Manchester Thunder have all-but qualified for the Superleague Final Four with a 14-goal win over Hertfordshire Mavericks.
Barring remarkable results in other games, Thunder will join already-qualified Loughborough Lightning and Wasps for the play-offs weekend in Manchester. Either Team Bath or Surrey are the sides most likely to take the final spot.
It was a complete performance from Thunder, who were efficient and played at a high tempo in attack, as their experience and composure in defence showed against a stubborn Mavericks side.
“We bounced back well from Monday (defeat to Wasps) and put in a solid four quarters. The team came together as a real unit tonight and our performance spoke for itself.
“The communication on court pleased me the most today as the players connected from back to front. We turned over ball and consolidated. We also didn’t let them get a run on us at any point.”
Greig handed Dani Bloomfield her first start of the season after being impressed by her in training.
Thunder produced one of their best starts of the season to bamboozle Mavericks with an intense game from the first whistle. Lead by a once again instrumental Liana Leota, Thunder’s attack was a different beast to the one which struggled to find rhythm last time out against Wasps.
Thunder were also having considerable success in defence, as long-standing partnership of Emma Dovey and Kerry Almond displayed all of their experience to frustrate Mavericks.
Thunder lead by 11 at one point in the first half but a period of blistering play at the end of the second quarter brought Mavericks – and the crowd- to life and they closed the gap to six, to trail 26-34 to their visitors at half time.
Bea Skingsley came on in place of Dani Bloomfield for the second half as Thunder continued their momentum from before the break.
Skingsley slotted straight into the game, patrolling Mavericks’ attacking D as Thunder continued to keep their hosts at bay.
Consolidating turnovers has been a problem for Thunder all season, but they had no such trouble in this Round 16 game, as they protected the ball through court, which elevated the pressure on the shooters.
Greig made her final change by introducing Sophie Morgan at centre, as Gabriella Marshall took a well-earned break on the bench.
Morgan’s pace was a fresh test for Mavericks, who were starting to have pockets of success in defence, with sterling work by Rosie Morgan – Smith driving them.
Thunder closed out the game like they had started it; by marking tight and being creative in attack.
The win left the Black and Yellows on the verge of securing a coveted spot in the Final Four and the chance to play for the title they last won in 2014.