A solid performance from Manchester Thunder who now sit back on top of the Vitality Netball Superleague after beating Strathclyde Sirens in Glasgow.
Thunder got off to a flying start and it was clear from the outset that it was going to be a tough ask for Glasgow-based Strathclyde Sirens to overcome the Black and Yellows.
Thunder established an early lead and managed to stretch it to ten goals at one point in the first quarter with star shooter Joyce Mvula shooting at 100%, bagging herself an impressive 14 of the 19 goals scored in the opening 15 minutes.
Sirens struggled to find their form and some poor shooting left ample opportunity for defenders Emma Dovey and Kerry Almond to punish their mistakes. Thunder lacked pace at times but they had no problems in sending the ball to the other end of court, Mvula and Kathryn Turner only too happy to reward the efforts.
Thunder finished the first quarter nine goals to the good, an early lead which Sirens struggled to chase for the remainder of the match.
The second quarter saw much of the same, Thunder displayed snippets of brilliance as Dovey and Laura Malcolm were able to push up the court and create space and opportunity for the attackers.
Sirens looked unsettled and Thunder were taking advantage of every mistake they made. But as the first half drew to a close the game began to get physical and Sirens forced the errors from Thunder.
The Black and Yellows took a 15 goal lead into half time, despite the fact that they seemed to have plenty left in the locker. With the league so tight, it was the perfect chance to rack up some goals and cement their position at the top of the table.
The second half saw Head Coach Karen Greig ring in the changes and use Thunder’s advantage to try out some new combinations on court.
Eleanor Cardwell enjoyed a stint at GS as Rebekah Airey replaced Almond at the other end. Amy Carter, who had an impressive performance against Wasps last week, made way for Caroline O’Hanlon at C.
Thunder blew out a 20 goal lead at one stage in the third quarter as Cardwell shot well under the post, controlling the circle well with the help of O’Hanlon and Player of the Match Liana Leota.
A few errors from Thunder at the end of the quarter saw Sirens scramble a flurry of goals but the 18 goal lead had become a mountain to climb for the Scottish side.
As the final 15 minutes rolled around it felt like Thunder had barely got out of third gear, not the Black and Yellow’s best performance, but the sign of a winning team.
Thunder perhaps would have liked to push a little bit harder in the closing stages of the game, but Greig saw the match as the ideal opportunity to showcase the talent on her bench.
Paige Kindred played a spell at GD, a chance for Captain Emma Dovey to rest. Ally Thomas made her Superleague debut at GA and made an impression, grabbing herself a couple of goals.
Thunder showed their strength in depth, managing to get all 12 players out on court. They were tenacious and, although not on their best form, it was almost a warning to the rest of the top four. To win so comfortably, but without the intensity that we have seen at other stages in the season.
Their next home game is against Celtic Dragons on Saturday 6th April, grab your tickets here >> http://bit.ly/thuvcd
Manchester Thunder: Mvula, Turner, Leota, Carter, Malcolm, Dovey, Almond
Strathclyde Sirens: Goodwin, Gallagher, McCleary, Abernethy, Maxwell, Nicholl, Gibbons
Player of the Match: Liana Leota (Chosen by Sky)
Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!