Thunder win 2023 Fast Five
It was Manchester Thunder who successfully beat Team Bath to become Fast 5 2023 winners at the Copperbox.
Manchester Thunder have won the 2023 Fast5 Netball All-Stars Championship beating defending champions Team Bath in the final at the Copper Box Arena, London live on Sky Sports.
Team Bath led by a strong line-up that saw nine of their 2023 Netball Super League campaign come together were buoyed with plenty of Fast5 experience as they looked to keep hold of their title with two wins taking them through to the semi-finals unscathed first of all with an opening match win over Surrey Storm 23-16 before a last gasp winner from Sophie Kelly saw off Manchester Thunder to avoid an extra match to reach the final four.
In game 6, 2021 finalists Saracens Mavericks were looking to rewrite history and claim the title for the first time whilst their opponents Leeds Rhinos put on one of the displays of the opening ties as they took apart NSL finalists London Pulse in their opening contest with Paige Reed playing a starring role.
In the match-up for the second semi-final spot, the Mavericks showed their tactical nouse in the competition like few others do with an incredible power play period which saw them storm from 18-9 down to 31-21 upfront with an incredible long bomb from Kira Rothwell who took matters into their own hands for ten points and to leave Rhinos with a mountain to climb with only three minutes left on the clock.
Surrey Storm and Strathclyde Sirens both lost their opening encounters meaning one more loss and they would be heading out of the competition whilst one would have another shot to reach the semi-finals. For Mikki Austin’s Storm it wasn’t to be whilst Rachel Dunn starred as Sirens came through to set up a tie with Thunder to reach the semi-finals.
Thunder battled through a tough encounter that had it all against Sirens to book their semi-final berth with Star player loan Gabby Sinclair coming in clutch for a massive 10-pointer during their golden buzzer period to level up at 29-29. Prior to Sinclair’s golden moment, it was Dunn’s day as it so often is in Fast5 with the former winner underlining just why she is so coveted in the competition as she turned out as Sirens’ star player. The long bombs were out of this world but it proved to not be enough for the Scottish side to progress to the semi-final stage.
Home favourites Pulse came unstuck against a gritty Rhinos performance for the final semi-final spot in a tight contest that went all the way to the final moments in a 24-23 loss as the latter reached their first-ever semi-final.
Into the semi-finals, Thunder dominated the opening contest against Mavericks who were left trailing in their wake by Sinclair who underlined her star title as well as leading NSL All Star GS for 2023 Mary Cholhok with her star power as Manchester triumphed 26-14.
Rhinos faced a stiff task to reach the final with defending champions Team Bath on the rampage towards back-to-back finals in what promised to be an electric contest. Kelly was proving they are more than adept to the Fast5 platform with the Roses Academy star scoring a vital 10-pointer during power play to give Bath an unassailable lead at 37-14 and reach their second final in as many years.
In the final, Bath found that Thunder just had too much firepower with MVP Sinclair showcasing just why she was one of the stars on Thunder’s side. It was a one-way contest as Thunder kept racking up the points during normal play and during their powerplay for an impressive title-winning performance, their first in Fast5 Netball All-Stars in the biggest win of the night 51-9.
Manchester Thunder Director of Netball Karen Greig said: “We’ve been waiting for this for years and our record hasn’t been great and we’ve said we will go one better. Over the competition, we’ve gelled well. We played some mind games with the buzzer. Overall we’ve played great. I am really proud of the girls and a fabulous way to end the season. Fast5 is such an unpredictable game so when you have shooters firing it really helps. I want to thank Celtic Dragons and Loughborough Lightning for allowing Gabby (Sinclair) and Mary (Cholhok) to play for us today.”
MVP Sinclair said: “I just love playing. It’s all about the rhythm, get it and shoot it. The team has been so welcoming. I think we have gelled really well today as a group.”