There was a five star contribution from Northern Ireland as Team Northumbria beat Celtic Dragons 62-52 in their first home match in this year’s British SuperLeague.
Captain Noleen Lennon led from the front and had invaluable assistance from four Northern Ireland team-mates as Northumbria thrilled a packed crowd at Newcastle’s Sport Central.
The Tyneside franchise struggled in SuperLeague last year but have been rejuvenated by the signing of leading Northern Ireland internationals including Lennon, who previously spent a season with Northumbria in 2006.
Partnered by international colleague Oonagh McCullough, the Northern Ireland legend was on fire in the shooting circle as Northumbria made their chances count.
The experienced Caroline O’Hanlon ensured a steady supply to the front two on a night Northumbria managed more than a goal a game during the hour.
Young defender Fionnuala Toner also played the full hour while Northern Ireland captain Gemma Gibney came on at half-time and played a crucial role in keeping the attempted Dragons comeback at bay.
Gibney, just returning following knee surgery, had missed the opening night defeat at champions Team Bath when Northumbria took heart from only losing 59-45.
The Cardiff franchise were beaten by Bath in the final last season when Northumbria finished bottom of the pile, but the Tyne team has been totally overhauled.
Kate Carpenter’s team led 14-6 at the first interval and the half-time score was 28-20.
Northumbria eased out to 42-36 entering the last period and then really raised their game again with an impressive 20-goal blitz in that final 15 minutes to win by 10.
The victory sets Northumbria up perfectly for tonight’s trip to Leeds to face Yorkshire Jets in a match which will be televised live on Sky Sports (8pm).