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Nat Metcalf

Image: Ben Lumley

Manchester Thunder captain Nat Metcalf hailed her side’s response to missing out on the Netball Super League Grand Final, as they claimed third place with a 55-38 win over Surrey Storm.

Thunder dominated throughout and proved clinical in the circle through Lenize Potgieter who netted 42 times over the four quarters, while defender Emma Dovey, who only stepped into the injury-stricken squad in April, was awarded Player of the Match.

The 2022 champions missed out on the chance to defend their title after a 65-59 semi-final defeat to Loughborough Lightning on Friday, but Metcalf revealed her pride in the way her side bounced back to finish the season strongly.

“We wanted to be in that final, that’s what we set out to do,” she said. “Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, but we named today as our final and that’s how we wanted to play it.

“It was disappointing for us to not make it but today was all about getting that win and we said we’re not coming away without being on that podium.”

“It was about how we attacked today, stepped into that challenge and enjoyed it.

“You’ve got to enjoy it. It’s a semi-final, it’s going to feel a little bit different but how you feel on that day is absolutely fine, it’s just about being all together and soaking in the moment and it’s such hard work to get to a final four so relish to opportunity, you might never get there again.

“The netball today was so much more about the off-court stuff, in the pre-season, off-season for the coaches and the fans and pulling together to get that win.”

Thunder’s season has not been without its adversities, with the relatively new squad suffering a number of injuries after a partial summer rebuild following a number of high-profile departures.

Eleanor Cardwell, Laura Malcom, and Joyce Mvula all departed for Australia and New Zealand, while key players such as Shadine van der Merwe have been blighted by injury.

But Thunder were nevertheless able to clinch a play-off place and head coach Karen Greig said her side’s achievements are a testament to the culture at the club.

She said: “It has been tough and at times we had wobbles, back in April where everyone was picking up injuries, everyone was knackered and we were like ‘can we just go on holiday?’.

“Sometimes as a coach, it can be quite a lonely place but as a club, everyone is so supportive.

“With the leadership group and the group of girls that we’ve got, everyone just really had to be there for each other and that’s what’s got us through.”

And the Thunder stalwart, who has won Super League titles as both player and coach with the franchise, is determined to rebuild for next season and win back the title their won undefeated in 2022.

“We want to soak up this moment,” she added. “We want to be proud of what we’ve achieved this year.

“The next few weeks are going to be crucial as we look forward in the recruitment window.

“That’s always not a nice time of year – it’s busy and difficult decisions have to be made.”

The Netball Super League is the UK’s elite domestic netball competition and features ten teams from England, Wales and Scotland. For more information visit netballsl.com

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