Manchester Thunder have been crowned the Vitality Netball Superleague champions for 2019!
After a thrilling 60 minutes of netball, full of twists and turns, it was Thunder who prevailed in a tightly-contested final against back-to-back champions Wasps Netball.
The defending champions took the lead on multiple occasions but the tenacity, skill and commitment of the Thunder players ensured that they took home their third Vitality Netball Superleague title.
Wasps Netball started the game at a ferocious pace and took a five-goal lead in the opening quarter. However, the Black and Yellows grew into the game with an exceptional second quarter taking it 11–18 to make the score 27–29 at the half-time interval.
The second half replicated the first with Wasps making an exceptional start to the third quarter, eventually taking it 18–10 and going into the fourth quarter it was 45–39 to Mel Mansfield’s side.
It ultimately came down to the wire as the fourth quarter proved decisive with the soon-to-be champions putting on a show for their fans.
Liana Leota was, at times, unplayable and the steady head of Caroline O’Hanlon was key to her team’s progress.
Emma Dovey and the retiring Kerry Almond put in a performance worthy of champions, limiting Wasps’ attack and causing a number of turnovers from which they could launch the attacks that would win the game.
A brilliant start for Thunder looked like it could be halted when the Sky Netball Fans’ Player of the Year Joyce Mvula had to go off injured. However, up stepped Vitality Rose Ellie Cardwell.
Coming into the game so late could have phased her, but it didn’t. Cardwell spearheaded the attack and Thunder’s comeback with a calmness beyond her years.
Thunder took the final quarter 7–18 and with it secured their third Vitality Netball Superleague title – their first since 2014, when Helen Housby scored a last-second winner to beat Surrey Storm.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Player of the Match Emma Dovey said: “We just said the team that wants it more will win this game and we showed in the last quarter how much we wanted it”.
Wasps Head Coach Mel Mansfield remarked: “We can’t take anything away from Thunder, they were clinical in the final quarter.”
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