Surrey Storm end Manchester Thunder's unbeaten record in Vitality Netball Superleague
By Richard Damerell
Last Updated: 06/03/16 3:37pm
Surrey Storm inflicted a first defeat of the season on Manchester Thunder as the reigning champions battled to a 55-49 win in the Vitality Netball Superleague on Monday.
England shooter Rachel Dunn played a leading role as Surrey took command in the third quarter, and the end of Manchester's unbeaten record meant they were joined at the top by the Hertfordshire Mavericks, who moved level on points after a 44-30 win over Team Bath.
The Thunder displayed slick interplay in the first quarter, with Sara Bayman feeding swift balls to attacking duo Natalie Haythornthwaite and Helen Housby.
After falling four goals behind, Surrey gradually began to gain a grip on the match and reliable shooting from Dunn allowed the Storm to cut the deficit to 14-12.
The towering Dunn continued to make her presence felt in the second quarter as she drew Surrey level, but rival shooter Haythornthwaite was making a succession of shots for Manchester.
There were calls for calm from match officials as a fast-paced encounter became increasingly physical and Sophia Candappa required treatment after a nasty fall.
But Haythornthwaite kept her cool and fired the Thunder into a 26-24 lead at half-time.
Manchester looked to Liana Leota for more inspiration after the break and she skilfully sought out Haythornthwaite and Housby.
But Dunn was still a potent outlet for the Storm, who enjoyed a hot spell of scoring in the third quarter, and Pamela Cookey also played her part as Surrey pulled 40-35 ahead.
This healthy lead was briefly stretched to seven goals in the fourth quarter as Surrey ended the match strongly and held on for the win, despite the home side's desperate efforts.