Both sides are unbeaten following the first two rounds, but Bath have been ruthless, despatching defending champions Surrey Storm in their opening fixture with an inspired late comeback. Thunder will need to be at their absolute best for all four quarter to secure victory over Bath, who are a rejuvenated side this season, following a couple of seasons off the pace, for their high standards.
Every Superleague squad was bolstered in the off-season, with Bath bringing in England star Eboni Beckford-Chambers and South Africa shooter Lenize Potgieter, who played at the World Cup last summer.
Meanwhile Thunder notched up the highest total score of the season so far with a 72-52 win over Celtic Dragons last weekend at the Thunderdome and are showing good early-season form, too, with international signings Liana Leota and Malysha Kelly both excelling.
Black and Yellows coach Dan Ryan is well aware of the threat Bath pose to his side, but he believes they will be ready to push the SOmerset-based team all the way in round three. “Dragons were a really good test leading into the Bath game, with some really world class players out there. But for us now it is about going to the next level,” he concedes. “Team Bath are going to be one of the teams to beat and they will be full of confidence with what they have put out there so far this season,” the coach added.
Ryan says the squad have worked on how to ‘break down’ Bath in training, ahead of the key clash on Friday. The 31-year-old said: “We’ll look at how we think we can break them down in terms of the game-plan and also look at what we can do to get the run on them. We’re looking forward to the contest. You play in these types of competitions to play against the best and Bath are the benchmark so we’re looking forward to it.”
Win or lose, on Friday, Thunder will have little time to reflect, with their next clash in the league against Loughborough Lightning coming pretty swiftly on Monday, February 15, which will be screened live on Sky Sports.
Team Bath v Thunder, Friday, February 12, 7.45pm at Bath uni
Match Preview by Denise Evans