Leeds Rhinos Netball 47 Manchester Thunder 66 - Defending champions complete double over Rhinos
For the second time this season, Leeds Rhinos were defeated by defending Superleague champions and northern derby rivals Manchester Thunder, losing 66-47 at Studio 001 on Monday night.
Head coach Dan Ryan had more strength on his bench as he was able to choose from a full squad. Rhinos lost three players to injury in round two, so to Ryan’s delight he finally had a variety of fit and healthy players to pick from.
Fi Toner was warmly welcomed back to the court after sustaining an Achilles injury in the early stages of the league season.
Leeds' starting seven included Donnell Wallam - who returned to the court after picking up a radius injury in Friday’s match-up against Team Bath - and had some adjustments in their defensive end, with Tuaine Keenan starting as goalkeeper.
As the first quarter opened, Leeds remained level-headed thanks to Jade Clarke and Rhea Dixon’s fearlessness when driving the ball straight into the circle without having to step into the goal third, maintaining the game goal for goal.
Currently sitting in fourth place in the table, Manchester Thunder worked hard as a defensive unit to tackle all 6ft 2in of Wallam, who dominated the circle for the Rhinos scoring all 11 goals in the first quarter.
However, the hosts couldn’t maintain the pressure, slowly allowing Thunder to capitalise meaning Leeds soon trailed by four goals.
Ellie Cardwell, England Roses' goal-shooter/attacker made it difficult for the Rhinos to close the deficit, partnering with Joyce Mvula in Thunder’s attacking end, making Vicki Oyesola and Keenan scramble.
A composed and fluid Thunder side began to widen the gap by 10 goals as the Rhinos struggled to find a clear path to Wallam, giving Thunder every opportunity to run away with the game.
Ryan stuck to his guns and kept his team the same in the final quarter, however could not pull the game back despite their best efforts. Thunder continued to cement their dominance and walked away with a whopping 66 goals to the Rhinos' 47.