Thunder fly past Jets to face Mavericks
Manchester Thunder had to avoid losing by 72 goals to win The Challenger League and ensure their qualification for play-offs. But winning was the only thing on Thunder’s mind, not just for bragging rights but they wanted this win for their team mate Laura Malcolm. Laura was not playing on compassionate grounds, attending the funeral of her father who passed away suddenly a couple of weeks earlier. The players sported black armbands in paying their respects to Marcus Malcolm, while the staff wore yellow roses.
The game began in the typical style of a local derby going goal for goal and including some physical exchanges. Janelle Lawson, starting her first game since the Surrey Storm game in Phase one, was given a torrid time in the circle, while the scoring was going goal for goal. A great intercept from in-form wing attack Rachel Henry, turned the tide at the end of the quarter for Thunder to edge into the lead 14-12.
In the second quarter Thunder, led by captain Sara Bayman, were clearly not going to be bullied off the court leading to several tasty exchanges. As the quarter progressed Thunder started to find some form with Bayman and Lawson shaking off the rustiness from several weeks out of action. At the half time break, and Thunder gaining in confidence with every move they finished nine goals to the good, 31-22.
Coach Tracey Neville had to make changes at the interval with Bayman and Lawson being brought back gently, Beth Cobden moved to centre while Ellie Cardwell took over at the wing defence position. Alice Travis replaced Lawson at goal shooter. Jets made their own changes with Rachel Shaw moving to her more familiar position of goal attack replacing Alex Kirk. Thunder had their tails up, defenders Kerry Almond and Emma Dovey were getting on top of the Jets attack, while Cobden and Henry combined well to feed Travis and Turner. By the end of the third quarter Thunder had extended their lead to 47-34 and were starting to look comfortable.
For the final quarter Neville gave some valuable game time to the youngsters in her squad, Helen Housby came on at goal attack, while Cardwell move back to goal keeper and Georgie Webster came into the wing defence position
They started well and certainly held their own, Jets had a last attempt at a fight-back but it was too little too late as Thunder took the game 62-47 and this took them through to play-offs to face Hertfordshire Mavericks at the University of Hertfordshire next Thursday.
It certainly should be an interesting play-off as there was only one goal between the teams the last time they played with Mavericks coming out on top at The Thunderdome. With everything to play for it’s anyone’s game, watch it live on Sky Sports 7.30pm Thursday 16th May.
Starting 7: GS Lawson GA Turner WA Henry C Bayman WD Cobden GD Dovey GK Almond
Bench: Cardwell, Holt, Housby, Travis, Webster