Vitality Netball Superleague: Manchester Thunder dismiss Wasps to retain perfect season | Netball News

Karen Greig’s outfit added the 20-goal victory at Belle Vue to the 59-56 result they secured against Saracens Mavericks on Saturday; the three-time champions remain unbeaten this season and head on the road to take on Team Bath Netball next

Last Updated: 28/02/22 7:19pm

Manchester Thunder remain unbeaten this season in the Vitality Netball Superleague (Image credit: Ben Lumley)

Manchester Thunder remain unbeaten this season in the Vitality Netball Superleague (Image credit: Ben Lumley)

Manchester Thunder ruthlessly dismissed Wasps on Monday night and handed a club debut to Shadine van der Merwe in Round Five of the Vitality Netball Superleague.

The 71-51 result backed up Thunder’s gritty three-goal victory over Saracens Mavericks two days earlier, and for the fifth time this season they scored 70 goals or more.

For Wasps, the defeat is their fourth of the season as they continue to try and find their feet as a new-look squad. They’ll now return to the training court and look to improve again, prior to a trip to Yorkshire in Round Six.

Manchester Thunder travel to the Team Bath Arena on Friday evening and that match will be streamed live on the Sky Sports YouTube channel from 7.30pm.

Vitality Netball Superleague – Round Five results

Strathclyde Sirens 48-61 Loughborough Lightning
London Pulse 50-37 Celtic Dragons
Saracens Mavericks 56-59 Manchester Thunder
Severn Stars 45-48 Team Bath Netball
Surrey Storm 58-49 Leeds Rhinos Netball
Manchester Thunder 71-51 Wasps

From the first whistle, Karen Greig highlighted the versatility within her Thunder squad by starting Nat Metcalf at goal attack and pushing Eleanor Cardwell back to shooter.

Lois Pearson was handed the reins at wing attack, with the experienced international Caroline O’Hanlon starting at centre.

For Wasps, Mel Mansfield selected a line-up they’d already put out this season, as they looked to bounce back from a sobering 52-35 defeat by London Pulse in Round Four.

Manchester Thunder vs Wasps – Starting sevens

Manchester Thunder Wasps
GS: Eleanor Cardwell GS: Rachel Dunn
GA: Nat Metcalf GA: Lucy Parize
WA: Lois Pearson WA: Iona Christian
C: Caroline O’Hanlon C: Lauren Nicholls
WD: Laura Malcolm WD: Caroline Tarnowski
GD: Millie Sanders GD: Ella Powell-Davies
GK: Kerry Almond GK: Josie Huckle

Pre-match Mansfield had said she wanted to see Wasps “attack the game”, however, it was Thunder who made the first move and they looked extremely classy in attack.

Metcalf and Cardwell linked together beautifully, their feeders hit the pockets and edge well and once they were there, were accurate in their work.

Rachel Dunn had just 18 shots at goal against Pulse in Round Four and again, many of Wasps’ final feeds into her were inaccurate. The former champions looked shaky through court too, which did little to help their confidence.

Manchester Thunder vs Wasps – Quarter-by-quarter scores

Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 FT
Manchester Thunder 19 19 15 18 71
Wasps 10 12 12 17 51

Thunder remained unchanged for the start of the second quarter, while Mansfield made amendments at both ends.

Lucy Parize, Wasps’ starting goal attack left the court, Dunn shifted out to replace her and Gezelle Allison arrived at shooter. Ella Powell-Davies went to wing defence and Rachel Fee was given the task of marking Metcalf.

Initially, Wasps’ changes made a difference with keeper Josie Huckle doing her utmost at the back and Dunn using all of her 16 seasons’ worth of experience to create space in attack.

Mistakes plagued their work though and they were quiet on court. In contrast, Thunder thrived on their home crowd’s noise and duly doubled their tally.

Both captains shared their views at half-time; Laura Malcolm highlighted that it was a physical game, while Huckle said Wasps had been given “a right rocket” after the first quarter and that they were “paying too much respect” to Thunder.

With a 38-22 half-time lead, Thunder turned to the bench and deployed Van der Merwe for the first time at goal defence.

The South African international had arrived in early January, returning from three years playing Down Under, but had not been able to take to court due to injury.

Wasps lifted their energy and matched Thunder for a large part of the third set of 15 minutes. As a collective they were more positive, celebrated their wins and were able to find Dunn and Allison up front, with Leah Goss working well at centre.

At the start of the final quarter, Thunder made wholesale changes again and at one point in the second half, six out of their seven players were internationals.

Wasps maintained the positivity they’d found at half-time though, and worked hard to ensure the energy they took away from Belle Vue was positive with a close final quarter. However, Thunder continued to surge forwards and remain the ones to beat so far this season.

The Vitality Netball Superleague continues on Friday with Team Bath Netball hosting Manchester Thunder. The contest will be streamed live on the Sky Sports YouTube channel from 7.30pm.

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