Malawian netball star’s team win UK title

Malawian netball star Joyce Mvula’s team Manchester Thunder on Sunday won the UK Vitality Netball Super League with unprecedented run of 22 wins by beating Loughborough Lightning 60-53.

The Malawian shooter, who has won an incredible Player of the Match awards in the campaign, contributed 34 baskets to the team’s 60-53 win over Loughborough Lightning.

She took to social media to express her joy, saying : “Undefeated Champions. 22 Games. 22 straight Wins. It can only be God. Manchester Thunder, after Lightning and Thunderstorms, We came on top! Pure joy. We did it Team.”

The former Blue Eagles players was also credited for the victory, according to BBC.

“But Thunder oozed class as the five-time finalists showed their experience to shut down Lightning’s attempted overthrow, with Natalie Metcalf, Eleanor Cardwell and Joyce Mvula leading from the front as they have done all season,” reports BBC.

While Skysports states that: “: In the circle, Joyce Mvula and Eleanor Cardwell rewarded almost every pass that came to them. In 60 minutes of netball, Thunder’s shooters each missed just one goal.”

According to BBC, Manchester Thunder completed a perfect unbeaten season by winning the Superleague title, beating last year’s champions Loughborough Lightning 60-53.

Lightning struggled to recover from a distressing injury to shooter Ella Clark inside the opening two minutes.

A composed Thunder maintained their lead throughout, despite a period of Lightning resurgence, at the Copper Box Arena to claim a fourth title.

Head coach Karen Greig said she felt “pure joy” after the success.

Thunder started strongly and won back the ball on the first centre pass to open a slim early lead.

But a serious injury to Clark meant she was taken off court in a wheelchair after an awkward fall. They were scenes all too familiar to Lightning, who had seen mid-courter Beth Cobden carried off with an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the 2018 Grand Final.

Clark’s departure affected the mood at the arena, but Thunder kept cool heads to take a 20-8 lead in the first quarter.

Victoria Burgess, in her first season as Lightning head coach, was clearly emotional after the game as she told how she tried to keep the team positive and give them “things to focus on” under difficult circumstances.

Thunder were without South African goal defence Shadine van der Merwe through injury, but youngster Millie Sanders held her own.

Lightning’s attack did manage to settle enough to prevent the score from completely blowing out before half-time.

Their other shooter, Ugandan powerhouse Mary Cholhok, was then sidelined with an injury in the third quarter, but returned a few minutes later after some quick medical attention.

Lightning, whose only two losses this season were against Thunder, had a period of resurgence in the third quarter.

A raucous crowd seemed to favour Loughborough and Clark also returned to the bench on crutches to cheer her side on.

Losses of possession and mistakes made for uncomfortable viewing for the Thunder bench as head coach Greig and assistant Tracey Neville barked orders onto the court.

With the deficit reduced to seven heading into the final quarter, Lightning were reinvigorated.

Lightning’s tenacity made for a frantic final minute, but the damage had ultimately already been done as Cardwell slotted the final shot and jubilation followed among the Thunder players, staff and their travelling fans.

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