Vitality Superleague: Manchester Thunder maintain perfect record with Loughborough win
Round Three concludes on Sky Sports Arena & Mix from 6.45pm on Monday when London Pulse host Celtic Dragons
By Paul Prenderville
Last Updated: 09/03/20 10:31am
Staring down the barrel of a first defeat of the season Manchester Thunder showed why they are Superleague champions with a superb comeback to beat Loughborough and stay perfect at the top of the table.
Team Bath laid down the gauntlet on Friday night with an impressive win over Wasps, leaving Thunder and London Pulse knowing they would need wins to keep pace with last season's semi-finalists.
And Thunder delivered, overturning a 12-goal deficit to catch Lightning in the closing moments and then overtake them for a 67-64 victory.
There was also action in Hertfordshire on Saturday as Saracens Mavericks moved back into the top four with a 61-45 win over Severn Stars.
Thunder perfect after stirring comeback
Loughborough have proved to be a thorn in Thunder's side over the last couple of season and it looked like being so again as Lightning had the better of the first three quarters of a thrilling game at Belle Vue.
Sara Bayman's side, without the injured Nat Panagarry, started fast with Ella Clark and Mark Cholhok forging an early lead. However Thunder's own star-studded attack, featuring Joyce Mvula back in the starting seven, ended the opening 15 minutes with a single-goal advantage.
A spectacular second quarter from Lightning turned the game on its head and gave them an eight-goal advantage by half-time, Cholhok maintaining her impressive form in the shooter's bib.
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Wow....jeeezze!!! Nerves are shot... it certainly wasn’t pretty to say the least!! But my team showed great resilience and unity to pull back from a 12 goal deficit ! Loughborough certainly brought it today and spilled very little and made it hard for us. Super proud of them... back to the drawing board and go again! For now I go hard tonight #40 #partytime
Another Superleague sell-out crowd did their best to turn things around for the home side but Thunder were unable to get going and instead it was Lightning who continued to pull away before a spectacular late blitz from the champions.
Mvula helped Thunder chip away at the end of the third quarter as Thunder's playmakers began to turn over crucial ball and Lightning, despite a raft of changes, were unable to stem the flow and the lead had been reduced to one with eight minutes remaining.
As the teams traded goals, Lightning held a two-goal advantage with two minutes remaining but as is often the case, the defence came up big for Karen Greig and Thunder, who caught and then moved clear at the crucial moment for a three-goal success.
Up Next - Manchester Thunder head out on the road for Round Four when they travel to Worcester Arena to take on the so-far winless Severn Stars next Saturday, while Lightning are the hosts for Monday night netball as the Sky Sports cameras head to Loughborough their clash with Mavericks.
Round Three results & fixtures
|Friday||Strathclyde Sirens 61-53 Surrey Storm|
|Team Bath 62-51 Wasps|
|Saturday||Saracens Mavericks 61-45 Severn Stars|
|Manchester Thunder 67-64 Loughborough Lightning|
|Monday||Celtic Dragons vs London Pulse|
Mavs too strong for struggling Stars
After a barnstorming Season Opener win against Severn Stars, the Mavericks and Stars met again just a fortnight later, and the result was the same - an emphatic Mavs victory.
Kat Ratnapala's team had won by 21 goals in Birmingham and while the margin wasn't quite as big, a 61-45 success at the Hertfordshire Sports Village was just the tonic for Mavs who had lost at Wasps on Monday night.
Stars arrived on the back of two defeats to start the start, but matched the hosts early on, taking advantage of the opening centre pass to stay in front through the early minutes, but Mavericks hit the accelerator midway through the opening quarter.
Kat Ratnapala's Mavericks verdict
There were a lot of lessons, learnings and heartbreak that we took from the Wasps game into today's game and there was a lot of positives to come out of training this week.
It was a really strong squad performance, the changes from the bench helped us.
From 5-4 down, and inspired by England shooter George Fisher, Mavericks took a 10-6 lead and with Jo Trip leading a defensive circle turning over plenty of ball it was the hosts who ended the opening quarter with a 19-8 lead.
They never looked like losing that advantage, and despite spirited Stars resistance keeping them in touching distance they were unable to get closer than five goals, defensive errors were their undoing as Mavs went in at half-time with a 12-goal lead.
It was honours even in the third quarter before Stars began to threaten the unlikeliest of comebacks, drawing to within eight goals at one stage.
But Mavericks powered away over the final moments, Kadeen Corbin joining Fisher in being almost perfect under the post - the pair missed just two of 59 shots between them - as Mavericks closed out a dominant second win of the season.
Following a fantastic performance in the shooting circle, today’s Player of the Match is..... @GeorginaFisher4!— Saracens Mavericks (@SaracensMavs) March 7, 2020
A massive thanks to our partners @welwynflorist for sponsoring today’s award. #BeAMaverick #TogetherSaracens ⚫️🔴 pic.twitter.com/Qw99y3ZraG
Up Next - Mavericks are live on Sky Sports for their next action, chasing a third win of the season when they face Loughborough Lightning while Stars continue their search for a first win of the season on Saturday when they host the champions Manchester Thunder.
Coverage of the Vitality Netball Superleague season continues with Round Three on Monday when London Pulse entertain Celtic Dragons. Join us on Sky Sports Arena, Mix and YouTube from 6.45pm.