Northern Thunder stormed past Northumbria in a high-tension occasion, winning 71-35 on Saturday.
Pink week blossomed through the Manchester Thunderdome as Northern Thunder raised money for Cancer Research. The girls sported vibrant pink kits for the occasion but were fierce as ever against visitors, Team Northumbria.
Tensions were high on and off the court as Director, Tracey Neville, was pitted up against her former team. However as soon as play started Thunder were on form.
The first net went to the visitors but GA, Karen Greig, responded to make it one all. From then on Thunder were on top scoring five points in succession. Sara Bayman was influential at centre intercepting Northumbria’s swooping passes allowing Northern Thunder to win a crucial point on the defence. The girls had soon doubled their lead to 8-4.
However the team weren’t flawless as Grieg missed a climatic point allowing Northumbria’s Darcie Worsdale to score a sixth. Thunder soon came back though and at the end of the first quarter looked invincible at 16-8.
Changes for the second quarter included a first start for Eleanor Cardwell and Beth Cobden to be replaced by Danielle Bloomfield at WA.
First blood went to Northern Thunder as they racked up the nets to make it 21-9 with long range shots from GS, Kathryn Turner.
Things turned even tougher for Team Northumbria when their Goal Keeper, Maria Ewing, suffered an ankle injury and was forced off. Jade Johnson came on as a replacement for the trailing team but fresh feisty legs couldn’t make any difference as Greig soon made it 25-10.
Team Northumbria didn’t give in to the roars of Northern Thunder fans. Their best period in the game came when play turned shaky. Their key player, Toetsie Kambatuku at GS narrowed the lead. Somehow the visitors scored three in succession making the score line 26-15.
Laura Malcolm’s clinical interception during an attack from Team Northumbria meant Greig could convert and put the girls back on track.
The first half ended 36-20 with Northern Thunder obliterating their opponents.
At half time the supporters were entertained by St. Mary’s Primary School cheerleaders. They showed Northern Thunder weren’t the only ones with great power moves as they flipped and cart-wheeled across the court for the cheering crowd.
Multiple changes at half time for the home side meant the line up was now from GK: Almond, Dovey, Cobden, Bayman, Bloomfield, Lawson and Enziano.
The game got off to a sumptuous start. Enziano converted a smooth ball from Lawson making the scoreline 40-21.
Northumbria were on the ropes and were thwarted again by injury as WA, Vicky Burgess struggled with injury and illness.
Team Northumbria was forced to bench another player. Claire Brown moved from C to WA, Emma Woodings replaced Burgess and attempted to make a difference.
But this didn’t stop Enziano from finding the net again, moving Thunder up by 23.
Lawson and Bloomfield’s skilled interceptions gave Enziano even more shooting opportunities, making it 59-26.
Team Northumbria didn’t back down as Brown won the ball for her team to counter and score, yet at the end of the third quarter the girls were thundering ahead at 60-27 .
Changes in the fourth quarter meant all of Northern Thunder’s players had taken part in this one-sided encounter. The line up from GK was now: Dovey, Almond, Bayman, Cobden, Henry, Greig and Enziano.
Team Northumbria could hardly compete with the abundance of fresh legs and Enziano’s skilful shooting.
With five minutes to score the away crowd cheered as Team Northumbria’s Worsdale softened the blow making it 64-33.
Fast play from Northern Thunder though left the visitors chasing shadows and Enziano scored the final net ending the match: 71-35.
Captain Sara Bayman’s smooth strong passes and influential interceptions made her the deserved Player of the Match.
Northern Thunder’s Performance Analyst, Dave Smyth praised Krista Enziano’s shooting at GS and said: “Enziano’s sheer amount of shots were incredible, she netted 21 out of 23 shots. The stats were great.”
Northern Thunder inflicted the visitor’s heaviest defeat of the season. Perhaps the pink kits were the team’s lucky charm. Who knows if they’ll get another wearing when the players meet last season’s champions Herfordshire Mavericks on March 5?
Starting 7 for Northern Thunder from GK: Almond, Cardwell, Malcolm, Bayman, Cobden, Turner and Greig.