Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Storm Rumble as Thunder Crumble

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Monday 11 March 2013 at the Surrey Sports Park
Surrey Storm 62 Manchester Thunder 44
Superleague – the top tier of netball in England
Second netball venue, which is the same as that used for basketball by the Surrey Heat.  However, not the first venue in which I have seen two different sports – that honour went to the Madejski Stadium, Reading (football and rugby union).
Pre-match preparation
The games between these two sides last season were epics, hence my choice. Both teams have a 3-1 record – Storm lost by a point at Yorkshire Jets in their last outing, which was something of a surprise.  Thunder have a certain Tracey of the Neville sporting dynasty as director of netball.
This match in one sentence
Thunder edged the first few minutes before the teams ended all square at the interval, but then Storm blew their opponents off the court with a third quarter demolition and a stunning 18-point margin of victory.
So what?
Storm overtake Thunder in the table and join Team Bath (the only team to defeat Thunder so far) with a 4-1 record.
The drama unfolds
First signs were not great for Storm. They found themselves 2-6 and 4-9 down to some clinical Thunder play, and contributed to their situation with a number of unforced errors.  They clawed their way back to a two-point deficit at the end of the first quarter, with GA Ash Neal catching the eye as GS Rachel Dunn saw less of the ball than usual.  11-13 at the end of the 1st quarter

Here’s a scene-setter clip from early in the second, as Storm start to perform and they get back to 16-16.  You will detect from these clips that I am with one of Storm’s best and noisiest young supporters!  Top work, Ed.  Storm are in blue.

For my second-time visit to a top netball game, I made more of an effort to watch the tactics and the movement.  Here are 100 seconds in the life of a netball Centre, Storm’s Becky Trippick.

The crowd reaction tells you that the teams are trading scores and we finish level at the half-way mark.  23-23 at the end of the 2nd quarter

With TV cameras present (this goes out on Thursday), the match was shaping up into the close encounter that everyone expected.  For about another 5 minutes.  Dunn was now firing on all cylinders and Neal continued to impress.  Here are two minutes of GS Dunn, but of course Neal is featured too.

It’s 32-30 and Storm have edged into the lead … and then suddenly it was 37-31 and 41-31 as they stepped up a gear and Thunder could not respond. Dunn was now scoring for fun with a near-flawless conversion rate now.  Thunder reorganised, and used a timeout, but they were rattled and down by 11 at the next break.  44-33 at the end of the 3rd quarter

Other than a brief period of scrappy play in the fourth, Storm never looked like losing their grip.  I took a couple of clips of Ash Neal at work, though Dunn is scoring heavily at these points too.  For my untutored eyes, Ash Neal was player of the match overall.  The local experts gave that honour to WD Natalie Seaton.

It finished 62-44.  That is an 18-point margin in a match that was expected to be close.  Whatever the Storm coaching staff said at half-time should be put on motivational posters with pictures of kittens or something.  Facebook loves that stuff.  Final score 62-44

Ashleigh Neal, Storm's GA, in the blue 
The programme

Mars Bar Watch 2013
At BP Wisley North on the A3, a standard 58g bar cost 85p.  I should be outraged really, but I am in such a good mood because of this £1 off cheese voucher picked up at the game.  Awesome.

What Next?
No idea really.  Regular followers on Twitter will know that I am shortly changing jobs and heading back into the secondary school sector with a new challenge, back in the classroom full-time after Easter.  The next few weeks will be very busy and hopping decisions are likely to be last-minute.  Follow @GrahamYapp and be among the first to know, and maybe even help make the decisions.  I shall watch some more netball sometime – athletes performing with both pace and skill in a game in which there is respect for officials, and the ideals of sportsmanship are embedded into the way it all works.  No wonder the school parties are here in force. #letsgostorm is what I say.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent blog Graham! Make sure you come back to Surrey Sports Park to see us soon!