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Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final 2022: Manchester Thunder

Thunder finished the season unbeaten. Image: Ben Lumley

Manchester Thunder have won 20 out of 20 games this season, and know they are just two more wins away from a first Vitality Netball Superleague title since 2019.

Thunder have combined youth and experience this season to form a free-scoring machine at times but know there is still work to do to claim the crown.

Here’s everything you need to know about this season’s table-toppers:

Key Player – Eleanor Cardwell

Thunder are this season’s top scorers and goal attack Eleanor Cardwell is a big reason why.

Cardwell sits fourth in the top goal scorers list despite playing most of the season behind goal shooter Joyce Mvula and has lit up the league for Karen Greig’s side.

The 27-year-old’s 584 goals already puts her nearly 200 better off than last term with two games still to play, and her sharp shooting and link up play will be crucial for Thunder’s title hopes.

Alongside Mvula and wing attack Natalie Metcalf, Cardwell forms part of the most potent attack in the league and play-off defences will have to find a way to stop her if they want to halt Thunder.

Rising Star – Yasmin Roebuck 

It can’t be easy to break into the Manchester Thunder first team with their array of stars, but clearly no one told Yasmin Roebuck. 

The 20-year-old was called up to the first-team at the start of the season and has not looked back, appearing in every league game this year as Thunder have beaten everything in their path.

The mid-courter was even named Vitality Player of the Match in Thunder’s 73-51 win against Sirens and is surely set for an even bigger 2023.

Unsung Hero – Laura Malcolm 

Much of the focus has been on Thunder’s attack, with Karen Greig’s side having scored over 80 goals on three occasions this term, but you don’t go unbeaten without a mean defence.

At the heart of that has been the experienced Laura Malcolm, who has been one of the standout wing defences in the league this season.

Malcolm has captained her side to an incredible season and will be hoping to lift the Vitality Netball Superleague trophy on Sunday.

If she does, it will in no small part be down to her immense contribution both on and off the court.

Best Performance – Mavericks 56-59 Thunder 

Thunder may still be unbeaten but it hasn’t always been plain sailing for the team in yellow.

Their Round 5 match away at Saracens Mavericks was one such occasion when they were pushed all the way.

Mavericks kept in touch all the way throughout, going goal for goal across all four quarters but Thunder used all their knowledge and experience to edge through.

“There have been elements in each game, but Mavericks first time round was a rollercoaster of a game,” said Greig.

“We played some smart moves and some smart netball to get ourselves out of a really tight game and come out with a win.”

Key Moments – Spring Showdown 

Spring Showdown weekend was big for so many reasons, but particularly for Thunder who picked up two big wins against Strathclyde Sirens and Surrey Storm.

Thunder used a mixture of players across the two games but still came through with six points, including a first 80-goal haul of the season.

“Spring Showdown weekend was huge for us,” said Greig.

“We were managing athletes through illness and injury and the fact that we could call on our whole squad across that weekend and still put out fantastic performances and get the results was key for us.”

Who will be crowned champions? Vitality Netball Grand Final 2022 takes place at London’s Copper Box Arena this Sunday 5 June. Get your tickets here

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