did not relent in the second half, but Dragons came out with their tails up, Tyrrell capitalising on a rebounded shot from Lightning to give her team-mates confidence. Tania Hoffman made some further changes as the quarter went on, with defender Lucy Howells coming on and Annika Lee Jones moving down to the goal-keeper position. Loughborough likewise started to make some changes having played a lot of netball over the weekend and with the result all but assured.
The final quarter saw Lightning ring some more changes as Dragons had one eye on the second part of their double-header weekend (against Wasps) tomorrow. Ultimately, it was a comfortable win for Lightning who demonstrated their championship credentials throughout the match, but Dragons can take plenty from the match heading into their next fixture.
Quarter scores: 08-15 (08-15); 04-17 (12-32); 07-24 (19-56); 04-20 (23-76).