The wait is almost over.
One of the most hotly-anticipated matches of the Superleague season will take place on Manchester’s biggest stage on Saturday.
Manchester Thunder will face defending champions Wasps at the Manchester Arena, for Netball Manchester Live 2018.
The visitors will be wounded beasts determined to come back fighting after suffering their first loss of the season against Loughborough Lightning last time out.
But they will meet a team with plenty of fire in their bellies, too. Thunder will be determined to avenge their defat to Wasps earlier in the season – and to win in front of their home crowd.
Thunder go into this game after thumping Celtic Dragons in Cardiff in the previous round, and although head coach Karen Greig has taken plenty of positives from that game, Wasps will be much harder to sting.
It may be a bigger venue, but the city is the same, the Thunder army of fans will chant familiar songs and the drums will still ring out.
And that is exactly the attitude Greig has adopted in preparing her squad for this game, which will be played out in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
“There’s no different mindset for the arena game, we’re still in Manchester, we’ve still not got far to go and it’s our home venue for that day, ” she said.
“We don’t approach it any differently. We approach the venue – and Wasps – the same way we’d approach any team.”
However, the significance of the venue is not lost on Greig – or Thunder – with last year’s Superleague final weekend, which was scheduled to be played at the arena for the fist time, was forced to move following the terror attack on 22 May, which killed 22 innocent following an Ariana Grande concert.
“We want to get in the big arenas and play on the biggest stage,” Greig explains.
“It’s unfortunate we didn’t get to play there last year, but we have 22 bees on our kit this season and that’s to show that those 22 lives will never be forgotten at Thunder.”
Thunder pushed Wasps into digging deep into their reserves to beat them in Coventry when the two sides met in April, with the Midlands-based team squeezing out the victory, 64-60.
And it was the Black and Yellows’ gutsy performance in front of a partisan away crowd that has givns Greig genuine belief that her charges can see-off Wasps on home soil this weekend.
She said: “Our last outing against them was a really strong performance, as was there’s and it was just unfortunate we were on the wrong end of the result.
“If we put out that performance again at the Arena with a couple of less errors, there is no reason we can’t turn the result around.”
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