Coverage of the third round continues on Monday, with two back-to-back matches live on Sky Sports Mix and streamed on the Sky Sports YouTube channel from 5pm.
By Josh Gorton and Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 21/02/21 7:50pm
Manchester Thunder, the 2019 Vitality Netball Superleague champions, made a significant statement with a comprehensive 57-30 victory over London Pulse on Sunday.
Karen Greig’s outfit took to court for the third match of the day and followed in the footsteps of Leeds Rhinos Netball and Strathclyde Sirens, who were also victorious at the start of round three.
Thunder, who played on the opening night of the season against Sirens, had to wait patiently for their second game and they’d clearly used their training time well.
After a blistering start, they never looked back and there would have been smiles under the masks of Greig and her assistant coaches, Tracey Neville and Gabrielle Towell, at the full-time whistle.
For London Pulse, it was a challenging day at the office and one that they’ll want to learn from and not repeat in a hurry.
Vitality Superleague – Round Three fixtures & results
|Sunday||Surrey Storm 44-50 Leeds Rhinos Netball|
|Celtic Dragons 35-52 Strathclyde Sirens|
|Manchester Thunder 57-30 London Pulse|
|Loughborough Lightning vs Saracens Mavericks|
|Monday||Celtic Dragons vs Surrey Storm|
|Wasps Netball vs Team Bath Netball|
After making a slow start during their first game of the season against Sirens, Greig’s outfit raced out the blocks this time around and showed the benefits of 13 of their squad having come through their pathway.
From the outset, they asserted their dominance against Pulse, who suffered a last-gasp 42-40 defeat to Surrey Storm in their season opener. Early turnovers in Thunder’s defensive end were quickly converted to goals and that sequence was to be the order of the first 12 minutes.
The 2019 champions rattled off eight goals without reply, and Pulse’s attacking struggles were compounded by Thunder’s defensive discipline – the returning Kerry Almond was central to their confident start and her long-standing partnership with Emma Dovey shone.
Thunder led 18-7 after the first quarter, and during the first pause in play, Pamela Cookey in commentary sighted the need for London Pulse to tighten up their connections and inject some pace and width into their attacking play.
Pulse’s head coach Sam Bird clearly agreed as she introduced Adean Thomas on at WA, having given Lefebre Rademan the nod from the outset.
Meanwhile, Greig decided to maintain the line-up that had delivered their 11-goal lead after the first 12 minutes, and they picked up where they left off to stretch their advantage to 33-13 at the halfway point.
At the interval, Thunder did mix up things up personnel wise, with Caroline O’Hanlon arriving at WA and Laura Malcom shifting to WD. In the circle, Lois Pearson’s entrance moved Eleanor Cardwell back into the goal shooter position.
For Pulse, Bird turned to her bench again in order to try and change the picture of the match.
Funmi Fadoju was called upon to bring the dynamism that she’s famed for at GD, while shooter Sigi Burger was replaced by Olivia Tchine and Ashleigh Dekker came on for Michelle Drayne at C.
Manchester Thunder vs London Pulse – Quarter scores
During the second half of the contest, the Londoners never gave up. Dekker produced some wonderful pieces of athleticism and Halimat Adio worked tirelessly in defence.
They cut the deficit to 37-18 following a bright start to the second half, but continued to make some unforced errors which their opponents pounced on.
Greig used the latter stages to continue to expose the younger members of her squad to Vitality Netball Superleague life, and yet again, Berri Neil looked sharp.
All in all, it was a productive day’s work for Thunder and their 27-goal victory sent a message to all of their rivals, about their intentions for the rest of the season.
Sky Sports is your home of netball. The Vitality Netball Superleague continues on Monday with two back-to-back matches, live on Sky Sports Mix and streamed on the Sky Sports YouTube channel from 5pm.
— to www.skysports.com