Champions! Manchester Thunder victorious in Superleague grand final
Manchester Thunder won the netball Superleague crown in the final second of the game.
Star shooter Helen Housby showed incredible composure to sink the winning goal, subjecting Storm to their first loss of the season in arguably the worst possible way.
It had been a match of high drama and intensity, with both teams playing some of their best netball of the season.
Heading into the final, Tamsin Greenway's side boasted the best attack in the league and with Thunder the hardest defence to break through, it was a mouth-watering prospect.
And it certainly delivered. The first quarter was understandably cagey, with unforced errors for both sides.
Thunder began the second period with a slim one-goal lead and remained composed and patient, not shying away from passing back when a feed into the shooters was blocked-off.
Storm were growing frustrated and a series of panicked passes unsettled them but Thunder failed to take advantage.
There were moments of individual brilliance, with Storm's Rachel Dunn sneaking a cheeky pass around the post and Thunder captain Sara Bayman pulling out some outrageous twinkle-toe skill to get what looked like an impossible pass to Housby.
The tension grew tenfold in the second half but Housby remained unfazed (she only missed two shots all game) - food for thought for onlooking England coach Anna Mayes ahead of naming her Commonwealth Games squad.
Thunder's defensive duo - Kerry Almond and Emma Dovey - suffocated Storm's attack but interceptions proved illusive. Dovey was replaced by Jodie Gibson, a brave decision by coach Tracey Neville but one which was vindicated.
England's Sara Bayman lead her troops from the front, bossing the centre court, with strong support on the wings from Beth Cobden and Laura Malcolm.
Thunder turned the ball over in the dying seconds following excellent pressure from Gibson and a number of nerve-shredding passes later, the ball was in the hands of 19-year-old Housby.
And it was just destined that Thunder's stand-out player of the season was to be the hero with a stunning long-range winner.
Tracey Neville said: "I am just so proud of this group of players.
"They have won a game under incredible pressure - I have to congratulate Surrey Storm but our will to win showed we wanted it that little bit more.
"Helen Housby has been a revelation. I would never have shot that winning goal under that pressure. The whole team took their performance to another level."
Match Report by Denise Evans
Photos by Backpage images
Photos by Backpage images