MATCH REPORT | Celtic Dragons 54-59 Saracens Mavericks (NSL Rd14)
It’s fair to say that it certainly isn’t always an easy ride watching Mavericks!
Despite some rocky periods though, Saracens came through this test in the Welsh capital with flying colours, to pick up a third away win of the season.
Defeat last weekend against Surrey Storm had left Camilla Buchanan’s side going through a period of soul-searching, as they looked to cut out the errors.
The opening exchanges saw both sides start with a flow and spark to the match, but it was Mavericks who opened up the early advantage, thanks in part to the defensive work of Razia Quashie and the speed of play from captain Sasha Corbin.
Dragons though, have looked like a side that are on the up in recent weeks and they staged their own mini comeback towards the end of the first quarter, to edge themselves into a lead at the interval, much to the delight of the home crowd.
Mavericks though, were in no mood to let that deficit halt their charge and they came out of the blocks like a team possessed in the second quarter. Aliyah Zaranyika’s flying intercept set the tone, with Kira Rothwell and Ine-Mari Venter showing all of their nous in attack to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The gap was out to five now, with Mavericks continuing to look like the side in command, with Zaranyika again imposing herself on the play.
Mavericks made two changes early in the third quarter, with Beth Ecuyer-Dale and Monique Meyer entering the fray.
With Ecuyer-Dale steadying things for her side in the middle of the court, Mavericks looked to be controlling proceedings, only for two lapses in concentration to allow Dragons to quickly close the gap.
The Welsh side were showing all the grit and determination in this stage of the match, as Mavericks began to let errors creep into their play.
As the quarter progressed though, Saracens began to steady themselves, with Meyer popping up with a crucial intercept for her side, to allow Venter and Rothwell to keep their side three scores ahead.
The game in truth had felt like it had been on a knife-edge for much of the contest, and it was no different in the final quarter, with Dragons levelling things up shortly after the restart.
Both sides were looking to take control on their own centre passes, as the match continued to ebb and flow.
In the final five minutes though, Mavericks finally took control of the contest, with a misplaced Dragons pass, followed swiftly by a flurry of Mavericks goals to take the game away from the Welsh side.
Kira Rothwell continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over with a well-taken goal, with Mavericks seeing this one out thanks to another intervention in defence from Quashie.
This was by no-means a polished performance by Saracens. But it was another important victory on the road, with a huge amount of learnings being taken, ahead of Monday’s encounter with Loughborough at HSV.
For now though, this was the perfect tonic to defeat against Surrey Storm, with Camilla Buchanan’s side proving that they can tough it out when they need to.