Manchester Thunder stunned Severn Stars with a third quarter domination to win 49-62 – but made hard work of it at The Worcester Arena.
The first quarter was almost like watching a game of tennis as both sides consistently traded turnovers, neither making use of their centre pass possession. Eleanor Cardwell earned herself a starting spot at goal shooter after an impressive display against Pulse earlier in the week, however, feeders Liana Leota an Caroline O’Hanlon struggled to find the shooter’s range early on.
The Stars defence were keeping the Thunder shooters quiet with Jodi-Ann Ward given the task of marking Kathryn Turner. At the first quarter break Thunder just edged the lead by a solitary goal 12-13.
Head Coach Karen Greig kept faith with the same seven for the start of the second quarter after a few home truths during the break. After nine minutes with the scores level she’d seen enough, and brought on Joyce Mvula at goal shooter with Cardwell moving to goal attack. The changes had an immediate impact an Thunder moved through the gears to quickly build a seven goal lead by the half time whistle 22-29.
Thunder continued to gain momentum in the third, Malcolm coming on at wing defence had an impact while Greig tried a new option at centre with Carter moving up the court. Stars had no answer to Mvula as she dominated the shooting circle. Almond had to be replaced by Rebekah Airey towards the end of the quarter due to a blood injury but Thunder kept the scoreboard ticking over consistently and built up a lead of 17 by the end of the third quarter going into the final break – 33-50.
For the final quarter, Airey moved to goal defence replacing the ever present Dovey while Turner returned to the goal attack position. Stars flew out of the blocks for the final quarter putting three quick goals on the board, while Thunder seemed to be admiring their lead. Thunder missed the speed of O’Hanlon through the middle as the game went on, but were able to try out several combinations giving valuable court time to the squad. With the Thunder bench barking instructions the partnership of Almond and Airey grew in confidence and the defensive unit started to shut down the options for Stars.
Head Coach Karen Greig said: “We were slow out of the blocks an our timing was off, we were slack on attacking the ball and our placement. We had to change something as we brought Joyce on and moved Eleanor out to goal attack and it made the impact we needed at that point. It enabled us to pull away at the end of the second quarter”
“We had a great third quarter, it has been our bogey quarter in the last few games, we really stepped up the pressure. Amy Carter had a good game at both wing defence and centre and really shut down their play. We were just wasteful in attack which is really disappointing to see and a really disappointing last quarter when we should have seen out the game comfortably.”
“We need to look at our connections in training this week as our game against Loughborough next week is not going to be an easy one.”
Thunder Starting 7:
GS Cardwell, GA Turner, WA Leota C O’Hanlon WD Carter GD Dovey GK Almond.
Bench: Airey, Malcolm, McAndrew, Mvula, Thomas
Severn Stars Starting 7:
GS Rowe, GA Holzthausen WA Darroch C Harris WD Powell-Davies GD Ward GK Cook
Bench: Adio, Gabriel, Moseley, O’Dwyer Muskwe
Gallery – photos with thanks to Clive Jones: