Thunder too strong for Dragons. Final Score 81 vs 36

Manchester Thunder were too strong for Celtic Dragons as the home side dominated from start to finish at the Thunderdome.
Dragons, without a win so far this season, will have arrived in Manchester in the hope they could force an unlikely upset.
But Thunder didn’t read that script as they ran out emphatic winners, 81-36.

It was the first start of the season for Beth Cobden at wing attack and Eleanor Cardwell came in at goal attack.
Thunder coach Tracey Neville had been rotating her shooters all season and young Alice Travis was brought into the squad to offer up options on the bench.
Thunder showed their intent from the outset, forcing a turnover from the first centre pass and Helen Housby slotted two straightforward attempts to set the tone for the remainder of the first quarter.

A week Thunder pass was intercepted by Dragons, giving them a sniff to score a turnover but Thunder keeper Kerry Almond won the ball back, and Housby made no mistake with another goal under the post. It finished 20-11 at quarter time.

A blow for Thunder at the start of the second saw Almond go down with an ankle problem and she couldn’t continue. Jodie Gibson switched to keeper and young England defender Georgie Webster came on at goal defence.
Thunder started to click through the gears midway through the second, forcing Dragons into rushed and long passes.
Their lead stretched to 30-15 and it was already beginning to be a case of damage limitation for Dragons.
They had no answer to Thunder’s power in the mid-court and Beth Cobden was linking up well with Housby and Cardwell in attack.

The Black and Yellows’ healthy lead allowed Neville to utilise her full squad, with Alice Travis coming on at shooter,  Housby moved to goal attack and Chelsea Pitman entered the game at wing attack.
Reliable Thunder captain Sara Bayman – who had had another solid game, spraying her signature bullet passes into the shooters and working tirelessly in defence – came off and Cobden moved to centre.
The Welsh outfit came out with a renewed sense of purpose after the half time break, putting pressure on Thunder’s centre court play. But they couldn’t disrupt their opponent’s rhythm, and Thunder had a 20-goal cushion.

After a below-par performance last time out against Yorkshire Jets – by her own standards – Pitman slotted straight into the game.
She lifted Thunder’s tempo further, lofting perfectly-weighted passes into her shooters and a string of two-pass centre to goal combinations really knocked the wind out of Dragons.

Georgie Webster had Dragons’ goal attack Emma Thomas in her back pocket.
This suffocated their attack, forcing errors and loose passes and Webster’s defensive partner Gibson duly picked up the scraps.
Travis’ shooting was steady and Housby seemed to enjoy more freedom on court at goal attack
Thunder played out the final quarter with some slick cross-court play, a treat for the watching crowd at the Thunderdome at those watching at home on Sky Sports.

Player of the match Jodie Gibson said: “I’m really, really happy with that.
“It feels good to get a full 60 minutes and I was happy to get on court with Georgie Webster and she was so strong.
“Complacency isn’t a word that Tracey (Neville) uses and she always demands quality.
“We pushed on and it didn’t feel like we were that far ahead out there. It was a great team performance today.”