Netball Superleague: Thunder, Bath, Mavericks, Pulse & Sirens all win

By Denise EvansBBC Sport
Laura Malcolm
Laura Malcolm was player of the match in front of a record crowd for a Thunder home game

Manchester Thunder produced a sensational second-half comeback to beat Loughborough Lightning in the Superleague third round at Belle Vue.

An injury-hit Lightning looked set for a third straight win over the champions but Thunder, playing in front of a club home record 1,951 fans, won 67-54.

Unbeaten Thunder are level on points with Team Bath and London Pulse at the top of the table.

"Wow, my nerves are shot," Thunder head coach Karen Greig said.

"It certainly wasn't pretty but my team showed great resilience and unity to pull it back.

"Loughborough certainly brought it today, they spilled very little and made it hard for us."

The hosts found themselves 12 goals down midway through the third quarter following a stuttering attacking display, which was in contrast to a diligent and composed performance from Lightning.

Eight goals adrift heading into the fourth period, Thunder swiftly began chipping away at the lead, as a youthful Lightning - who were missing a number of experienced players including England's Natalie Panagarryexternal-link due to injury - began to crumble.

The Black and Yellows outscored the visitors 21-9 in the final period, with the calm heads of player-of-the match Laura Malcolm and Caroline O'Hanlon in the centre court key to the remarkable turnaround.

Two late intercepts from wing defence Amy Carter and defender Becky Airey and the flair of shooter Ellie Cardwell were also central to Thunder's fightback.

Lightning head coach Sara Bayman says the result is "pretty devastating" but that she will take "lots of the positives" and hopes her side's first-half performance will "be the catalyst" for the rest of the season.

"Thunder are a quality side but it was in our control and we have to learn from this so that next time we can close the game out," former England centre-courter Bayman said.

Wins for Mavericks, Team Bath and Sirens

Team Bath could barely believe what happened in their thrilling victory over last season's runners-up Wasps.

A 17-goal swing in the second half after going into half-time five goals adrift saw Bath shock the two-time champions 62-51 in their third-round tie and remain unbeaten for the season.

Saracens Mavericks bounced back from their tight away loss to Wasps in the previous round to beat Severn Stars 61-45, with England shooter George Fisher starring for the hosts.

In Glasgow, Strathclyde Sirens secured their first win of the campaign after fighting hard to beat Surrey Storm 61-53.

They were cheered on by tennis coach and former Fed Cup captain Judy Murray, who was delighted to meet Sirens mascot Serena...

In the final fixture of the round on Monday, London Pulse beat Celtic Dragons 69-38 to secure their third consecutive victory, which surpasses their total win tally of two from the whole of last season.

Dragons, who remain without a win, drop to the foot of the table.

Results & fixtures

Round three

Friday, 6 March

Strathclyde Sirens 61-53 Surrey Storm

Team Bath 62-51 Wasps

Saturday, 7 March

Saracens Mavericks 61-45 Severn Stars

Manchester Thunder 67-64 Loughborough Lightning

Monday, 9 March

London Pulse 69-38 Celtic Dragons

Vitality Netball Superleague table 2019
TeamPlayedWonLostForAgainstGoal DifferencePoints
Team Bath330206161459
London Pulse330173139349
Manchester Thunder330194175199
Saracens Mavericks321184151336
Strathclyde Sirens31216516503
Surrey Storm312147155-83
Loughborough Lightning312181192-113
Wasps Netball312163178-153
Severn Stars303150196-460
Celtic Dragons303133184-510

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