Thunder’s game with old rivals Essex Leopards looked, on paper, to be potentially a very tough match up. The first half proved to be as expected as the Big Cats put the Thunder under continuous pressure from the start. At the centre of Thunder’s problems was ex-Hemel Storm, 7ft forward Lee Hodges, who caused no end of problems in the first twenty minutes. In a messy first period, the scores went back and forth as the teams sized each other up trading baskets. At the first break it was the home side who led by 4 points (24-20).