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Thunder beat Lightning in pre-season clash

Manchester Thunder launched their new season with two convincing victories over the Knights Men 85-69 and Loughborough Lightning 64-52.

The Knights Men, a team who regularly play a friendlies against Superleague and Premier League teams, offer a different dynamic of opposition and a good physical test. Thunder’s shooters Joyce Mvula and Eleanor Cardwell stood up to the test and alongside Kathryn Turner they kept the scoreboard ticking over at a good rate.

Captain Emma Dovey had a particularly feisty contest in the defensive circle and led the way for Thunder’s first victory of the day. After the game the Thunder fans flocked onto the court for a meet and greet opportunity with the players, who signed everything from netballs to t-shirts while engaging with their loyal fans.

Next in line were Loughborough Lightning, last season’s beaten finalists, but now with a new look team and former Thunder favourite Sara Bayman at the helm. Shooter Amy Clinton has also made the switch to the purple and white as a replacement for the Australia-bound Peace Proscovia.

It was a lightning start for Loughborough who stormed to an early three goal lead as it took Thunder a while to settle. It wasn’t long before Kathryn Turner’s calming influence took effect and she combined well with the impressive looking Liana Leota and Mvula to set the scoreboard ticking over. Thunder took the first quarter 15-9.

For the second quarter coach Karen Greig introduced the returning Eleanor Cardwell who was impressive with her strength and movement in the circle. Thunder debutant Amelia Hall made her bow at wing attack and looks a great acquisition for the future with a solid display. Amy Clinton made a difference for Lightning and started slotting the goals away for Lightning as they closed the gap to go in 29-25 at half time.

Another youngster and pathway product, Elia McCormick, made her debut coming on at goal defence in the third quarter. Thunder produced another good scoring quarter showing the changes were not having an impact on consistency. Thunder once again extended their lead finishing the third quarter eight goals in the lead 46-38.

The final quarter saw the debut of former Lightning defender Rebekah Airey as both teams consolidated  to take the final score to 64-52 in the favour of Thunder.

The new season will certainly present Greig with a selection headache, with competition for places all over the court, but what a problem to have. Thunder looked impressive and the foundations of combinations look incredibly strong. With record season ticket sales, it is certainly looking like Thunder fans will be in for an entertaining season of high quality netball and no doubt more fans will be snapping them up after today’s displays.

Greig commented: “It was great to get out on court for our first competitive games giving me the opportunity to see where the players are at and work on the different combinations. Thanks to both the Knights Men and Lightning for giving us tough competition on the day. It was great to be back in action in front of the noisy Thunder fans.”

Squad: Joyce Mvula, Eleanor Cardwell, Kathryn Turner, Ally Thomas, Liana Leota, Amelia Hall, Beccy Hoult, Caroline O’Hanlon, Amy Carter, Laura Malcolm, Rebekah Airey, Emma Dovey, Kerry Almond, Elia McCormick

See Manchester Thunder and Loughborough Lightning in action at Super 10 – get your squad together and head to the season opener on Saturday 5th January 2019 at Arena Birmingham!

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Sara Bayman: “We will now look ahead”

Loughborough Lightning showcased their new look team for the first time on Saturday in the first of their pre-season tournaments.

Eager to put their new combinations to the test, Lightning welcomed fellow Vitality Netball Superleague sides Team Bath and Strathclyde Sirens to Loughborough University for a tournament style fixture.

At the helm for the first time in their home venue, Head Coach Sara Bayman used each quarter as an opportunity to test combination and give all players crucial game time.

She said: “The aim of today was always to expose players, to work on combinations and to test some players out.

“I think we did that, we managed to get everyone on court, giving them some good court time and managed to get some different combinations out there and really have a look at people.”

Despite losing both their matches, Bayman cited the difference between the two matches as promising and encouraging.

She said: “I think there’s a mixed bag from today, everyone was really disappointed with our performance against Sirens and I think you saw a bit of rustiness from the girls as it’s a long time between finishing the Vitality Netball Superleague and playing again at this level.

“We had a much-improved performance against Bath and I think that’s a real indication of what we can really do moving forward.

“I think for me what was pleasing to see the reaction from game one to game two where the girls were really down after game one but that fight and spirit to come out and play really well against Bath was really pleasing.”

In the absence of Nat Panagarry due to international duties, Lightning were led by Hannah Joseph who makes up this year’s leadership group, alongside Vicki Oyesola who’s performance on the day really set the standard of what’s to come.

Bayman said: “In terms of standout performances, I think Vicki Oyesola had a fantastic day across both games and Hannah Joseph did a great job leading the team.

“Our shooting combinations are now starting to gel, they’re starting to find their way around the circle show us what they can do.”

Next weekend Lightning will travel to Manchester Thunder in their next pre-season fixture.

Drawing from the day’s events, Bayman is now planning for the forthcoming month, she said: “We will now look ahead to our away game against Thunder on Saturday which is another good test for us and another opportunity to improve and build.

“Over the next month or so it’s about every day improving and making sure we know our systems and know how we want to play and that everyone is clear and understands their role in all situations.

“It will be really nice to have Nat and Ella back from international duty and have some opportunity to get them back in the mix and enjoy working as a whole squad to build connections and build understanding.”

Tickets are now on sale for Super 10 – get your squad together and head to the season opener on Saturday 5th January 2019 at Arena Birmingham!

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Team Bath secure tri-tournament victory

Team Bath Netball made an encouraging start to their pre-season fixtures as they recorded two well-earned victories in a tri-tournament hosted by Loughborough Lightning on Saturday. All 14 players in the Blue & Gold squad got court time as they stepped up their preparations for the 2019 Vitality Superleague campaign, which begins in January.

After a minute silence on court to honour the Remembrance weekend, Lightning and Strathclyde Sirens took to the court to kick start the proceedings, all donning a black armband in respect of the fallen. A 400-strong crowd of fans eagerly joined the squads in Sir David Wallace Arena.

A fairly even start to the match saw both sides convert their centre passes levelling the scores at every opportunity. Despite an increasingly dominant defensive duo, Clinton remained calm in the shooting circle, using her long range to Lightning’s advantage to smoothly sink the shots. However, Sirens’ new addition Cat Tuivaiti was also out to impress for her new side and matched the shots, Sirens eventually pulling ahead towards the end of the quarter, finishing it 11 – 6 ahead of the home side. Whilst both sides continued to up the speed and increase the pressure, Sirens maintained a solid lead throughout the game. Lightning’s Oyesola showed no signs of slowing, changing it up a gear at each quarter to continuously disrupt Sirens flow and gain Lightning an advantage. Despite their best efforts, Sirens ended the match on top, claiming a 28 – 51 victory over the home side.

Match number two of the day saw Strathclyde Sirens take to the court just an hour later against Team Bath. With both sides boasting big names in their 2019 line-ups with the likes of Commonwealth gold medallists Serena Guthrie in the Blue and Gold and New Zealand’s Cat Tuivaiti in the black and red, fans were eager to see how the two sides matched up. A feisty start saw Sirens once again take the early lead however a ferocious Team Bath were not going to lay this match to rest, coming from behind in the second half to steal the win from the Scottish side in the final minutes of the game, final score Team Bath 39 – 33 Strathclyde Sirens.

The final match of the day saw Lightning return to court, refreshed and eager to right the wrongs from earlier in the day. With the arrival of Tuaine Keenan, Lightning’s fresh legs and determination saw them spring ahead in the opening minutes to take a 5 – 0 lead. Despite numerous changes at each quarter, lightning maintained their lead for most of the game with Hollingworth and Oyesola causing constant disruption to Baths attack whilst the smooth long bombs from Parize and Clinton saw their score line slowly creep up. Trailing by just a few points for the first 30 minutes, Team Bath made a last-minute surge in the final quarter to close the gap and level the score. However, with the on-court dominance of Bath’s international stars playing privy to lightning’s fresh feet, two goals in the dying moments of the game saw Bath take their second win of the day to secure the overall tri-tournament victory.

Team Bath face two more pre-season challenges this Saturday (November 17) as they visit champions Wasps Netball for a tri-tournament also featuring new franchise London Pulse. The Blue & Gold then have a tri-tournament of their own to look forward to on Saturday, December 15 as they play host to benecosMavericks and Surrey Storm. Doors open at 1pm and supporters will be able to enjoy three games in one action-packed afternoon at the Team Bath Arena.

Next weekend Lightning will travel to Manchester Thunder in their next pre-season fixture. Lightning fans can then catch their side in action on home soil again on Saturday 8th December as they welcome new side London Pulse and benecosMavericks to Sir David Wallace Arena for their second pre-season tri-tournament.

Tickets are now on sale for Super 10 – get your squad together and head to the season opener on Saturday 5th January 2019 at Arena Birmingham!

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British Fast5 All-Stars Championship results

Played in front of a packed Copper Box Arena, the British Fast5 All-Stars Championship featured 12-minute matches, an all-star 5-point line and a Golden Buzzer Power Play as the top eight Vitality Netball Superleague teams battled it out for their share of a £100,000 prize fund.

Wasps Netball took home the title as they beat benecosMavericks 42-32 in a captivating final game.

It was the perfect ending to an action-packed day, with MVP Rachel Dunn playing a pivotal part in Wasps’ victory and making particularly good use of the double-point power plays throughout their games.

Wasps scored a combined 123 points in their three matches prior to the final and continued to score regularly in the showpiece, beating benecosMavericks to claim the £25,000 winner’s prize.

Speaking post-match, Dunn said: “Thankfully my shooting arm was on fire today. It was great fun and an awesome tournament to be a part of. As the games went on I knew I was shooting well and the other shooters stepped up when needed.

“We knew Mavs were playing really well and shooting really well so we know we had to be better.”

Last year’s winners Loughborough Lightning were knocked out before the semi-finals by Surrey Storm, whose team included defender Sharni Layton who was playing the final event of her career.

The event, which was jam-packed with screaming fans, provided unlimited amounts of entertainment as promised throughout the entire day.

The results of the event were as follows:

Double elimination stage

Loughborough Lightning 19-21 Surrey Storm
Strathclyde Sirens 4-15 Severn Stars
Team Bath 23-18 Manchester Thunder
benecosMavericks 31-41 Wasps Netball
Surrey Storm 12-28 Severn Stars
Team Bath 23-37 Wasps Netball
Loughborough Lightning 32-28 Strathclyde Sirens
Manchester Thunder 22-32 bencosMavericks
Surrey Storm 15-6 Loughborough Lightning
Team Bath 21-47 benecosMavericks

Semi-Finals
Wasps Netball 45-36 Surrey Storm
Severn 8-38 benecosMavericks

The Final
Wasps Netball 42-32 benecosMavericks

Tickets are now on sale for Super 10 – get your squad together and head to the season opener on Saturday 5th January 2019 at Arena Birmingham!