Manchester Thunder fell just short of a place in the Superleague Grand Final after losing to Loughborough Lightning 59-50 in Leicester.
The Black and Yellows were gutsy and determined but Lightning weathered anything their visitors could throw at them, and will face Wasps in the final at the Copperbox on 7 July.
It was a pulsating semi-final, with Lightning repeatedly threatening to pull away but Thunder refused to let them get out of sight, defending doggedly and scoring difficult chances at the other end.
However, they were up against one of the league’s top shooters in Peace Proscovia, who shot at 93% in the game and star defender Shamera Sterling was in imperious form, locked in a intense battle with Thunder’s Joyce Mvula (who still managed to shoot at 94%).
Thunder did have considerable success in Lightning’s attacking third, captain Emma Dovey leading the defensive line with tips and flying intercepts, while Amy Carter at wing defence was a thorn in Hannah Joseph’s side all game.
And the solid defensive work was complimented at the other end in attack, with Kathryn Turner producing another masterclass in long-range shooting under pressure and Liana Leota displayed her signature trickery to feed the shooters and bamboozle her defender.
Thunder finished with impressive 90% shooting stats
But – combined with some frustrating umpire calls, missing the chance to consolidate turnovers they’d battled so hard to create and coming up against a feisty and well-drilled Lightning side – Thunder were unable to overhaul their rivals, who deservedly take their spot in the final.