Manchester Thunder flew out of the blocks at the Ricoh Arena to become the first team to defeat Wasps this season. Following a lacklustre performance against Team Bath last Friday, Thunder had a point to prove and Wasps were literally left in their wake as the ruthless northerners ripped away the Coventry-based team’s unbeaten run.
There was no stopping the Thunder attack with Caroline O’Hanlon linking well with Liana Leota and they were finding shooters Kathryn Turner and particularly Joyce Mvula with ease. They found the ball was coming back with regularity as the defence pressured Wasps into mistakes and turned the ball over creating chance after chance for the firing attack. Emma Dovey and Laura Malcolm were keeping a high line and their vociferous defending was rewarded with Wasps only getting nine goals on the board with the first quarter ending 9-16.
In the second quarter Thunder continued to mesmerise the Wasps defence, Mvula’s movement ensured she was an constant outlet and made it easy for Leota and O’Hanlon feeding from the circle edge. The free-scoring black and yellows put 22 goals past Wasps and extended their lead to 15 goals with the score at 23-38.
The crowd at the Ricoh Arena also appeared to be stunned as there was an eerie silence around and it was Wasps that made the change at half time bringing recent England debutant Fran Williams on at goal defence with captain Hannah Knights moving back to goal keeper. Thunder head coach Karen Greig quite sensibly stuck with the team that were on fire and the half time break did nothing to stop the away sides momentum. Mvula and Turner were racking up the goals and quickly extended the lead to 20 goals.
Wasps finally found some form and started to chip away at the lead, with Thunder taking their foot off the pedal for a while, and they went into the three-quarter break with the score at 40-53. Wasps were still in the game and you can never be sure with Thunder until the fat lady sings.
But Thunder were not in the mood to give anything away and with a couple of early settlers from Mvula and Turner it pretty much assured Thunder the three points. Wasps never gave up and the crowd finally woke up in the fourth urging them to break down the lead but with Mvula scoring 49 goals from 50 attempts throughout the game, Thunder tore up the form book and took the victory 55-64.
Head Coach Karen Greig commented: “First of all really pleased with the result tonight, after the defeat on Friday in Bath we had to back it up with a big performance tonight and the girls sent out a message from the first few minutes of the game. They trained really well last night and they carried that intensity into the game tonight.”
“You look at the work rate throughout the court in defence and attack. We didn’t make many errors in attack and we played possession well for the majority of the game. In defence we were hungry for ball, we were shutting them down and challenging ball. Overall happy with the performance, still not a complete performance, about 85% there, but we will take the nine goal win.”
Thunder Squad: GK Almond GD Dovey WD Malcolm C O’Hanlon WA Leota GA Turner GS Mvula
Bench: Airey, Cardwell, Carter, Kindred, McAndrew
Wasps squad: GK Huckle GD Knights WD Flanagan C Clarke WA Msomi GA Harris GS Dunn
Bench: Candappa, Essam, May, Moala, Williams
Courtesy of Manchester Thunder