Netball

Thunder win twice to secure semi spot

About 300 spectators returned to the Copperbox for rounds 17 and 18 of the Superleague

Manchester Thunder secured a place in the Netball Superleague semi-finals with back-to-back wins, leaving four teams vying for the final spot.

Thunder beat Severn Stars 55-43 and Surrey Storm 57-41 to join Bath and Loughborough Lightning in progressing.

Wasps hold fourth place going into their final two matches – the first of which is against fellow semi-final hopefuls Saracens Mavericks on Monday.

Leeds Rhinos and Strathclyde Sirens are also in contention for a top-four spot.

The Sirens lost 48-37 to Bath in their first match of the weekend, but recovered to beat the Mavericks 41-35 and move up to fifth in the table.

The Rhinos are sixth after losing 59-51 to Lightning – who also beat Celtic Dragons 59-35 this weekend – and the Mavericks complete the top seven.

On Friday, Bath began their weekend with a 45-32 victory over Severn Stars, and London Pulse inflicted a 52-30 defeat on Dragons, who remain bottom, to secure their fourth win of the season.

Game of the week – Saracens Mavericks 35-41 Strathclyde Sirens

Saracens Mavericks v Strathclyde Sirens
Sirens and Mavericks drew 34-34 last time the two sides met

Given how tight the scrap is for top-four places, both teams may have viewed this as ‘must-win’.

It was the Sirens who held their composure and moved up to fifth as the Mavericks slipped further down the table. They do have four games to play, though – more than any other side in the league.

The Sirens started well and were three goals to the good at half-time, as captain Gia Abernethy linked defence with attack well. Youngster Emma Barrie missed only three shots all game, contributing 24 of her team’s points.

The Mavericks, who last featured in a semi-final in 2016, struggled to find the answers – head coach Kat Ratnapala said her side were “not good enough” and blamed a lack of consistency for their league position.

Her Sirens counterpart Karen Atkinson described her side as “fearless”, and said at the start of the season “no-one would expect us to be anywhere near top four”.

Results & fixtures

Round 17 & 18

Friday, 28 May

Celtic Dragons 30-52 London Pulse

Severn Stars 32-45 Team Bath

Saturday, 29 May

Loughborough Lightning 59-35 Celtic Dragons

Manchester Thunder 55-43 Severn Stars

Strathclyde Sirens 37-48 Team Bath

Sunday, 30 May

Loughborough Lightning 59-51 Leeds Rhinos

Saracens Mavericks 35-41 Strathclyde Sirens

Manchester Thunder 57-41 Surrey Storm

Monday, 31 May

Leeds Rhinos v Surrey Storm (17:15 BST)

Saracens Mavericks v Wasps (19:15 BST)

Team Played Won Lost Draw For Against Goal Difference Points
Team Bath 18 17 1 0 880 647 233 51
Loughborough Lightning 18 16 2 0 984 708 276 48
Manchester Thunder 18 15 3 0 972 748 224 45
Wasps 18 10 7 1 812 724 88 31
Strathclyde Sirens 18 9 7 2 734 746 -12 29
Leeds Rhinos 17 9 8 0 835 817 18 27
Saracens Mavericks 16 8 7 1 714 709 5 25
London Pulse 17 4 13 0 646 720 -74 12
Severn Stars 18 3 15 0 653 877 -224 9
Surrey Storm 17 2 15 0 662 838 -176 6
Celtic Dragons 17 1 16 0 602 960 -358 3

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