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MATCH REPORT | Saracens Mavericks 46-70 Manchester Thunder (NSL Rd 8)

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Shawbrook Shawbrook
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It may have been Saracens Mavericks’ big day at OVO Arena Wembley, but it was Manchester Thunder who won out at the iconic venue to continue their charge at the top of the league.

On the day that the Netball Super League was played at the arena for the first time, it was the visitors who started the fastest, as they raced into a six-goal lead after pouncing on some early nerves from Mavericks.

Camilla Buchanan’s side roared back into life though after a superbly taken goal from Ine-Mari Venter, with the South African quickly adding a second to close the gap.

A crucial intervention from Ellie Rattu kept things ticking over for her side too, before Emma Thacker netted one from long distance to start to pull her side back into the contest.

Thunder are a champion side though and they showcased why they are the team to beat this season with poise and composure across the court, to take themselves out to a five-goal lead at the end of the first quarter.

After a slow start, Mavericks needed to respond at the start of the second period, but it was the Mancunians who continue to fire the attacking shots, as the Mavericks defence struggled to live with the pressure and speed of the Thunder attack.

With Kira Rothwell now on court, Mavericks were looking to keep the play going and the replacement Goal Shooter showed several lovely touches to allow Venter to continue to add the scores for her side.

Mavericks were looking to switch things up in both attack and defence but wherever they looked to pass, there seemed to be a yellow wall standing in their way.

It was going to take something special to pull things back for the side and they continued to harry and press, with Indya Masser and Georgia Lees working hard to find a way around the Thunder defence.

It was hard going at times, but Rothwell, Venter and Thacker continued to work in tandem around the attacking circle to pull themselves back into things.

With Ellie Rattu looking to speed up the play having moved into Centre too, Mavericks started to burst into life with a flurry of goals before Thunder hit back instantly to continue to extend their advantage.

Heading into the final quarter, Thunder continued to pull away on the scoreboard, with Mavs shuffling their defensive third to allow Aliyah Zaranyika to make her way back onto the court.

With time ticking away, Mavericks showed some serious heart and determination in the final quarter, roared on by a vociferous Wembley crowd of well in excess of 2500.

Thunder though are a side that don’t give an inch when they get themselves into a lead and they continued to extend their advantage, despite the best efforts of Razia Quashie and Jodie Gibson in the circle.

Venter continued to find pockets of space in the attacking third, as she fought for every inch out on court, but by this point, it was too much of an ask for Mavs to pull themselves back into the contest.

Superb defensive work from Gibson continued to help her side, with Venter doing the rest down the attacking end of the court to close the gap, with replacements Anna Fairclough and Britney Clarke making an impact in the final minutes, but in the end, Thunder were just too strong on the day.

This Thunder team will take some stopping this season on this evidence, but for Mavericks, they will be buoyed by the heart and grit that they showed throughout the second half, as they head into a flurry of matches on the road.


The Interview | Zoe Harrison

It’s hard to find a player who is as confident and comfortable on the ball as Zoe Harrison. The Red Roses fly-half is a player who always seems to have an extra second whenever she gets her hands on the ball; assessing where the space is and whether the best option is to kick, run […]

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City Index City Index

Saracens Women at 35 | Emma Mitchell Interview

A founding member of Saracens Women and the starting scrum-half for England in the 1994 World Cup final victory over the USA. Emma Mitchell is and will always remain a barometer with which to measure the ability of a scrum-half against. Playing alongside her twin sister Jane for both club and country, the Mitchell’s were […]

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MATCH REACTION | Camilla Buchanan (NSL Rd 15)

Head Coach Camilla Buchanan admitted that a third quarter dip cost her side, as they suffered a narrow defeat to play-off chasing Severn Stars. Despite winning two quarters, Mavericks came unstuck after half-time, with Buchanan explaining that that was ultimately the difference between the two sides. “The third quarter was the issue. We can’t lose […]

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