Northern Thunder showed they are a team with confidence ahead of the Superleague Showdown after thrashing champions Hertfordshire Mavericks 68-45 at the Thunderdome, Manchester.
Thunder started the game aggressively as Goalkeeper, Kerry Almond intercepted a Mavericks pass and aimed the ball down court for Goal Shooter, Karen Greig to shoot and score first for Thunder.
Mavericks could not muster an initial fightback and could only scrape one point back and soon found themselves 5-1 down.
Feisty defensive play though from Goalkeeper Nadia Hutchinson often saved Mavericks from embarrassment and Goal Attack Alice Ewer’s quick shooting soon made it a closer affair at 9-4.
Towards the end of the first quarter, Thunder seemed in control with Wing Attack Beth Cobden making speedy throws to Greig in the circle, Mavericks bounced back with two quick points to make the score 14-8.
Mavericks knew they had to improve their shooting and replaced their own Goal Shooter Shaunagh Craig with Steffi Burt.
But Thunder seized the initiative in the second quarter to increase their lead by eight, yet at times they looked sloppy through mid-court. Mavericks used this to their advantage and scored two shots making it 16-10.
Despite Mavericks going on the offensive with Burt, they could not close the gap, with the first-half ending 32-19.
However, the Mavericks were not yet ready to quit the Thunderdome and started the third quarter strongest, netting four straight shots to claw the score back to 33-24.
Thunder’s director of netball Tracey Neville called a time-out at 33-27 to regroup and make changes.
Mavericks lost their momentum after the break with Janelle Lawson, back on court after suffering an injury in the second quarter, and Greig reigniting their attacking partnership, netting six straight shots between them.
The fourth quarter saw Thunder solidify their lead, with Sara Bayman’s excellent pass to Lawson allowing her to net her side’s 50th point.
Maverick’s defence looked dejected while Greig turned into a goal machine and Thunder tried to hit the 70 mark. But persistency from Hutchinson and Wing Attack Sasha Corbin meant Mavericks carried on.
While a final score of 68-45 looked one-sided, the former champions showed moments of brilliance, making it difficult for the Thunder in the third quarter.