VNSL 2022 Team Preview: Celtic Dragons

COMING off a last placed finish in the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) last season, the only way is up for Celtic Dragons. The Dragons won one game in the 2021 VNSL season, defeating Surrey Storm on April 30. Aside from that sole victory, it was largely tough going for the standalone Welsh side with the least goals scored (675) and the most conceded (1058) with a minus-383 goal difference.

The Dragons have had a high turnover across the off-season with nine players leaving, and five coming in the door from other VNSL clubs. Starting with those departing, Annika Lee-Jones has left after one season, with Abigail Tyrrell (Strathclyde Sirens), Amy Clinton (Leeds Rhinos) and Christina Shaw (Wasps) also out the door. With Rebekah Robinson also leaving, it means both circles have lost their starters.

The depth in defensive circle from the outs alone is a concern with Annie O’Rourke joining Shaw, Tyrrell and Lee-Jones as omissions for 2022. Up the other end, Rebecca Baker has also left, while Victoria Booth makes it eight of the 12 players at the Dragons’ Round 20 clash with Severn Stars no longer at the club. So with all that in mind, what have the Dragons done to off-set those losses?

One of the most versatile talents going around, the Dragons have recruited new Scottish international Hannah Leighton who will immediately slot into the team. She can play in the defensive goal circle, but was able to move through the midcourt. With the Dragons midcourt relatively settled, it will be interesting to see whether or not she returns to defence.

In the back third of the court, Nia Jones will provided much-needed support, potentially locking away goal defence given the clear need for a replacement in that role. She will team up with former Loughborough Lightning defender Annabel Roddy, who will be able to implement some aspects of the premiership-winning Lightning mentality.

Shaquanda Greene-Noel might not have come from the VNSL, but the Trinidad and Tobago international defender provides strong support in the defensive circle. That means Jones, Roddy and Leighton will have depth for the latter to move further up the court if need be. Louise Marsden is another inclusion for the Dragons’ 2022 side.

Up the other end, Georgia Rowe comes into the side as a readymade goal shooter out of the Severn Stars. She will need to form a new partnership with ex-London Pulse goaler Lefébre Rademan who can slide to the wing attack if required.

From the midcourt last season, Clare Jones, Laura Rudland and Shona O’Dwyer remain from that last match. Leila Thomas is also among the defenders with training partner Lucy Howells, while Katarina Short, and training partners Eleanor Roberts and Celyn Emanuel round out the squad.


GK: Annabel Roddy
GD: Nia Jones
WD: Clare Jones
C: Hannah Leighton
WA: Shona O’Dwyer
GA: Lefebre Rademan
GS: Georgia Rowe

Of all the VNSL sides, trying to work out the Dragons’ starting seven is by far the hardest. Both circles have been replaced, and whilst Leighton has been known for her work as a defender, she dominated as a midcourter for Scotland. Her work there may see her slide into centre, with the attacking O’Dwyer at wing attack, and Jones back at wing defence. Rudland could also rotate through wing attack and Leighton and O’Dwyer slide back, but with the likes of Greene-Noel and Thomas also on the bench, the defensive goal circle is well covered.

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