Manchester Thunder beat Loughborough Lightning in Vitality Superleague
By Paul Prenderville
Last Updated: 10/04/16 3:52pm
Loughborough Lightning's hopes of a top four finish were ended on Saturday after defeat to Manchester Thunder and a victory for Team Bath.
With two games remaining fifth place Lightning are nine points adrift of fourth-placed Team Bath who recorded a crucial victory at Team Northumbria
Saturday's three results mean that the top four franchises have secured their play-off places and the final games will now determine who finishes where and the subsequent semi-final matches.
Thunder kept up the pressure on Hertfordshire Mavericks with a strong performance against Lightning, eventually winning 61-51 although their was little between the teams in the early exchanges with scores level at 9-9 and 13-13 at the end of the first quarter.
Thunder pushed themselves in front in the second quarter at one stage forging a seven-goal lead before Lightning rallied to remain in the game and trail 3-25 at the half-time.
Loughborough continued the bring the deficit down in the third and trailed by two goal before Thunder put their foot on the accelerator to lead 47-38 - an advantage they never looked like giving up and they closed out the final period for a victory that ended Lightning's play-off ambition.
Team Bath preserved their pot in the top four with a gritty 51-41 win over Team Northumbria in Newcastle - Lightning and Northumbria both return to action on Monday when they meet live on Sky Sports at Loughborough University.
Saturday's other game saw defending champions Surrey Storm keep up the pressure on the top two with a dominant 68-53 win over Celtic Dragons in Cardiff.
You can watch the latest netball action from the Vitality Superleague on Sky Sports 3 from 7.30pm on Monday.
By purchasing a Sky Sports Day Pass for £6.99 or Sky Sports Week Pass for £10.99, you can enjoy access to all seven Sky Sports channels and watch on a TV with a NOW TV Box or on a range of devices.