The Black and Yellows face Yorkshire Jets in the third-place play-off after they were beaten by Hertfordshire Mavericks at the semi final stage, missing out on a final rematch against Surrey Storm.
The semi final was disappointing performance from the team that had gone through the regular season undefeated. Mavericks will be bidding for their third Superleague win, while Surrey Storm are bidding to win the title at the fourth attempt.
Thunder will want to put that right and end the season on the best high they can, by securing victory over their fierce Roses Rivals. Traditionally, matches between Thunder and Anna Carter’s Jets are intense encounters and captain Sara Bayman expects no less when the teams meet again this weekend.
Jets have never made the semi-final stage of the Superleague season, so a third-place finish would be their highest ever in the league’s nine-year existence.
Thunder coach Tracey Neville expects a close game, especially after her side snatching a last-gasp win with a Helen Housby long-shot when the teams last met. Neville said: “Saturday is Manchester Thunder’s final and a game that is as important as all the others we have played in this season. Our games against Yorkshire Jets are always close and I am sure that the crowd will not be disappointed. Our strength has always been our ability to maintain possession irrespective of the pressure we are put under, for the first time in 4 years I do think this let us down, along with the ability to create opportunities in our attacking end something we are going to have to rectify leading into Saturday’s fixture.”
The loss to Mavericks may not have been what anyone at the club had hoped for, but the match, which was played in front of a record-breaking 4,100 fans at the Manchester Arena, was a first for domestic netball in the north. It put the sport on the map and Neville now hopes it becomes Thunder’s home venue, with the club clearly out-growing The Thunderdome’s 1,000 capacity.
Neville added: “I do wish that this game could be again played at the Manchester Arena in front of both of our home crowds ‘up north’ and replicate the magnificent event that was put on last Saturday.”
Thunder play Jets at 4pm, with the grand final between Surrey Storm and Hertfordshire Mavericks following at 6.10pm.
The final between Surrey Storm and Hertfordshire Mavericks at 6:10pm will be live on Sky Sports from 6pm.