Lauren Potter: Pride in defeat as the Jets push champions Thunder all the way

Natalie Haythornthwaite
Natalie Haythornthwaite
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Our third Superleague match in six days culminated in a nail-biting Battle of the Roses against last year’s winners, and current top of the table side, Manchester Thunder.

Everyone at Jets was delighted to play our first match of the season back at our original home ground at Leeds Beckett’s Headingley campus.

The sell-out crowd was on top form and I wouldn’t be surprised if they heard us down the road at the Rhinos match!

We certainly gave them an exciting game to watch right from the first whistle, taking Thunder by surprise and the lead by several goals.

However, after a timeout and no doubt a stern talking to by their coach Tracey Neville, Thunder came back on court meaning business and leading at quarter time 12-11.

The Jets team remained unchanged in the second quarter with Thunder making the first of three changes to their shooting combination throughout the game.

The intensity in play continued, both sides relentless in defence resulting in non-stop end to end action and a hard-fought draw in the second quarter.

The half-time scoreboard now stood at 25-24. Nikala Smith and Steph Wilson were seamlessly substituted in to our Jets side in the second half, Nikala particularly impressing the crowd with her spectacular shooting from the edge of the circle!

Thunder, meanwhile, brought on Jodie Gibson in defence to try and slow down the continual stream of feeds into Timmy Cato.

Despite great netball from both teams, Thunder took a four-goal lead going into the last quarter.

Meg Clark came to my rescue in the last quarter, taking the goal defence bib, as I have to admit I was somewhat fatigued having played against three different fresh legged goal attacks!

I was delighted to see that the girls were not going to give in and let Thunder take the win easily.

Tuaine Keenan made a great interception at one point which could have taken the difference back to one goal but unfortunately we did not capitalise on this.

Thunder persisted with their physical defence and the match ended with a Thunder win 54-51.

Despite the loss I will fondly remember this match, particularly the toss-up between Timmy Cato and Thunder’s keeper, Kerry Almond in the final quarter. An umpire calls a toss-up if both players are perceived to simultaneously breach the rules or if the umpire isn’t sure who had possession of the ball.

Timmy was adamant that the ball should have been hers and no toss-up was going to get between her and putting in another shot. The crowd roared with delight as she claimed the ball and quickly slotted away another goal.

Quick reactions were not something the crowd was expecting from someone who towers at 6ft6!

Timmy used to play for Celtic Dragons and so I have faced her on many occasions.

The first time I played Timmy I made the mistake of accidently stepping on her toes (she does have rather large feet!).

Timmy warned me that if I did that again she might have to sort me out off the court as well as on it! So, it’s fair to say that I was slightly bemused when I found out Jets had signed Timmy for this season.

I had no reason to worry though as it turns out when Timmy is on your team she is in fact a gentle giant and the team clown.

Her twerking in the changing room before every match has the team howling!

No doubt Timmy will be pivotal in our next match as we travel down to Bath, who suffered a heavy 17-goal defeat to Hertfordshire Mavericks, on Friday. This is a really important match for Jets, as a win would help us greatly in our push for play-offs!