Surrey Storm Netball suffered their first home defeat in two seasons on Saturday evening as rivals Manchester Thunder secured a 47-58 win at Surrey Sports Park.
An even battle was resolved in the fourth quarter as Storm failed to capitalise on their opportunities on goal, despite matching their unbeaten opponents for 45 minutes of the match.
Coach Greenway opted to keep the same starting 7 from the win over Hertfordshire Mavericks 7 days previous, with new signing Bongiwe Msomi featuring on the bench just a few days after arriving in England.
The visitors opened the brighter of the two sides, quickly converting a turnover in the opening exchanges. Amy Flanagan started in her usual lively fashion, intercepting a midcourt pass which Surrey failed to feed to the attack. But it didn’t take Storm long to level the scores as Pamela Cookey created a chance half way through the quarter, which fellow England shooter Rachel Dunn successfully scored. Thunder were handed a chance to turnover late on in the quarter as Dunn uncharacteristically missed another chance on goal and it was Manchester who took a 12-14 lead into the first break.
Thunder returned to court to immediately turn over the ball and extend their lead, but a sudden injection of life within the Storm squad allowed them to pull off two interceptions of their own, with Dunn netting 4 straight goals to hand Surrey a 18-17 lead. Storm went on to score a huge 9 goals in just a few minutes, with Thunder replying with a single effort as the tables turn in favour of the hosts, who led 27-24 at half time.
Another quick start from Manchester meant that they quickly levelled the scores at 27-27, reminding Storm that they were still competitive in the fixture. Bongiwe made her first appearance in a duck egg blue dress at C to work alongside Greenway feeding the attack, and with 5 minutes gone in the quarter the England stalwart found Cookey on the edge of the circle, who strode towards the goal to keep the score tied at 30-30. Both sides exchanged turnovers and goals to round off the 3rd quarter at 39-all.
With murmurs from the 1000-strong Surrey Sports Park crowd of the possibility of the first ever Superleague extra time decider on the horizon, Thunder launched themselves into the quarter with a quick 3 goal advantage. Hannah Reid and Katy Holland continued to work hard in the defence against a very confident attacking pairing of Helen Housby and Kathryn Turner, while the Thunder defence were keeping tight on Dunn and Cookey at the opposite end to close out any chance of Storm scoring goals.
Thunder’s lead was held at 2 goals with 7 minutes left of the match, before they turned on the magic at the defensive end, creating numerous chances for the attack to score. The game was quickly out of reach for Surrey, who were struggling to match Thunder’s 98% shooting accuracy and it was the visitors who took the win 47-58 to continue their impressive run of 8 straight Superleague wins in 2015.
Surrey Storm quickly return to action on Tuesday evening when they host Team Bath at Surrey Sports Park in round 9, while Thunder are away to the Mavericks on Monday.
Pictured: South Africa vice-captain Bongiwe Msomi on her Surrey Storm debut against Manchester Thunder