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Vitality Netball Superleague: Manchester Thunder takes third place in play-offs | Netball News


Loughborough Lightning and Team Bath Netball also produced excellent performances at the Copper Box Arena; Vitality Netball Superleague coverage continues on Sunday with three straight matches broadcast live on Sky Sports’ YouTube channel starting at 2 p.m.

Last updated: 05/29/21 19:31

Manchester Thunder have booked their place in the semi-finals with three rounds to go (Image credit – Ben Lumley)

Manchester Thunder became the third team to secure a play-off berth on Saturday with a 55-43 victory over Severn Stars at the Copper Box Arena.

The positive result means the 2019 Vitality Netball Superleague champions will join Team Bath Netball and Loughborough Lightning on the Finals weekend in late June.

Now, with just one playoff spot left, the spotlight remains on the Wasps, Leeds Rhinos Netball, Saracens Mavericks and Strathclyde Sirens.

All four will appear in court (again in Sirens’ case) on Sunday and Monday, and the weekend will end with meeting the Wasps and Mavericks. Each contest will be broadcast live on Sky Sports’ YouTube channel, with Monday’s two fixtures also being broadcast on Sky Sports Mix.

Vitality Netball Superleague – Day 17

Celtic Dragons 30-51 London Pulse
Severn Stars 32-45 Team Bath Netball
Loughborough Lightning 59-35 Celtic Dragons
Manchester Thunder 55-43 Severn All-Star
Strathclyde Sirens 37-48 Bath Netball Team

Thunder book coveted place for the play-offs

The Manchester Thunder shooter was dominant in the defending Champions Circle (Image credit: Ben Lumley)

The Manchester Thunder shooter was dominant in the defending Champions Circle (Image credit: Ben Lumley)

Manchester Thunder’s quest to retain the title they won in 2019 remains on track, having shown poise when needed against Severn Stars.

The 55-43 victory was born after a determined second quarter and resilience in the face of a strong response from the Stars in the second half.

After a standoff in the first 12 minutes, during which the two teams struggled to find fast lanes to their respective shooters, Thunder flipped the switch.

They upped their intensity on defense, shut down all of the Stars’ options and used their offensive precision to turn a four-goal cushion into an 11-goal lead halfway through.

Quarter by quarter scores

T1 T2 T3 T4 FT
Manchester Thunder 11 17 11 16 55
Severn stars 7 ten 15 11 43

The third quarter belonged to the Stars, as Jane Taylor provided the magical ingredient in their offense and Melissa Bessell’s third defensive combination of the game gained momentum.

The Thunder players started the fourth quarter with looks of steel in their eyes. They got some key turnovers in the first half of it and that allowed them to put out any other threats and take the game away from the Stars yet again.

“It’s great that we’re in the top four,” Karen Greig told Air sports after the meeting.

“The performance wasn’t necessarily complete. We had a pretty tough third quarter and the Stars asked us a lot of questions, but we were able to keep our cool and keep going when we needed to.”

Mermaids Beaten By Slick Bath

Team Bath Netball hit their straps against Strathclyde Sirens (Image credit - Ben Lumley)

Team Bath Netball hit their straps against Strathclyde Sirens (Image credit – Ben Lumley)

Strathclyde Sirens, one of the teams still in contention for last place in the top four, found himself on the wrong side of the result against Team Bath Netball.

A tough first quarter turned out to be the loss of the Scottish squad, as a full formation from Bath made the most of the fact that Towera Vinkhumbo was not selected to start, due to the handling of its hearing time.

With his presence missing in defense, Sirens couldn’t return a single ball in the first 12 minutes and that allowed Bath to get their foot on the gas.

Quarter by quarter scores

T1 T2 T3 T4 FT
Strathclyde Sirens 7 ten ten ten 37
Team swim netball 15 15 11 7 48

Bath then increased the tempo in the second quarter; Player of the Match Rachel Shaw was inspired in WA and their offense played at a speed few teams in the competition could match.

Another 15-goal quarter made matters worse for the Sirens before they switched staff at half-time. The changes, which included the arrival of Vinkhumbo and Bethan Goodwin spending time at the shooter, helped them build in the second half.

With an important game against the Mavericks on Sunday, the momentum will have been welcomed, but that hasn’t changed the outcome of the current game.

Lightning dominates the dragons

A 21-goal first quarter set the Lightning on the path to yet another win (Image credit - Ben Lumley)

A 21-goal first quarter set the Lightning on the path to yet another win (Image credit – Ben Lumley)

In the first game of the day, Loughborough Lightning kept his foot on the gas with a result of 24 goals against Celtic Dragons.

After beating the Welsh franchise 76-23 in the 10th round, Lightning has once again proven to be the Dragons’ biggest enemy in the competition.

Sara Francis-Bayman’s starting sevens found their marks on the first center pass and didn’t look back. The head coach also used the 48 minutes to look at different combinations, while the Dragons struggled to fight back after an unconfident start.

A 21-4 first quarter marked the Dragons wall and created Lightning’s unassailable lead. Hannah Joseph’s return provided impeccable, clean service to Mary Cholhok, and Annika Lee-Jones couldn’t get her hands on anything.

Quarter by quarter scores

T1 T2 T3 T4 FT
Loughborough Lightning 21 12 16 ten 59
Celtic Dragons 4 ten ten 11 35

A much tighter second quarter and an 11-10 final quarter in favor of the Dragons rewarded the Welsh side’s efforts and ability to stick to the task, but they did not have the weapons to stop Lightning’s momentum within 48 minutes.

“Motivation could have been an issue for us today and it definitely wasn’t,” Francis-Bayman told Sky sports.

“The girls took in what we were trying to do. We know we have a huge game against the Rhinos on Monday. There are a few things to be worked out but generally we’re going in the right direction.”

Sky Sports is your home of netball. The Vitality Netball Superleague continues Sunday with Round 18 and three successive matches broadcast on Sky Sports’ YouTube channel starting at 2 p.m. ET.





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