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Thunder take back top spot

Manchester Thunder have taken back the top spot in the Vitality Netball Superleague after a 65-51 win over Team Northumbria.

Dan Ryan handed young shooter Amy Clinton her Thunder debut as the Manchester side made their way back to the top of the table.

Read the Thunder match report below:

Manchester Thunder clinched a deserved win over Team Northumbria in Newcastle in round eight of the Vitality Netball Superleague.

Despite a poor third quarter, the Black and Yellows dominated for large periods of the game and ran out 51-65 winners.

With an unassailable lead secured in the fourth, coach Dan Ryan opted to hand 18-year-old shooter Amy Clinton her Superleague debut.

The Oldham star is the second player in a week to be handed her first chance in the Thunder dress, following wing attack Beccy Hoult’s bow against Jets last time out.

Thunder started at a blistering pace and powered into an early five-goal lead, bringing some impressive fluidity to their attacking play, showing their intent from the outset.

Eleanor Cardwell was once again relishing her time on court and looked assured and confident in the circle, nailing some difficult shots and refusing to be bullied off the ball by an organised Team Northumbria defence.

The Tameside shooter linked up well with Natalie Haythornthwaite who showed her range of passing and utilised her speed and movement through court to flummox Northumbria.

It was a game littered with patches of scrappy play, which lead to several umpire cautions handed to players from both sides.

However this wasn’t a true reflection of the game, as Thunder have withstood far more physical challenges in other Superleague fixtures this season.

That said, TN were no push over and gave themselves a real chance of snatching victory in the third quarter when they pulled the scores back to within four, after the goal cushion had gone up to double figures.

Their Jamaican imports Shanice Beckford and Nicole Dixon, dictated play and were a real handful for Thunder’s defence.

It was an interesting dual between the opposing Sunshine Girls in Thunder’s Mally Kelly and Beckford, especially. 

England duo Sara Bayman and Laura Malcolm were assured in front of the defence and Housby, who drifted in and out of the game and sat out the third quarter, was more than adequate support for in-form Cardwell.

Thunder were in no mood to suffer a repeat of the nervy finale in their previous match against Yorkshire Jets, and stretched their lead in the final quarter.

They were coasting and it enabled teenager Clinton to take to court and make her Superleague debut.