Celtic Dragons welcomed Severn Stars to the Sports Wales National Centre for their round 17 clash on Saturday, May 7.
The home side took the first goal after a fast-paced start from the Dragons, but Stars looked to instantly reply through Cat Tuivaiti as the pair went goal for goal.
It didn’t take long before Tuivaiti produced a play of excellence as she performed a fake pass before laying it off to the edge of the circle with a no look pass and finding its way into the arms of the newly named Future Roses’ Paige Reed.
A first unforced error from Dragons saw a high ball float over the head of Georgia Rowe with Stars looking to capitalise on the mistake but a mix up in the mid-court saw the home side regain possession. Back and forth, Dragons couldn’t break Stars and it was Reed who eventually turned over play and converted her shot.
As the first quarter played out, Tuivaiti again showed her excellence after producing some great rotational footwork before finding Bethan Dyke on the edge of the shooting circle who then threaded the ball into Reed, scoring to draw their lead by two.
Going goal for goal, Annabel Roddy looked to create a turnover as she spotted the run of the Stars’ mid court and came flying in to intercept. The passage of play was not over yet as she released the ball up into the attacking third finding the arms of Rowe, scoring.
With the game tightly poised, Reed got stuck into the defensive work as she forced a turnover and put her side ahead in the closing stages. Rowe scoring on the buzzer drew the game to just a one goal difference at the end of Q1 – 13-14.
Dragons came out firing as the in-form Shaquanda Greene-Noel produced a controlled interception with one hand to spark the counterattack in which her side capitalised on through Rowe once again.
With the lively crowd behind them, the home side drew a four-goal lead after the mid court sent a looping ball into the attacking third which found Rowe who comfortably dispatched the shot.
Melissa Bessell looked to adjust her attacking duo as Reed made way for Katie Harris who took no time to score her first goal of the match.
Substitute Hannah Leighton placed herself on the edge of the circle looking to intercept Stars’ play but it wasn’t long before the away side regained possession as a misplaced pass was picked up and sent them on a counterattack, finding Tuivaiti who scored.
As half time approached, Harris played a long ball over to Tuivaiti but not before Greene-Noel spotted the play and was first to it to put the ball out for a throw in. The danger was not cleared for long as the throw in found Harris who calmly drew her side back into the game.
In no time, Tuivaiti retained her 100% accuracy as she netted back-to-back goals for Stars as they reduced the deficit to just two, heading into the break with the score line at 29-27.
Stars looked to come out firing as a rare unforced error from Lefebre Rademan allowed the visitors a chance to break with Tuivaiti in space as she drew the game level at 30-30.
Dragons’ intensity increased as they fired ahead once again after their patient build up play eventually weaved through the Stars defence and broke to Rademan who dispatched the shot.
Rademan was once again involved in the Dragons’ attack after she battled with substitute Dee Bolakoro to produce a quick turnover and conversion.
Greene-Noel again showed her determination and ability after outjumping the Stars attack to regain possession for her side and cut out the danger. As they come away with the ball, Dragons apply high pressure as they look to capitalise on their turnover.
Stretching their lead to five, Dragons continued to control the third quarter after Rowe and Rademan consecutively converted.
As the game began to open up, Stars looked to fall further behind as Dragons were clinical with their takes and began to run away with the game as they further extended their lead by 10 goals through Rademan.
Heading into the final 15 minutes, Dragons led 46-34.
With one quarter left, Stars looked to produce a comeback through Tuivaiti as she received a quick ball in to reduce the deficit to seven. Dragons, however continued to push as they hoped to secure their third victory of the season – second against Stars.
Stars kept one foot in the match as Tuivaiti continued her 100% goal ratio after slotting home her penalty but as the clocked ticked down, the home side pursued with like-for-like goals.
Entertaining the crowd, Rowe produced a creative piece of footwork as she released the ball into the net and scoring just before stepping off the court.
As the game drew to a close, the desire remained high for both sides as Stars were looking to further reduce the deficit and look to create a comeback but as they looked to close the gap, Dragons continued to hit back, going goal for goal once again.
On the buzzer, Rowe converted the final shot to ensure her side of a 57-51 win and secured all three points.
Player of the Match: Celtic Dragons’ Laura Rudland