Round 1 – Severn Stars 47-48 Manchester Thunder
Manchester Thunder snatched a dramatic, last-gasp win in their season opener. The home side had led from the first whistle in front of a record number of fans at the University of Worcester Arena and at the half-way point were in front by 10 points. But Thunder managed to close the gap and as the clock counted down Severn Stars succumbed to a 47-48 defeat.
Round 2 – Manchester Thunder 60-43 UWS Sirens
UWS Sirens were dogged and determined as they produced some special phases of play to keep in touch in the first quarter. Manchester Thunder maintained a high-tempo strategy and pounced on any loose balls. The game ultimately petered out with Thunder given the luxury of using all 12 players as they sealed the win.
Round 3 – Manchester Thunder 53-46 Team Northumbria
Manchester Thunder left it late but it was a scintillating performance in the end to steal the victory. A dominant first quarter from Thunder gave them a convincing lead which they managed to hold throughout the match, despite dropping a gear in the second and third quarters.
Round 4 – Loughborough Lightning 55-56 Manchester Thunder
Manchester Thunder ruined Loughborough Lightning’s perfect start to the season. Thunder didn’t start well and fell six goals down in the opening quarter, but they gradually found their rhythm and chipped away at Lightning’s lead. After trailing for most of the first half, Thunder forced the advantage in the third and didn’t look back, snuffing out any chance of a comeback for Lightning.
Round 5 – Manchester Thunder 68-48 Celtic Dragons
Celtic Dragons, buoyed by their loud and proud away support, enjoyed some good periods of play as they challenged Manchester Thunder right up until the final whistle. But the Black and Yellows were simply ruthless and slick in patches as they took the win.
Round 6 – Team Bath Netball 51-60 Manchester Thunder
An inspired Manchester Thunder saw-off Team Bath. From the outset Thunder were intense and clinical, especially in attack, and were not fazed by coming up against one of the best defences in the league. Team Bath Netball battled hard and enjoyed periods of dominance but they had no answer to Thunder’s fluidity and pressure, most notably in the second half.
Round 7 – Manchester Thunder 49-52 benecosMavericks
Manchester Thunder slumped to a loss at the Thunderdome. It was the first defeat of the season for the Black and Yellows, but a deserved win for the visitors, who punished Thunder’s inability to take advantage of any momentum they managed to force.
Round 8 – Manchester Thunder 62-57 Surrey Storm
It was a scrappy start to the game, with neither team really taking the initiative. The sides traded the lead, but it was Surrey Storm who finished the first period in control, edging into a mini lead. A second half surge from Thunder though helped them build a six-goal lead in the third quarter and Storm were unable to pull it back.
Round 9 – Wasps Netball 64-60 Manchester Thunder
Wasps Netball secured a dramatic win to maintain their perfect record. The league leaders faced their toughest challenge of the season so far as the visitors were within one goal until the final minute but a flurry of late goals pushed the black-and-gold advantage to four.
Round 10 – UWS Sirens 42-64 Manchester Thunder
UWS Sirens held-off Manchester Thunder for long periods – they were brilliant in pockets, especially in attack, with Shantal Slater bringing the flair. Sirens stayed in touch, with only a four goal gap to bridge (24-28) at half time, but their resistance faded as the game wore on and Thunder eventually ran out comfortable winners.
Round 11 – Manchester Thunder 56-62 Loughborough Lightning
Manchester Thunder slipped to a disappointing defeat at Belle Vue. It was a frustrating performance from Thunder, who were out-thought by Lightning in key moments and wasted turnover opportunities in the rare occasions they came.
Round 12 – Team Northumbria 51-58 Manchester Thunder
Manchester Thunder escaped a scare, calling on what little was left in the tank in the closing minutes to see out the win, after a stubborn Team Northumbria refused to give up. Thunder’s experience under pressure told, notably from a wonderful Skingsley intercept as snatched the ball out of the air to give Thunder the catalyst to force an unassailable lead.
Round 13 – Manchester Thunder 55-49 Severn Stars
It was a scorching hot evening in Manchester but it was a slow burner on court as Thunder put in a professional performance against Severn Stars. It was composed and controlled from the Black and Yellows but Stars were a real test, and asked questions of them in all areas of the court, but Thunder did enough to win in front of a sold out home crowd.
Round 14 – Celtic Dragons 38-78 Manchester Thunder
Manchester Thunder flew out the traps with five unanswered goals to stun Celtic Dragons, who lacked fluency. With the game seemingly gone after the half-time interval, it was time for Dragons to restore pride to their performance and the third quarter saw a marked improvement with a tighter quarter score.
Round 15 – Manchester Thunder 53-42 Wasps Netball
Manchester Thunder stormed to victory over defending champions Wasps at the Manchester Arena. Thunder took the win after an energy-sapping four quarters of intense netball to inflict a second defeat in a row on Wasps. The Black and Yellows were strong across court, but Malawian shooter Joyce Mvula was particularly impressive, and was deservedly named player of the match.
Round 16 – benecosMavericks 47-52 Manchester Thunder
Manchester Thunder held off several comebacks from their hosts to return home with the points in the bag. Thunder Head Coach Karen Greig said: “Our full-court defensive effort was fantastic again, but we just didn’t reward ourselves as much as we would have liked. We were put under immense pressure at times but we maintained our composure at key points which saw us take the win.”
Round 17 – Surrey Storm 46-70 Manchester Thunder
Both sides looked sharp from the offset, Manchester Thunder making the most of their possessions to take a 12-21 lead after the opening quarter. It was in the penultimate quarter where the match was truly put to bed – ruthless attacking and unyielding defence left Storm chasing the game.
Round 18 – Manchester Thunder 54-47 Team Bath Netball
Manchester Thunder ground out an important win over Team Bath at a colourful Thunderdome. It was a game that had a bit of every shade, from red-hot swift attacking play to resolute defensive work and purple patches for both teams. Bath gave as good as they got, continuously coming back every time Thunder threatened to extend their lead.
Semi-Final – Loughborough Lightning 59-50 Manchester Thunder
Manchester Thunder fell just short of a place in the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final. The Black and Yellows were gutsy and determined but Lightning weathered anything their visitors could throw at them. It was a pulsating semi-final, with Lightning repeatedly threatening to pull away but Thunder refused to let them get out of sight, defending doggedly and scoring difficult chances.
Kerry Almond, Danielle Bloomfield, Amy Carter, Amy Clinton, Taylor Cullen, Emma Dovey, Rebecca Hoult, Liana Leota, Sophie Morgan, Joyce Mvula, Caroline O’Hanlon, Ally Thomas, Kathryn Turner, Abby Tyrrell, Bea Skingsley.
British Fast5 All-Stars Championship
Manchester Thunder will take part in the 2018 edition of the British Fast5 All-Stars Championship on Saturday 13th October from 1-6pm.
The Black and Yellows will be out to make at least the semi-finals this time around after two defeats (Manchester Thunder 31-42 Loughborough Lightning and Manchester Thunder 9-24 Severn Stars) in the 2017 edition.