MATCH REPORT | MANCHESTER THUNDER 61 – 53 SARACENS MAVERICKS
By Erica Rosa Tapp
Defeat in Manchester frustrates Mavericks’ play off campaign
Mavericks played tirelessly in their second game in two days but were denied a perfect weekend by the still unbeaten Thunder.
Victory over Storm the day before brought Mavericks level with Team Bath as both teams seek to join Thunder, Lightning and Pulse in the play offs. Denied an additional three points from their trip to Belle Vue, Mavericks will need wins from their remaining games. They’ll also be cheering on Dragons and Wasps as those teams face Bath in rounds 18 and 19 before facing the Blue and Golds themselves on May 28th.
Head Coach, Kat Ratnapala, reflected on the match:
“It’s a shame that we couldn’t connect our attack and defence end. But I couldn’t be prouder of the work rate that the guys put in.
Having Kadeen Corbin play at the back as well as she’s doing at the moment is amazing. Georgia Lees got my Player of the Match; her work rate was outstanding today.
All we can do is just focus on us to be honest. The season’s gone the way its gone and we needed to take our opportunities when we did. We didn’t take those opportunities earlier on so, yeah, we are where we are now. So, we needed three points from today’s match but we’re also playing for our pride at the moment.”
Mavericks are one of only two teams to have come within three points of Karen Greig’s side this season so it was with fire in their bellies that the visitors attacked tonight’s match. With Quashie out for the remainder of the season, Kadeen took her place as Goal Keeper while Essam joined Venter at the other end of the court.
In the first quarter the game was end-to-end with the score level at six apiece. However, Thunder were pressing hard to shut down routes to goal for the visitors and went into the first break with a modest lead.
In the second quarter Lees stayed on for Sasha Corbin. Zaranyika made an immediate impact when she came on to bolster Mavericks’ defence. The northern side also made some substitutions and, although Saracens won the quarter, it was advantage Thunder when the half time whistle blew.
Mavericks came out fighting in the third, with their characteristic defensive power at one end matched by incisive balls into the circle at the other. However, too many times offensive balls were unconverted and Thunder settled down into the driving seat.
Although the sides won two quarters each, Mavericks couldn’t reclaim the ground lost to the current VNSL leaders in quarters 1 and 3.
Thunder’s Laura Malcolm was awarded Gilbert Player of the Match and had this to say about their opposition: “We needed a game that was gonna test us and that really did.”
Mavericks can be proud that their defensive endeavours kept Thunder a long way from the 80+ goals they’ve netted in three of their last four matches.
In six days the Hertfordshire team will return north to face Leeds Rhinos and settle the score against the team who snatched victory from them in the dying minutes last time they met.
Remaining fixtures: 3pm 21st May away to Leeds Rhinos; 4pm 28th May home against Team Bath
Saracens Mavericks starting 7: GS Ine-Mari Venter; GA Chloe Essam; WA Sasha Corbin (C); C Beth Ecuyer-Dale; WD Gabby Marshall; GD Jodie Gibson; GK Kadeen Corbin
Replacements: Beatrice Skingsley; Georgia Lees; Aliyah Zaranyika; Odiri Atirene; Britney Clarke
Manchester Thunder starting 7: GS Joyce Mvula; GA Eleanor Cardwell; WA Natalie Metcalf; C Caroline O’Hanlon; WD Laura Malcolm (C); GD Shadine van der Merwe; GK Kerry Almond
Replacements: Lois Pearson; Emma Rayner; Yasmin Roebuck; Emilia Roscoe; Millie Sanders
Quarter scores (Manchester Thunder first): Q1 18-11; Q2 29-23 (11-12); Q3 48-39 (19-16); Q4 61-53 (13-14)