Netball Superleague Grand Final: Wasps v Manchester Thunder match preview

Wasps v Manchester Thunder
Wasps play Manchester Thunder in the Superleague Grand Final on Saturday

Ten teams are down to two, with Manchester Thunder and Wasps battling it out for the 2019 Netball Superleague title in Saturday's Grand Final.

Coventry-based Wasps are going for their third successive title, while two-time champions Thunder last won in 2014.

Team Bath and Loughborough Lightning play for third place at 15:00 BST before the Grand Final at 17:30.

Both games take place at the Copper Box Arena in London.

Head to head

They wear similar colours and have a number of current internationals among their ranks, but that is where the similarities end - and the rivalry begins.

The meetings between the two sides have been some of the most hotly contested matches since Wasps burst on to the Superleague scene in 2017.

Wasps - formed in partnership with their rugby union namesake - won the title in their debut season, and they are yet to see their crown slip.

But they have never met Thunder in a final before - and it's Thunder that have the bragging rights, having beaten Wasps twice already this season, home and away.

Yet Thunder's head coach Karen Greig says those wins count for nothing with the final being played on neutral ground and both teams "wiping the slate clean".

"We are back to blank," former England shooter Greig said.

Jade Clarke and Kathryn Turner

"We have a big job to do. We've seen Wasps put out a great performance in the semi-final against a tough Loughborough Lightning side."

Mel Mansfield's Wasps side are aiming to win an unprecedented third Superleague trophy.

"We will plan heavily tactically and try to enjoy the game," Mansfield said.

Who's in form?

Thunder head into the final on the back of inconsistent play, after unconvincingly beating Surrey Storm 60-55 in their final game of the regular season - but they will take confidence from their professional display in the semi-final against Team Bath, which they edged 57-54.

Meanwhile, Wasps have won their previous eight games, including their 74-54 demolition of Loughborough Lightning in the semi-final.

However, the last game the Black and Golds lost was against Thunder in a thriller, with the two-time champions triumphing by a single goal.

Can Thunder pull off a hat-trick of wins over Wasps in a single season? Or will Wasps take the sting out of their challengers?

Going for third: Loughborough Lightning v Team Bath

It's the game teams dread having to play. It means they've just missed out on a shot at the title, and coming third is scant consolation.

But traditionally these games in the Superleague are fiercely contested.

Loughborough Lighting will want to end head coach Sara Bayman's inaugural season at the helm on a high - and soften the blow of missing out on a third final in a row.

Former England centre Bayman said the semi-final loss to Wasps was a "game too far".

Bath coach Jess Thirlby, who is ending her 20-year involvement with the club at the end of the season, said her side needed "that extra 1%" in their game against a "clinical" Thunder.

Superleague table final standings 2019
*Severn Stars deducted three points for fielding an ineligible player
Manchester Thunder1914542
Team Bath1913639
Loughborough Lightning1913639
Saracens Mavericks1812636
*Severn Stars1871118
Celtic Dragons1861218
Surrey Storm1861218
Strathclyde Sirens183159
London Pulse182166

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