Team Bath won the fourth annual Mike Greenwood Trophy, after beating hosts Manchester Thunder in the final. The tournament was set up to honour the memory of the former Black and Yellows coach, who died in 2011. Thunder went undefeated throughout the five round-Robin matches – all against Superleague teams – but ultimately lost the title they were bidding to win for the fourth time in a row.
Coach Dan Ryan, who joined the side as head coach in the summer, said: “It was a disappointing end to what had been a great day.Before that match we’d produced some really good netball but just couldn’t put it together in the final. Full credit to Team Bath, they came at us with a real sense of purpose and restricted us on what we were trying to do out there. I think fatigue has played a part in it but no excuses. We were outplayed by a better team on the day and we can take a lot of lessons from that match.”
Ryan’s squad looked strong throughout the day, sweeping aside Team Northumbria (31-12) and Celtic Dragons (25-9), and had secured a comfortable opening win against Roses Rivals Yorkshire Jets (21-6). But new-look Loughborough Lightning (18-16) and Team Bath (19-17), who have both significantly strengthened their squads in the off-season by bringing in a number of international players, including England’s Jade Clarke (Lightning) and Eboni-Beckford Chambers (Bath), proved much bigger tests for Thunder. And the home side ran out of steam by the final as Bath powered to a 13-9 victory, with their new star shooter, South African import Lenize Potgieter, leading their attack with 100 percent shooting accuracy.
Despite the disappointing loss, Ryan will take heart from seeing the majority of his senior squad take to the court and produce some fluid combination play and solid defensive work. He will have been especially pleased with young defender Jodie Gibson, who was named Thunder Player of the Tournament by an onlooking England coach Tracey Neville and shooter Jo Harten.
On her team’s showing at the Thunderdome today, the 23-year-old added: “Although we didn’t win, we played some really good netball, moved the ball fast and linked in together well and we still have two new players to come in, so it’s exciting. Congratulations to Team Bath, their imports look like they’ve gelled really well. It should be a great season!”
Thunder begin their Vitality Superleague campaign on January 30 in Birmingham as part of the inaugural Super Saturday opening day, where all eight franchises play in the same day.