Over the weekend, it was a rematch of last year’s Grand Final between Wasps and Loughborough Lightning, in which Lightning struck twice, but not in favor of Loughborough.
There was a case of history repeating itself as Wasps retained their title with an identical scoreline to last year’s final. The 55-51 victory sees a second consecutive title for Wasps under Tamsin Greenway’s leadership.
Coming into the final, it was Loughborough who was the more in form side as they were on a twelve game unbeaten run. They started the better side too, with Peace Proscovia converting a quick brace before Rachel Dunn got Wasps off the mark.
Dunn, who was playing in her 10th Superleague Grand Final, leveled the scores up after Ella Clark gave Lightning a two goal buffer. Lightning had opportunities to increase that lead thanks to the flying interceptions of Shamera Sterling, but the attack would break down further up the court.
The scores were tied 12 all the first break.
The crowd in the Copperbox were treated to a blistering second quarter with both sides matching each other goal for goal. Wasps mid-courter, Sophia Candappa, showed frightening accuracy and was picking out Dunn and Nat Haythornthwaite under posts with ease. A rare miss from Dunn allowed Lightning to break down the other end in which Peace would convert, giving her side a two goal lead.
This didn’t take the sting out of Wasps’ tail, as they would cut the deficit and race ahead to lead 26-22. Momentum seemed to be with Wasps as the scores read 28-24 at half time.
After the interval, the intensity of the game went up a notch, with physical battles taking place all over the court. Wasps captain, Hannah Knights, was turning over possession in which Dunn would convert under the posts.
Lightning was trailing by six before some slick link up play between Hannah Joseph, Ella Clark and Peace, which reduced the gap. Wasps would hold a 43-40 lead going into the final fifteen.
The final fifteen minutes of the season, started with Lightning getting back on level terms at 44 a piece. Once again both sides would match each other goal for goal before a pass was picked off by Sam May, which allowed Wasps to regain the lead.
A tense finish awaited, but Wasps held out with May and Knights putting in an almighty defensive shift to ensure they retained the title.
Shortly after the final, the 2018 Vitality Netball Superleague Award winners and the All Star VII, was announced.
Vitality Player of the Season – Shamera Sterling (Loughborough Lightning)
Players’ Player of the Season – Shamera Sterling (Loughborough Lightning)
Young Player of the Season – Amy Carter (Manchester Thunder) and George Fisher (Wasps Netball)
Gilbert Goalden Shot – Peace Proscovia (Loughborough Lightning)
Coach of the Season – Karen Greig (Manchester Thunder)
Umpire of the Season – Louise Travis
All Star VII
GK – Shamera Sterling (Loughborough Lightning)
GD – Layla Guscoth (Team Bath)
WD – Beth Cobden (Loughborough Lightning
C – Jade Clarke (Wasps)
WA – Liana Leota (Manchester Thunder)
GA – Kathryn Turner (Manchester Thunder)
GS – Peace Proscovia (Loughborough Lightning)