NSL Round 1 Match Report – LexisNexis Cardiff Dragons vs Saracens Mavericks

NSL Round 1 Match Report – LexisNexis Cardiff Dragons vs Saracens Mavericks


In a nail-biting finish to the Netball Super League Season Opener, the LexisNexis Cardiff Dragons delivered an exhilarating performance that culminated in a draw. The match was a true spectacle, with both teams showcasing incredible skill, agility, and determination. The crowd was on the edge of their seats as the LexisNexis Cardiff Dragons fought tirelessly to the very end.

The LexisNexis Cardiff Dragons started the game with a strong performance, keeping the Saracens Mavericks from scoring for the first four and a half minutes. They were able to do so thanks to their defensive unit, which was impenetrable, intercepting passes and forcing errors by the Mavericks. Two Dragons debutants, Leah Middleton and Jacqui Newton, made impressive contributions with tips and interceptions. Both Middleton and Newton, were standout performers, with their ability to read the game and anticipate passes.

The LexisNexis Cardiff Dragons were patient in attack, not forcing the ball into goal shooter Georgia Rowe, who is one of their key players. Instead, they kept a balanced approach, with Phillipa Yarranton, Laura Rudland, and new Dragon Khanyisa ‘KC’ Chawane contributing to the attack. We led by as much as six goals, but the Saracens Mavericks closed the gap by the end of the first quarter. A long feed from Nia Jones to Yarranton under the post to ended the quarter with slight two-goal lead to the LexisNexis Cardiff Dragons.

In the second quarter, Saracens Mavericks fought back, levelling the score with tips from their defensive end. Dragons struggled to find their rhythm for a while, and Mavericks took advantage of this to take the lead with five minutes to go. The LexisNexis Cardiff Dragons made a double substitution with less than five minutes remaining to counteract the Mavericks’ momentum, bringing on Hannah Passmore, and Beth Ecuyer-Dale to face her old side, and moving KC to wing attack. The substitutions were a smart move by Head Coach Jill McIntosh,  as the Dragons were able to regain some control of the game. Despite this, Saracens Mavericks scored a flurry of goals at the end of the quarter, taking a slight 4-goal lead into the second half.

Dragons knew they needed to make some changes to their game plan in the second half, and they did just that. The second half saw a different shooting circle for the LexisNexis Cardiff Dragons, with Hannah Passmore remaining at goal shooter, but Vice-Captain Laura Rudland re-entering the game at goal attack. The Saracens Mavericks also made some changes, and brought on Brittney Clarke to goal shooter, moving Emma Thacker to goal attack.

Building on the momentum from the end of the second quarter, Mavericks had as much as an 8-goal lead, but the new Dragons shooting circle settled halfway through the third quarter and became unstoppable, with Hannah Passmore making herself strong target under the post. Saracens Mavericks changed their defensive circle to counteract the strong LexisNexis Cardiff Dragons attacking unit, and there were swings in momentum, but the Dragons finished the quarter with the momentum shift. The third quarter saw Dragons make a nine-goal turnaround, which saw them lead by one goal heading into the final quarter.

The last quarter was goal-for-goal for the most part, with both teams showing patience and resilience. Middleton and Newton collected crucial intercepts to keep the Dragons in the lead, and Passmore held strong. Despite having the ball in the dying seconds of the match, it was Saracens Mavericks’ Aliyah Zaranyika who picked up a huge intercept, and the game ended 48-48. The newest Dragon #117, Hannah Passmore was named Player of the Match after a stellar performance. Overall, it was a hard-fought draw for the Dragons, who showed great teamwork and determination.