Manchester Thunder continued their unbeaten start to the Vitality Netball Superleague season with an 18-point victory over Surrey Storm.
Round 4, at Surrey Sports Park, saw the 2019 Champions extend their run of victories to five. by 60 points to 42, on a day when little other sport was taking place across the country with the Coronavirus shutdown taking hold.
The game started goal for goal as the teams worked each other out. Under immense physical pressure Joyce Mvula and Eleanor Cardwell stood strong as they helped build a six goal lead by the first break – 10-16.
The Thunder defence of Emma Dovey and Lauren Ngwira were clearly assigned to put pressure on 6ft 4 shooter Karyn Bailey but Storm goal attack Sophie Hankin stepped up and was having success from distance. Recognised, this was snuffed out and Hankin was subsequently replaced by Ellie Kelk.
At the other end it was like watching WWE wrestling at times with a physical battle and big hits between Mvula, Cardwell, Hughes and Middleton. The black and yellows were winning the battle and went into the changing rooms 13 goals up and probably with a few bruises.
At half time head coach Karen Greig brought on Kathryn Turner at goal attack and introduced Ash Neal at wing attack. They had an immediate impact and Thunder stretched their lead out to 17, however, Storm did not stop fighting and pulled back toward the end of the third quarter, only losing the quarter by one. Player/coach Mikki Austin took herself off and gave herself chance to look at the game from the bench before making her next move. Thunder led by 14 33-47 at the final break.
Greig gave Rebekah Airey her first taste of the game for the final quarter while Malcolm came back on this time at wing defence and Carter moving up to centre replacing the hard-working Caroline O’Hanlon. Austin tried in vain to change her line up to impact the game but Thunder were just too strong plus Middleton had to be sacrificed after being warned for persistent contact.
There’s still plenty to come from Thunder this season and if they can improve their consistency they will be very difficult to beat. It was a convincing 18 goal victory 42-60 but it could have been more.
Head Coach Karen Greig said:
It was good to get the win against a feisty Storm side – they pushed us the full 60 minutes.
“It was good to get all 10 players out on court and they gave a good account of themselves, withstanding pressure throughout.
“We still showed some inconsistency at times with areas still to improve on. Hopefully we will get the chance to do that over the coming weeks.”
Surrey Storm 42, Manchester Thunder 60.
Player of the Match: Emma Dovey
- GS MVULA
- GA CARDWELL
- WA MALCOLM
- C O’HANLON
- WD CARTER
- GD DOVEY
- GK NGWIRA
- GS BAILEY
- GA HANKIN
- WA PARSONS
- C AUSTIN
- WD COOPER
- GD HUGHES
- GK MIDDLETON