The Black and Yellows ran out convincing 37-62 winners against an off-colour Bath. It was Thunder’s biggest win of the season so far, where they dominated across all areas of the court, from the very first whistle. Coach Dan Ryan was predictably delighted with his side’s showing against a team filled with international players. But he was keen to keep the win in perspective, especially with the next game coming so swiftly on Monday against Loughborough Lightning. Reflecting on the performance after the match, Ryan said: “I don’t think many people would have predicted that scoreline. But the girls stuck really well to task tonight and their application was sensational. I’m really pleased by the level of performance from everyone that took to the court for us.”
Ryan selected Helen Housby (43/47 at 91%) as his player of the match, with the young England shooter part of a formidable attacking trio alongside Liana Leota and Natalie Haythornthwaite. “They stepped up to the level of intensity today against a quality side who are among the favourites to win the title, with an impressive backline, who are world-class, those three seemed to rise to the occasion,” he added.
But Ryan believes it was in defence where the game was really won, with Jamaican defender Malysha Kelly, who was the at the heart of a superb defence that restricted Bath to just 37 goals ( including just six in the final quarter) in a physical and testing game. He said of the Sunshine Girl: “Malysha was tenacious and feisty and she was a great anchor for us at the back. She might be shy and reserved but on court she’s an absolute competitor and it’s great to see that fire form her.”
Thunder rocketed into a five-goal lead from the outset, offering Bath very little opportunity to get on the scoreboard for the opening exchanges. And never looked like relinquishing their lead. They relentlessly pressed the Somerset-based side, who appeared shell-shocked by Thunder’s intensity and blistering pace.
The first quarter set the tone for the rest of the game, with Thunder audacious, sassy and inventive in attack and gritty, athletic and intelligent in defence. Coupled with solid support form the centre court, Thunder had Bath chasing shadows for large periods of the contest. It was a bruising encounter throughout, but Thunder stood up to Bath’s physicality and refused to stray off task. Apart from a small period in the third quarter, Thunder outscored – and out-thought – their opponents. Bath’s uncharacteristic error-ridden display should not take away from Thunder’s ability to pick-off such a strong team at will.
Report by Denise Evans
Quarter score breakdown:
Q1 – 11-19
Q2 – 20-32
Q4 – 37-62