Manchester Thunder took a huge step towards the play-offs with victory over benecosMavericks in Hertfordshire.
Thunder had to dig deep to hold-off several comebacks from their hosts but the 47-52 win means they take three vital points back to Manchester.
Head coach Karen Greig was happy to see her side get through a tough away game.
“I’m happy to take the win and the three points,” she said.
“We flew out of the blocks in the first quarter and felt like we had enough ball to push out further.
“Our full-court defensive effort was fantastic again, but we just didn’t reward ourselves as much as we would have liked.
“We had real flashes of brilliance again but consistency eluded us at times.
“We were put under immense pressure from Mavericks at times but we maintained our composure at key points which saw us take the win.”
Thunder patiently grew into the game, soaking up the pressure and high defensive play from Mavercks, before forcing a duo of turnovers to go out to a four-goal lead midway through the opening period.
Mavericks started to show frustration and Thunder were able to pounce on mistakes, with Emma Dovey and Kerry Almond trading tips in defence.
Thunder were flowing in attack, with shooters Kathryn Turner and Joyce Mvula sharing the spoils, supported effectively by Liana Leota and Caroline O’Hanlon, who were inventive with their feeds in to the circle.
Mavericks started the second period with renewed confidence and bite, chewing away at Thunder’s lead to get to within four (20-24).
But Thunder soon regrouped and sustained their across-court defensive stance, while a number of Mavericks changes interrupted their momentum.
The Black and Yellows gradually reinforced their lead, with Leota’s vision and Amy Carter’s first line of defence a useful combination in keeping the centre-court steady.
Thunder reached half-time 23-31 to the good and it would take a very special Mavericks performance to overturn Thunder’s positive and confident first half.
And there were certainly moments of quality from the hosts, who hustled and pestered Thunder into hesitant play and once again they closed to gap to within four goals.
Coach Greig made changes – moving Carter to centre and Bea Skingley entered the fray at wing defence – in a bid to out-think Mavericks and steady the ship.
But Thunder’s resilience prevented Mavericks from getting any closer and the visitors still led at three-quarter-time.
It was perfectly set up for a juicy final quarter, with the atmosphere feisty and tense.
Thunder started the final quarter solidly, scoring five without reply, and a shell-shocked Mavericks never really recovered.
However, the umpires had become pantomime villains, loudly booed for every call against Mavericks, and the players started to feed off the noise.
They once again chipped away at the lead, but Thunder stood firm, closing out an important win, leaving them three points from securing a top-four finish.
Karen Greig’s player of the match: Emma Dovey
Thunder starting 7 to play @HertsMavericks: GK Almond, GD Dovey, WD Carter, C O’Hanlon, WA Leota, GA Turner, GS Mvula #MavsvThu
Q1: 10 – 18
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