The day didn’t start as planned with a 20-minute delay due to the centre circle being 7cm out of place. The delay clearly affect Thunder as they were slow out of the blocks in a scrappy start to the game. Captain Emma Dovey led the way with a couple of driving intercepts urging her team forward. Thunder went into the first break two goals to the good, 13-11, but you could see they were clearly not firing on all cylinders.
Into the second quarter and you could see glimpses of greatness from the black and yellows but a couple of offensive contact calls against Joyce Mvula seemed to rock their confidence and a gritty Stars team eagerly used the opportunity to nudge into the lead. Thunder were making a meal of it with several feeds way off target to Mvula, who was taken off and replaced by former Stars star Eleanor Cardwell. The Worcester-based team had the momentum and made Thunder pay as they build up a four goal lead by half time.
Coach Karen Greig rang the changes at half time with Rebekah Airey coming on for Almond at goal keeper, while Amy Carter replaced Caroline O’Hanlon at centre. Airey immediately impressed with two flying interceptions and did her best to drive Thunder back into the game. Still making heavy work of it, the home side – clearly not in the best form – but with gritted teeth slowly levelled the game just before the end of the third quarter and it was everything to play for in the final quarter with the scores at 36-all.
The fourth quarter started tentatively for both teams – not wanting to make a mistake – and it went goal for goal, but Thunder again had so many wasted opportunities. Stars seized the moment and surged five goals ahead. With five minutes to go Greig threw on O’Hanlon back at centre and Mvula to shooter, with Carter slotting back to wing defence and Laura Malcolm moving to wing attack. In a last gasp attempt to see if she could get Thunder firing again – and they did just that – as they moved back to within one goal.
The momentum was with the home team and the 1500+ crowd were shouting with everything they had. One goal down and in possession Mvula was called once again for an offensive contact as she tried to hold off Sam Cook and boos echoed around the arena. Thunder regained possession and Powell-Davies obstructed O’Hanlon who fired the ball into Turner right under the post. The umpire blew and pulled the ball back in order to caution Powell-Davies. Thunder tried to reset but the impressive Jodi-Anne Ward picked off the ball and Stars scored. The kitchen sink was thrown at Stars in the last five minutes but Thunder had given themselves a mountain to climb and were simply not consistent enough. The game ended 47-50 and it was a shock result at the Belle Vue Sports Village.
Karen Greig commented:
“It was definitely not a good day at the office. There were flashes of some really great stuff but we simply weren’t good enough over the four quarters and full credit to Stars, they brought their A-game.”
“Defeat is only good if you learn from it and we will certainly do that. It’s a big week in training this week as we continue to bid for the top four.”
Thunder starting 7: GS Mvula GA Turner WA Leota C O’Hanlon WD Malcolm GD Dovey GK Almond
Bench: Airey, Cardwell, Carter, Kindred, McAndrew
Stars starting 7: GS Rowe, GA Holtzhausen WA Harris C Darroch WD Powell-Davies GD Ward GK Cook
Bench: Kennedy, Moseley, O’Dwyer, Reed
Photo Gallery – photos by Mark Pritchard: