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Early nerves cost us says Manchester Thunder’s Greig

Credit: Ben Lumley

Manchester Thunder coach Karen Greig believes early nerves impacted her side as they lost the Netball Super League Grand Final 70-54 to Loughborough Lightning.

Lightning built a quick lead in the showpiece at the Resorts World Arena which Thunder did reel in in the second quarter.

But the defending champions still had firepower in reserve and were able to close out a comfortable win to continue Thunder’s wait for a fifth title.

“We started off nervously and once you start with nerves it is then hard to pull it back,” Greig, who coached Thunder to two of their four Grand Final wins.

“But we did recover quite well, we managed to pull it back and we were level at one point in the game.

“I think there were just some naive errors that we put in there and when you lose ball against Loughborough when they are so good in possession it is hard to win ball back and they just punish you.

“We were unable to get a hold on the game even though we were playing great netball at times.

“We’ve thrown everything at it we didn’t leave a stone unturned we just didn’t get the performance today.”

Greig made a change to her starting seven with only nine minutes on the clock after Loughborough established a seven-goal lead.

Paige Reed made way for Elmere van der Berg who had a quick impact as Thunder built into the game.

She added: “We need to win ball so it was at that point we know these combinations work for us and we know these girls can do a job.

“Sometimes it is just throwing in something fresh where they can show how hungry they are it can just upset the opposition but it didn’t quite work that way for us.

“It was really hard to get the ball off them and overall when we were in possession we weren’t too bad there was some really great netball but we just didn’t win enough ball.”

With the gap standing at six points as the two sides came out for the third quarter, Loughborough Lightning made pressure pay.

Their shooters in Mary Cholhok and Rhea Dixon show how much they have learnt in their second season together with Alice Harvey impressing as the new defensive leader.

Meanwhile, it was the relative inexperience of Lois Pearson and Paige Reed that stifled Thunder’s usually free-flowing attack.

Another halt to Thunder’s challenge came when Ella Bowen was taken off for a head injury assessment with Nat Panagarry serving a two-minute suspension that saw the game slowed down and the life taken out of Thunder’s last push.

For the ever-studious Greig, thoughts already turn to next season and having turned last year’s third place into second this time, it is about doing the same again in 2025.

“Overall we have had a great season, we were league winners with one loss and to me, that shows a great consistency over the year,” she said.

“We will definitely take those positives that we were able to become league winners but we need to make sure we go one step further again next year.”

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