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Thunder win bronze with powerful victory over Storm

Manchester Thunder ended their season on a high with a third-place finish in the Netball Super League after a convincing 55-38 win over Surrey Storm.

The third-place decider was a ferocious encounter but the cool-headedness of Nat Metcalf and Lenize Potgieter safely steered Thunder to victory.

Karen Greig’s side ran away with the game in the third quarter in front of a packed-out Copper Box Arena.

But Mikki Austin’s squad held their heads high as they secured their best finish since they last won the competition in 2016.

Thunder got off to a shaky start from their first centre pass as Sophie Drakeford-Lewis drew first blood for Storm.

But Greig’s side quickly found their rhythm through Amy Carter and Nat Metcalf who worked fluidly around the circle.

It may have been a battle for third, but the physical duels in mid-court between Austin and Amy Carter were enough to make the Copper Box think this was another final.

With a perfect shooting record in the first quarter, Potgieter netted 14 times to give Thunder a six-goal cushion.

Storm blazed into the second quarter, converting two turnovers in quick succession as Hannah Knights and Layla Guscoth flexed their experience in defence.

But Austin’s side fell foul of unforced errors in the tussle, making ten in the opening half compared to Thunder’s six.

And the ferocity of the game continued as Amy Flanagan was muscled into the circle by Metcalf, only to be given offside against her.

Drakeford-Lewis was all over the court, scoring from her own intercept in the middle as Storm clawed back a couple from the deficit, making the scores 26-22 by the end of the opening half.

Metcalf moved into goal attack for the third quarter and proved nimble in the circle, making even more space for Potgieter to add to her tally, who enjoyed a 100% record for much of the tie.

Thunder found another gear as Storm failed to make use of precious penalties in the goal third, as Thunder racked up a 16-goal lead going into the final quarter.

Having taken a view from the bench for the third quarter, player-coach Austin returned to the fold in the last ten minutes but could do nothing to overturn the deficit.

Thunder emptied their bench in the final quarter and remained strong as Ella Bowen followed Player of the Match’s Emma Dovey’s lead at goal defence.

Last year’s champions closed out the final quarter of their Super League campaign professionally to add a bronze medal to their bulging trophy cabinet.

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