Neville’s Northern Thunder overcome Yorkshire rivals in Superleague opener

By Joseph Fitzpatrick

Gary and Phil are used to being the focus of sporting attention in the Neville family, but last night all eyes were on sister Tracey whose Northern Thunder team overcame Yorkshire Jets 57-36 in their netball Superleague opener.    

Her brothers were in attendance, joined by Paul Scholes, with the three taking advantage of Thunder’s ‘dads and daughter’s promotion, as did the Lord Mayor and former Preston North End defender Chris Lucketti.

Tracey declared after the game that both Gary and Phil are huge netball fans: “My brothers have really got into their netball over the last few years,” she said.

“I think they’ve got more time now to sit down and watch the sport and have really got into this Fast Net competition.

“I’m really proud, they constantly support us and to come down on ‘dads and daughters’ night and just do some promotion of netball is brilliant for me.

“It’s a sport that has given me so much passion if I can do that little bit to promote it, I’ll do anything.”

However the Thunder head coach was relieved that her brother had not followed through his threat on Twitter to step into the Sky studio and offer his netball punditry, she added: “He actually tweeted me that he was going to bring his Sky Pad down and give me some coaches feedback but I actually don’t think he knows more than me, even though he likes to think he does.”

Not that she had much to fear.

After a frantic start to the game in which both teams exchanged numerous turnovers, Thunder settled first and quickly established a 14-10 lead at quarter-time, with Krista Enziano finding her range.

Jets began the second in a more positive fashion but Thunder’s grip on the game was absolute and for all their labour the Yorkshire team never looked likely to wrestle the momentum back.

And by half time Neville’s girls led 27-19 with Laura Malcolm showing the kind of form that has seen her break into the England squad.

If any of the 900 strong crowd at half time harboured fantasises of a Jets comeback they were set straight minutes into the third quarter.

While the Yorkshire team capitulated Thunder set about running up a 45-23, and insurmountable lead, with Lawson and Kathryn Turner kept busy in the Jets circle. 

And although the scoring glut slowed in the final 15 minutes Thunder still helped themselves to 57 goals and a victory which betrays top four class.

Despite the dominating performance Tracey was not satisfied with how her team had performed: “You have to take the win as a win but I have to say that I wasn’t actually pleased with the way we started the game,” the ex-England shooter said.

“I think there were a lot of nerves out there and it’s the first time I’ve witnessed Northern Thunder make so many unforced errors.

“I never expected an easy game, I don’t think that was an easy game for us, but moving on to the next game against Bath next week we have to eliminate the errors we made tonight.”

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