Manchester Thunder made sure it was a winning start to their Bank Holiday weekend with a battling win over Sirens.
UWS Sirens held-off Thunder for long periods, especially in the first half, but their resistance faded as the game wore on and Thunder eventually ran out comfortable winners, 42-64 at the Emirates Stadium in Glasgow.
The healthy second half lead allowed head coach Karen Greig, who will have had one eye on Monday’s game against Loughborough Lightning, to rotate her squad, with all 12 players taking to the court.
Speaking after the game, Greig said: “Overall it was a fantastic result.
“There were some very uncharacteristic mistakes in the first half, which meant we were unable to get a hold of the game early on.
“But a few stern words and re focus at half time they came out and really stuck to task.
“The full court defence was immense today. For the first time this season we pushed on and grew our lead . We got all 12 players on and everyone did a good job. “
It was a relatively pedestrian start, with the centre court crowded and neither team giving their opposition much breathing space.
Thunder, especially, kept their marking tight, notably around the shooting circle edge. The pressure did start to tell as the quarter wore on, but Thunder could only get to three goals clear before Sirens pegged them back again.
It was cagey and tactical and Greig will have expected more flair and urgency from her players in the second period.
And as if by magic, they did just that, upping the tempo instantly and dictating play, especially in the centre court via Caroline O’Hanlon and Bea Skingsley, who was coming through from defence more.
Thunder’s second phase started to be a little more ruthless just as Sirens’ concentration started to wobble. It was shaping up to be a bruising encounter, with arms flailing and bodies hitting the deck on regular occasions.
Thunder surged into a six-goal lead at one point but Sirens kept on pushing for turnovers, with Emily Nicholl at goal defence hustling Kathryn Turner and Joyce Mvula’s frustration earned her a warning for delaying play when she kept hold of the ball on a Sirens backline pass.
Sirens were brilliant in pockets, especially in attack, with Shantal Slater bringing the flair. They stayed in touch, with only a four goal gap to bridge (24-28) at half time.
Thunder were a different beast in the second half, they had smartened up their play, sharpening up their passes and playing with more freedom in attack, spearheaded by a tireless Liana Leota, and Joyce Mvula was starting to find space freely and her confident and consistent performance (95% 39/41) accuracy was enough to earn her her coach’s player of the match.
Sirens enjoyed a good spell at the end of the third quarter, but Thunder, who were already 10 goals ahead, stopped the flow and had the final say of the period.
Thunder continued to dominate in the final stages of the game, despite a number of changes in every area of the court, with Kathryn Turner – one of only two players to play the whole game (captain Emma Dovey the other) – slotting in a number of her signature long shots as Thunder comfortably closed out a 22-goal victory.
Thunder starting 7: GK Almond, GD Dovey, WD Skingsley, C O’Hanlon, WA Leota, GA Turner, GS Mvula
Bench: Hoult, Clinton, Bloomfield, Morgan, Carter
Shooting stats: Mvula 95% (39/41) Turner 87% (20/23) Clinton 83% (5/6)