Thunder’s fine form down to team ethic

THE battle for this season’s Plate prize reached an early conclusion on a thrilling Tuesday night for the Premier Division’s four ‘underdog’ teams.

Hayley Brehaut earned player-of-the-match honours for Thunder against Zebras this week. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 27152219)
Hayley Brehaut earned player-of-the-match honours for Thunder against Zebras this week. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 27152219)

As Thunder extended their excellent late-season run by striking down Zebras 50-44 at Les Beaucamps, Resolution IT Black edged Blaze B 57-56 in a brilliant to-the-wire contest at the Grammar School.

The upshot of Thunder’s victory is that they have won the Plate – contested between the four lowest-standing ‘Prem’ teams after last month’s league split – a week early.

Zebras entered with the potential of ending Thunder’s four-game winning streak and putting themselves in a position to contest the consolation prize.

They had initially been on a promising path to achieving this.

Zebras’ solid defence applied constant pressure to the Thunder attackers and the eventual winners had struggled to find their scoring initially, lagging 21-27 at half-time.

But some changes to Thunder’s seven granted them renewed energy and they surged clear in the third quarter, which ended 39-35.

Thunder wing-attack Hayley Brehaut and Zebras centre Jo Jehan took player-of-the-match honours.

But such was the quality of the team performance that Dawn Browning, who forms a coaching duo with on-court daughter Sophie, was loath to name outstanding individuals.

‘We knew what we had to do and admittedly on occasions made very hard work of it, but we had the options within the squad to mix it up and that has made the difference during this Plate competition,’ she said.

‘Everybody, without exception, made a valuable contribution to the final result.’

Concurrently at Grammar, Rezzers Black had to fight to the final whistle to win their battle of the B teams against the Blaze U16s.

A hot start put Blaze B six clear at the quarter en route to holding a 27-25 advantage at half-time.

The sharp shooting of Blaze’s ‘PoM’ Alicia Bailey counteracted the fine goalkeeping of Jade Queripel, who took the nomination for the eventual winners, but Rezzers soon turned it around.

Rezzers reached the final stanza 45-38 up and had led by 11 goals at one advanced point.

But Blaze mounted a remarkable comeback and had been just about to shoot a potential equaliser when the whistle arrived.

Among the top ‘Prem’ teams, Rezzers Green’s 51-62 loss to the Island Men has done nothing to prevent their imminent receipt of the league prize.

Rezzers tempered a match-long deficit with a 17-goal haul in the final quarter but the scalp evaded them, their goalkeeper Abby McCracken and opposition goal-shooter Josh Norman taking player honours.

Second-placed Titans gained some walkover points from 2019 champions Blaze A, who have called time on their season early due to injury issues.

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