The East Midlands premier netball team, Loughborough Lightning, is celebrating wins on both sides of the globe this week after victories in the Co-operative Superleague and the World Championships in New Zealand.
The team was keen to bounce back quickly after its defeat against Northumbria in the Superleague last weekend and did so by a convincing 67-28 margin in this Saturdays (10 November) game, away to Northern Thunder.
Lightning made a quick and confident start with Kara Luck, Vicky Percy and Olivia Murphy turning over numerous interceptions. The fluency in attack had also returned with feeders able to find Goal Shooter Alex Astle with ease. An air of confidence grew as the quarter progressed resulting in a 22-9 lead at quarter time.
Changes to the Thunder squad in the second quarter, attempting to nullify the threat of Astle, worked well and the Lightning feeds became less accurate, inflating Thunder’s confidence. However, the Lightning defence continued to pressurise Thunder’s inexperienced attack, forcing them into untimely errors.
Thunder again made changes all over the court for the third quarter, in an effort to stem the flow of Lightning’s pressure. Play began untidily with both teams making unforced errors but as the quarter progressed Lightning asserted their authority once again with some quick and intelligent interplay and all Lightning shooters maintaining an 80% plus average.
The final quarter of the game was intensely competitive with Thunder turning up their defensive pressure. Kate Murphy shone as Wing Defence for Lightning with her immense work rate and numerous intercepts. Kara Luck was named Lightning man of the match and coach Olivia Murphy was really pleased with the team’s performance:
“It was really important for us to bounce back after last weeks defeat and the attitude of the girls was excellent. This also gave some girls an opportunity on court to impress which they definitely took.”
Lightning’s success didn’t end there with three players currently performing well in the Netball World Championships in Auckland. Day two of the Championships saw three Lightning players, Jade Clarke, Ama Agbeze and Becky James in action.
James was on song for Wales contributing 36 goals as they over came a spirited Botswana team 54-35. This was an important win for Wales as they prepare for Monday's (12 November) game against reigning World Champs, New Zealand.
England's opening match against Barbados saw both Jade Clarke and Ama Agbeze in the starting line up. With both players having to battle through hand injuries to be declared fit for the tournament it was great news for England that they are able to play.
England's performance was fantastic, clocking up 86 goals from 105 attempts against a shell-shocked Barbados defence. Barbados is not one of the stronger teams in the tournament but a shooting rate of 1.6 shots per min is superb play against any opposition. Clarke looked exceptionally sharp in the England mid-court whilst Agbeze was dominant in the defensive circle, helping restrict Barbados to just 32 goals.
The New Zealand media is very aware of the threat England pose in this tournament and this weekend’s performance would have heightened expectations that they are a threat to Southern Hemisphere dominance of the world game and it looks as though Lightning's players will be in the thick of the battle.
The next Loughborough Lightning Superleague game is on Monday 26 November at home against last season’s winners, Team Bath. It is sure to be an exciting game and tickets are selling fast so get one quick to make sure you don’t miss out.
Tickets are available in advance on the ticket hotline, Tel: 01509 226250, or through the website: www.loughboroughlightning.com or on the door (depending on availability) at the Sir David Wallace Sports Hall. At £5 a ticket for adults and £3 for concessions, the game works out as a bargain priced night out for all.
photos Janos Schmidt