Thunder Rumble into Phase Two Silencing Jets
The #loudestcrowdinsuperleague all packed in to The Thunderdome for what was expected to be an exciting first game of Phase 2, The Challenger League against local rivals Yorkshire Jets. With each side finishing 5th and 6th they are the favourites to battle it out to get into the finals yet with both teams having some unexpected injuries it was going to be uncertain on each side’s starting seven and the end result.
Thunder have been rather split over the Easter break with two of the 'big timers' Laura Malcolm and Emma Dovey heading to Jamaica with England and four other squad members heading to Australia with England U21. A huge positive in Thunder camp is the return of the Kerry Almond who will most definitely be looking forward to getting out in front of her home crowd.
The first centre pass went to Jets who following some passing and working of the ball got the first goal of the game but Turner responded instantly with a confident long ranger. Jets immediately showed how much they wanted the win forcing a held ball for Thunder’s first centre pass. It was not a cool start for either side with mountains of turnovers and wasted passes. Jets pressed on while Thunder continued to find their feet. Thunder were not as confident starting as in previous games struggling to find the space in the circle and the normally calm and consistent shooters not quite finding their aim in the early minutes.
It was Captain Emma Dovey who took hold of the reigns finding some magic touches on the ball to put her team back in front of the feisty Jets squad. It was not a lead that would last as Jets continued to claw back capitalising on Thunder’s errors. At the end of the quarter Jets managed to keep the damage to just one goal deficit 11-10.
Heading into the second quarter, Thunder really needed to demonstrate some more dominance and take hold of the game; with a lot of unforced errors from both sides it was still too soon to call it. Coach Neville must have had some words with her squad as Thunder came out fighting taking a two goal lead early on and much more positive work on all areas of the court. It was again short lived as Jets continued a comeback with goals in quick concession from Walker who was looking confident against Kerry Almond and her giant stretch. At the other end Turner and Enziano had occasional moments of sparkle with intricate passing between them in the circle eventually collating a four goal lead. Kerry Almond was easing back in to her brilliant form with some trademark interceptions. The second quarter was much more confident from both sides with less unforced errors but still too close to pick a winner and the quarter finished 22-19.
It would have been very interesting to be a fly on the wall in the changing rooms at the half time interval as both teams were failing to play at their potential.
Thunder made a change in the third quarter bringing young Alice Travis on at GS, while Jets took Natalie Haythornthwaite off and brought Alex Kirk to GA. The goals were flying in from both sides that finally looked more settled but it was Thunder who gained the bumper leading 26-22 early on the third.
Manchester Thunder surely had started to gain turnovers and were capitalising with some brilliant moves under the circle from Alice Travis much to enjoyment of the crowd. With five minutes to go in the third, Thunder had extended their lead 34-25. At the end of the third quarter Thunder were finally starting to look like the team from earlier in the season, confident and consistent. 37-26 was a much happier score line for the Thunder Bench.
In the final quarter, Neville kept it the same with Travis and Turner working well together, while Anna Carter brought on Rachel Shaw to GA to battle against England team mate Emma Dovey. Thunder kept hold of the lead still looking confident as Almond and Dovey continued to reseal their defensive bond. It looked a little too late for Jets to get their come back as Thunder continued to put the score line up. Rachel Shaw was really fighting in the circle for Jets but with both shooters struggling to convert it allowed Thunder to further creep up the lead. Thunder looked to have the game in their back pocket as Neville made a change at injury time out with Helen Housby coming to GA and Eleanor Cardwell to WD. The Game ended well for Thunder bringing the ball up court confidently with the shooters really moving well together to create lots of space for some great goals!
It was a game that took some time to settle and improved as the quarters went on with Thunder putting their foot on the accelerator in the third to push Jets back and really take control and pulling out a comfortable final score of 48-32.
Starting 7: Krista Enziano, Kathryn Turner, Rachel Henry, Laura Malcolm, Beth Cobden, Emma Dovey, Kerry Almond.
Bench, Eleanor Cardwell, Sam Holt, Alice Travis, Helen Housby, Georgie Webster.
Thunder are at home again next Saturday against Loughborough Lightning. This includes a 'two quid for a kid' promotion for the first 50 to buy https://www.ticketline.co.uk/order/tickets/13281769/manchester-thunder-v-loughborough-lightning-manchester-thunderdome-2013-04-20-13-30-00