Manchester Thunder secured a home semi-final with a tight 55-60 victory at Surrey Sports Park.
Surrey Storm threatened to upset the top four before the game and they almost did as Thunder looked nervous right from the start.
All Superleague matches started at the same time and there was all to play for with four teams vying for three play off places. Thunder’s attack initially looked disjointed and, along with missed shots, only nine goals were scored with Storm taking the quarter 13-9.
Cardwell came on at goal attack the end of the first quarter and changed the game for Thunder, hungry for the ball and scoring goals she drove Thunder into the lead and Thunder went into the changing rooms four goals to the good 22-28.
For the third quarter, Amy Carter replaced Caroline O’Hanlon at centre. Thunder looked like they were threatening to run away with the game but lost their flow and Storm edged their way back in. At three quarter time Storm were back in the lead 43-42 and the home semi-final was in jeopardy for the black and yellows.
The Manchester side were not giving up easily and several key turnovers from Laura Malcolm pushed Thunder on as the game went goal for goal right until the end. A quick run of goals saw Thunder see out the game 55-60.
Head coach Karen Greig commented:
“It was critical today and we knew Surrey Storm were going to come out hard, particularly being their last game of the season. We’ve seen on social media they wanted to upset the top four and they definitely made it difficult for us. Overall the girls did a good job and every single one at different times stepped up and did what they needed to do.”
“Ultimately now we get the home semi-final, and that’s crucial for us. We love playing at Wright Robinson in front of a home crowd so we hope our amazing fans turn up next week and have our backs and see us through.”