Team Bath Netball’s Vitality Superleague title dream dashed as Manchester Thunder hit back from early deficit to reach Grand Final
The Haines Watts-sponsored Blue & Gold deservedly won the first quarter of Friday’s semi-final at Belle Vue and were going goal for goal with the title favourites until a couple of errors just before half-time allowed Thunder to open up a five-goal lead.
The impressive hosts went on stretch the winning margin to 64-54 but Team Bath Netball Superleague Head Coach Anna Stembridge said her players should take great credit from their performance.
“I’m incredibly proud of the girls, we were excellent for the majority of the game and showed tremendous character,” she said. “We put ourselves in a good position in the first half but didn’t finish it off the way we wanted and a couple of errors proved costly.
“Congratulations to Thunder on reaching the Grand Final and the positive for us is we have an opportunity to finish the season on a high in the bronze-medal match. We will make sure we regroup and put out a strong performance in that game.”
Team Bath were the underdogs heading into Friday’s match but made a confident start with a strong first-quarter performance and led 16-12 heading into the closing stages.
Thunder, who had won all 20 matches during the regular league season, cut the lead to 17-16 going into the second quarter and eventually edged ahead for the first time at 22-21 but Team Bath were resilient and went goal for goal with their hosts.
A couple of mistakes were ruthlessly punished as Thunder finally gave themselves some breathing space but while the determined visitors went into half-time 34-29 down they were still well in the contest.
Thunder have been relentless all season and cranked up the pressure in the early stages of the third quarter, stretching their lead to 40-30, but with star defensive duo Phumza Maweni and Layla Guscoth forcing a number of vital turnovers Team Bath were able to claw back some ground.
Some attacking changes had good effect too as the visitors closed to within seven but an Eleanor Cardwell goal on the buzzer gave Thunder a 48-40 lead going into the final quarter.
Team Bath continued to throw everything at their hosts in the closing 15 minutes but couldn’t close the gap and an impressive Thunder side eventually took the game 64-54.
The Blue & Gold will look to finish their season on a high when they contest the bronze-medal match at London’s Copper Box Arena on Sunday (2.15pm centre-pass). Click here to purchase tickets.
Team Bath Netball is supported by its Principal and Pathway Partner, chartered accountants Haines Watts; Rengen Developments, who are an overall Team Bath Partner; Centurion Chartered Financial Planners and Ecus Ltd, our environment partner. Team Bath’s suppliers include O’Neills, 2XU, Pulseroll and HALO Hydration.
Picture credit: @touchlinepics