Title-chasing Manchester Thunder prove too strong for Team Bath Netball in penultimate home game of Super League season

24 May 2024

Table-topping Manchester Thunder proved too experienced for Team Bath Netball in their penultimate home match of the 2024 Super League season.

The visitors underlined their title credentials during a dominant first quarter which set the platform for an 82-50 victory in front of another 1,200-strong crowd at the Team Bath Arena.

The Blue & Gold fought throughout, though, and a much-improved second-half display – inspired by a raft of pre-planned changes to the on-court combination – saw them deservedly bring up a half-century of goals against strong opposition.

Asha Francis, Team Bath Netball Head Coach, said: “There were some of those crass errors that we’ve said are unacceptable and we need to address those but there were again several positives.

“We had a plan to tackle the dip in the third quarter that has been an issue in recent games and had already decided we would make a wholesale shift in the second half to see what fresh legs and fresh combinations would deliver for us.

Team Bath Fans’ MVP Tash Pavelin receives her prize from Team Bath Netball Franchise Manager Emily Siddy. PICTURES: Mark Harris

“That worked really well and also changed up tactically what the opposition had to think about. That’s a real positive for us, it was a good opportunity to try that out against the very best and it had real purpose. What we have learnt from this game will set us up really well for our remaining matches.”

Thunder, who included former Team Bath Super League stars Imogen Allison and Paige Reed in their starting line-up, have already booked their place in the play-offs but still need the points to secure a home semi-final and came out with all guns blazing.

They dominated the first quarter, forcing several errors and limiting the hosts to just 11 shots while Reed and GS Elmere van der Berg boasted a 100 per cent conversion rate at the other end as Thunder went into the break with a healthy 23-9 lead.

Sophie Kelly shoots for goal against Manchester Thunder

Francis had made a couple of positional changes during that quarter, introducing GA Kadeen Corbin and WD Lily-May Catling from the bench while moving Jayda Pechova and Tash Pavelin – both named this week in the Vitality Roses programme for 2024-25 – to GK and GD respectively.

Team Bath were working hard and producing some nice moments of play but there was no drop-off in Thunder’s relentless pressure as they stretched their half-time lead to 43-21.

Team Bath made wholesale changes for the third quarter as Sophie Kelly and Lisa Putt returned to court, while Emma Barrie and Kirsty Harris came on at GS and WA respectively. Thunder also made several changes, with Allison and Reed among the players taking to the bench.

It made for a much more competitive second half, with Kelly and Barrie dovetailing well in attack to produce several moments that had the crowd in full voice. Team Bath put together their best run of the game, a four-goal burst, and while Thunder responded in kind the visitors only edged a high-scoring third quarter 22-18.

That meant they took a 65-39 lead into a final quarter which again saw Team Bath put up a good battle, for which they were rewarded when Kelly brought up their half-century of goals in the final minute.

Pavelin was voted by the fans as winner of Team Bath’s Most Valuable Player Award, sponsored by Results Body+Mind, and received a bouquet, supplied by Flowers of Bath, from Team Bath Netball’s Franchise Manager Emily Siddy.

Next up for the Blue & Gold is their last home match of the season against Strathclyde Sirens on Friday 31st May. Centre-pass is 7.30pm and the game will be preceded by an end-of-season pizza party from 6-7pm. Purchase tickets online at https://netball.teambath.com/tickets.

Team Bath Netball is supported by Bath Building Society and Rengen Developments, who are both overall Team Bath Partners. Flyhawk supply Team Bath’s performance clothing and off-court apparel.

Match stats

Team Bath Netball starting combination: GS Sloan Burton, GA Sophie Kelly, WA Bethan Dyke, C Phoebe Maslen, WD Tash Pavelin, GD Jayda Pechova, GK Lisa Putt. Impact players: Emma Barrie, Kadeen Corbin, Lily-May Catling, Ellie Ervine, Kirsty Harris.

Manchester Thunder starting combination: GS Elmere van der Berg, GA Paige Reed, WA Lois Pearson, C Amy Carter, WD Imogen Allison, GD Shadine van der Merwe, GK Josie Huckle. Impact players: Kerry Almond, Ella Bowen, Taylor McKevitt, Natalie Metcalf, Anya Williams.

Quarter scores (Team Bath first): Q1 9-23. Q2 21-43 (12-20). Q3 39-65 (18-22). Q4 50-82 (11-17).

Attendance: 1,200.

Team Bath Fans’ MVP, sponsored by Results Body+Mind: Tash Pavelin.

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