Match report: Surrey Storm 55-57 Northern Thunder
Around 950-1000 people packed into the SportHouse in Dagenham this evening to watch the league’s top two sides battle it out for glory. Following their past meetings this season a classic game was on the cards, and it certainly didn’t fail to deliver.
Storm began the game with a familiar line-up. Holland, Reid and Seaton completed the defence which had been formidable throughout the season. Captain Trippick has been ever present in the centre and kept her place in the side. Greenway, Dunn and Cookey have proved all year why they are the preferred England attack and were set to show Thunder what they were made of today.
As if fans were not aware of the spectacle they were about to witness, the opening minutes were an example of what was to come. Thunder opened the scoring but some early interceptions for Trippick and Seaton meant that Storm were allowed to just about edge it with the lead in the first 5 minutes.
The sides were well matched on court as well as on paper but it didn’t take long for Thunder to stamp authority on the game. With 5 left on the clock in the first quarter Thunder took a 3 point lead as they made the most of Storm errors, despite effective play in the final 3rd of the court. Storm are not a team to give up lightly though and Dunn netted 4 in a row to fight back and give Surrey a 14-13 lead after the first 15 minutes.
The 2nd quarter began in the same fashion as the first- Thunder taking the first goal but Storm not allowing them to pull away with an excessive lead. At 17-17 the game was in full flow with end-to-end netball, until Dunn misses a shot under the net allowing Thunder to turnover. Thankfully for Storm their opposition’s stride has halted early to as Thunder’s Kerry Almond left the court due to an injury.
Dunn stole the Storm show in the first quarter but it was Cookey’s turn to net her share of goals, scoring 5 in a row which allowed the girls to keep Thunder in check. The majority of the 2nd quarter played out with both sides shooting well and missing few chances. With 1 minute left on the clock until the half time break neither team was able to make a breakthrough and build a significant lead. Greenway and Trippick were working the ball well on the edge of the D allowing Cookey and Dunn to freely move and receive passes. Despite this Thunder were a little sharper on the attack and took a 25-28 lead into the half time break.
Storm came out all guns blazing in the 2nd half in an attempt to take some control over the game. But Thunder were not prepared to let happen and forced Storm into a few early mistakes in the quarter. With 9 minutes left Storm managed to pull the game back to 32-32 but were preventing themselves from creating a lead by a string of frustrating passing errors across the court. Despite this it did look like a routine was forming in getting the ball forward from the centre pass, allowing Dunn to score on demand. Reid made two key interceptions in a row and Storm took the quarter 15-14, but still found themselves 40-42 down on the scoreboard.
It was literally all to play for in the final quarter. Storm fans were dreaming of a repeat of their famous come back at Surrey Sports Park in April and the air was full of hope for the same to occur. 2 minutes into the quarter and it looked promising for Storm as they pulled the scores level at 42-42 thanks to a turnover from Greenway and a perfect feed to the eager Dunn. The story remained the same through to 46-all and 10 minutes remaining on the clock.
There were murmurs from some fans suggesting that the game could go into extra time. If the action so far was anything to go by that was probably a fair bet. That was until Thunder found a 6th gear in their engine and threw everything but the kitchen sink at Storm. Storm made consecutive errors in the centre of the court and Thunder developed a 5 point lead. Holland left the court to be replaced by Bello, meaning Seaton was forced to move to WD. With 5 minutes left on the clock Storm started to overcome that very brief period of Thunder pressure and brought it back to 51-53 when Cookey launched herself onto the touch line to hook a stray pass back into the hands of Dunn to score.
But it sadly was just not to be for Storm. Time ran out for another comeback and they were forced to settle for a 55-57 defeat. An almost flawless final quarter for Thunder was the deciding factor in the end and the trophy makes the journey north, leaving Surrey Storm empty handed once again.
A special shout out of appreciation goes to the travelling Storm fans this weekend who were behind the team all the way. The atmosphere at the SportHouse was nothing short of amazing this evening and the players are very appreciative of the encouragement given throughout this weekend and the whole season!
Storm starting line-up:
GS - Dunn
GA - Cookey
WA - Greenway
C - Trippick
WD - Seaton
GD - Holland
GK - Reid
Thunder starting line-up:
GS - Greig
GA - Lawson
WA - Cobden
C - Bayman
WD - Malcolm
GD - Dovey
GK - Almond
Storm: Dunn: 35/41 - 85%, Cookey: 20/23 - 87%, Team: 55/64 - 86%
Thunder: Greig: 24/28 - 86%, Lawson: 33/39 - 85%, Team: 57/67 - 85%