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Manchester Thunder

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Loughborough Lightning

Match Details

5th June 2022
Final
Copper Box Arena
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Match Results

Watch On: Broadcaster Logo

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First Centre Pass

Natalie Panagarry
Natalie Panagarry Loughborough Lightning View profile

Team Stats

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Performance Stats

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Performance Stats

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Thunder crowned Vitality Netball Superleague champions

Thunder claimed their first title since 2019. Image: Ben Lumley

Manchester Thunder were crowned 2022 Vitality Netball Superleague champions as they beat Loughborough Lightning 60-53 to complete an unbeaten season.

Thunder blitzed their opponents to lead 20-8 at the end of the first quarter and held off a late Lightning comeback to win their first title since 2019.

Lightning recovered from a bruising first-quarter to go goal for goal with their opponents for the rest of the match, but the defending champions were simply unable to keep up with a Thunder side firing on all cylinders.

The opening exchanges showed a sign of things to come as Thunder raced into a 6-2 lead, the attacking duo of Joyce Mvula and Eleanor Cardwell electric in their movement and pinpoint with their shooting.

The frenetic atmosphere in the Copper Box was then dampened as Lightning goal attack went down injured, leaving the court in a wheelchair to rapturous applause from all fans.

The game resumed at breakneck speed as Thunder continued to add to their tally, with the trio of Mvula, Cardwell, and Nat Metcalf simply irresistible at times in attack to take the score out to 11-3.

Lightning worked hard to stay in touch with their opponents, goal shooter Mary Cholhok consistently scoring when the chances presented themselves.

However, Vic Burgess’ side found it difficult to reach their domineering forward thanks to the stern defensive efforts of Millie Sanders, Kerry Almond, and Laura Malcolm.

The defending champions were able to stay within seven or eight until the final minutes of the quarter, before a late flurry saw Thunder end the first 15 with a 12-point advantage.

The second quarter started at the same frantic pace as the first as Lightning looked to find a foothold in the final.

Cholhok continued to exhibit a masterclass in shooting to keep Lightning in touch as the two sides went goal for goal in a more even second period.

With Lightning looking to close in, Thunder once more produced a late run of scores to go into the break 36-22 ahead, goal attack Cardwell demonstrating her ability to score from almost anywhere in the circle.

If anyone thought Lightning were going down without a fight they were mistaken, with the team in purple displaying a new vigour after the restart.

Suddenly, balls were breaking for them and the defensive unit of Alice Harvey and Fran Williams were winning interceptions.

Soon it began to have an impact on the scoreboard too, as Cholhok and Emma Thacker began to find the goal with increased regularity.

The crowd were getting behind a rejuvenated Lightning as the deficit was reduced to eight midway through the third quarter as midcourters Nat Panagarry and Hannah Joseph began to see more ball.

Yet Thunder remained able to keep Lightning at arm’s length as the defending champions looked to produce the most dramatic of comebacks, needing a ten-goal swing in the final quarter as the sides went in 46-37.

While the Copper Box reached fever pitch as time ticked away in the fourth quarter, Mvula remained the coolest person in the building to keep her side ahead as Lightning through everything at the Thunder rear guard.

Lightning weren't done yet, and produced one final push to suddenly close the game to just six goals through Cholhok's flawless shooting, but it was a case of too little too late as Cardwell sealed the title with a final goal to complete a perfect season and seal the crown.

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