The Thunder rumbled and the Sirens came but the home side managed to silence the noise and take a much-needed victory in front of a vocal sold-out crowd. Thunder came out of the blocks at break-neck speed, firing themselves into a healthy early lead, but the game evened out in the second quarter. The second half was a topsy turvy contest but moments of brilliance and an ability to gain momentum at keys times, ultimately won Thunder the game 53 to 49.
Thunder captain Emma Dovey said: “It’s great to get the first win. The first two games didn’t go how we wanted but we’re really happy with that win. The fans lifted us and were our eighth player. We’d looked at our fourth quarters, which had been letting us down. We addressed that today and had – almost – four consistent quarters.”
Thunder started with real intent, rocketing into a four-goal lead in the opening exchanges. There were some real slick passages of play in the first half, especially from Player of the Match Gabriella Marshall, who used a number of inventive feeds into her waiting shooters. Thunder were also having pockets of luck in defence, frustrating Sirens with tight marking and several timely aerial interceptions. It was was a physical encounter throughout, with players hitting the deck at regular intervals Sirens goal attack Borrego dramatically fell through the hoardings at one point. But we saw an awakened Sirens side in the second half, as they scored five on the bounce, with Thunder seemingly still in the changing rooms.
However, Thunder’s centre court trio of Bea Skingsley, Marshall and Beccy Hoult swiftly saw an end to Sirens’ momentum and whipped up some rhythm of their own, with Thunder taking the initiative midway through the third quarter. They pushed on and finished the period strongly, with ever-reliable goal attack Kathryn Turner settling some tension with a succession of difficult attempts.
Staying focused in the fourth quarter had proven a problem for Thunder in the opening two games of the season, but they kept their composure tonight and were buoyed by superb defensive combination work between Skinglsey and Dovey. The duo each produced timely intercepts to snuff out any notion of a Sirens comeback. Despite coming within one goal of the Black and Yellows, Sirens were unable to level things up and Thunder pushed on in the closing phases to take a well-earned win.
Thunder starting vs Sirens: GK Almond, GD Dovey, WD Skingsley, C Marshall, WA Hoult, GA Turner GS Mvula
Report by Denise Evans