Manchester Thunder are clinging on to the top spot in the Vitality Netball Superleague after a convincing victory over Team Bath on Saturday.
The 2014 champions took a surprising 18-goal victory in a match that was anticipated to be too close to call.
Read the Thunder match report below:
Manchester Thunder powered to an 18-goal victory over Team Bath at the Thunderdome, 69-51.
Thunder blasted out of the blocks from the first centre pass and produced impressive attacking flair that their title rivals just couldn’t match
It was an especially encouraging display for coach Dan Ryan, who had seen his side off-colour and lacking fluidity for the previous three Superleague games.
This match echoed the corresponding fixture in Somerset, with Thunder relentless across the court.
Post-match Ryan revealed it was going back to basics that helped his side regain their form.
“We were so desperate as a group to put in a performance we knew we were capable of as we have been very up and down with our form,” he said.
“We did the basics really well today and that was the difference in the end.
“We try to be forward-thinking in our coaching and I like to think of ways to be creative and surprise the opposition and that worked today.
“We’ve been concentrating on being better with our turnover ball as we’ve been creating a lot of opportunities but not made the most of them to take control of matches.
“Today we were right on the money and the intensity and purpose was sensational.”
Shooter Eleanor Cardwell was named player of the match after putting in another strong and mature performance, which was even more impressive considering she was up against against England defensive duo Sam Cook and Eboni Beckford-Chambers.
“Ellie is just going to get better and better and she has worked so hard all season so it’s great to see her go out there and take her opportunities,” Ryan added.
The Black and Yellows enjoyed a dominant first quarter, opening up a four-goal lead in the initial three minutes.
Bath looked shell-shocked as they headed into the quarter-time break, as Thunder’s relentless pressing – and ability to execute their game plan bamboozled them.
The pre-season favourites improved in the second period but Thunder were in no mood to let their lead slip.
Their play was orchestrated by captain Sara Bayman for the full 60 minutes, as they cleverly switched between patient build-up play to producing bullet long passes into the circle for a waiting shooter under the post.
Cardwell’s movement, coupled with her shooting accuracy and ability to shrug off her defender allowed her more freedom in the circle, and she really clicked with Helen Housby at goal attack.
Nat Haythornthwaite, playing at wing attack, showed how her versatility is a real asset to the side – and how her speed is a real handful.
Thunder’s lead fluctuated throughout the match but they never looked like relinquishing it, especially with their defence just as on-song as the attack. But they still pushed on right to the final whistle in a bid to break the 70-goal barrier.
Bath are now now left looking anxiously over their shoulders with Loughborough Lightning snapping at their heels for that fourth place play-off spot.
But for Thunder, the victory will give the Vitality Netball Superleague table-toppers a timely physiological boost ahead of their next clash against second-place Hertfordshire Mavericks on April 2.
Thunder starting 7: Thunder starting v Team Bath: GK Kelly, GD Gibson, WD Malcolm, C Bayman, WA Haythornthwaite, GA Housby GS Cardwell