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Netball - 08. February 2011.

Fiat Netball Superleague- Team Bath v Loughborough Lightning

Following a strong start to their Fiat Superleague Campaign, Loughborough
Lightning’s progress had been halted against a strong Mavericks side at the
Netball Centre on Saturday. And the weekend got no easier for Lightning as
they found themselves facing last year’s champions Team Bath in a tough away
fixture on Monday 7th February. Unfortunately for Lightning, due to a
whirlwind start, Team Bath made it 3 out of 3 wins for the season, running
out 52-38 winners.

Despite feeling disappointed about Lightning’s performance on Saturday,
Murphy remained confident in her team, making few changes. Following an
impressive performance alongside Alex Sinclair in the defencive circle, Emma
Bliss replaced Afrika Morris at goal defence, and Becky James regained her
starting position. Murphy, again, started for the away side, her experience
proving to be a key ingredient in Lightning’s new season revival.

However, there was only one team in the game in the first six minutes, as
Bath came out of the blocks to take a 9-1 lead. Impressive shooting from
Kirsty Delves, and England’s Pamela Cookey left Lightning shell shocked.
However, with vocal support from Murphy and captain Jo Harten, Lightning did
not lie down and surrender. Murphy and Sophia Candappa started to link up
well in attack, and they started to claw back goals. However, despite an
impressive fightback, Lightning still went into at the break 6 goals behind.
Quarter time score 16-10.

The second quarter saw the introduction of Masego Moutang at Wing Attack, in
an attempt to inject pace and energy into the Lightning attack. And it was a
move that paid dividends, as she found space around the circle to put fast
balls into Harten and James. However, Bath remained solid, putting an
increasing amount of pressure on the Lightning shooters, reducing Lighting’s
their success rate. As a result, Bath extended their lead to 30-18 by half
time.

Both teams made changes at half time, with Bath introducing ex Lightning
player and student Katy Rose to their attack. Unfortunately for Lightning,
Rose continued the fine form she showed for them last season, starting
brightly. In an attempt to pose different problems for the Bath defence,
Murphy returned to centre, and Olivia Beveridge came on at goal shooter
following her brief debut against Mavericks. Afrika Morris was also
introduced at Goal Keeper in an attempt to use her presence to rock the
Mavericks shooters.

At last, Lightning’s attack appeared to flow. Morris’ influence made the
defence more solid, with Talissa Haynes working tirelessly to thwart Bath’s
supply into their shooters. Murphy and Moutang combined their experience and
youth brilliantly to bring the ball through the court, comfortably winning
the centre court battle for the first time in the game. Despite a valiant
fightback and winning the quarter, Team Bath still lead at the break 40-29.

Bath were clearly rocked at Lightning’s impressive third quarter, and to
ensure their resurgence was halted, they introduced their third goal shooter
of the game, Rosie Allison. Lightning failed to find the form they had found
in the third quarter, and as the tempo of the game dropped, Bath’s
experience shone through, as they took the game 52-38.

Despite their second defeat in two games, an impressive third quarter
performance showed the strides Lightning have made since last season.
However, Coach Murphy said that Lightning couldn’t afford to make such slow
starts.

‘We were definitely too slow off the mark today, and can’t afford to let
quality teams get off to such a flying start.

‘However, it gave us a chance to show the team spirit that we pride
ourselves on, and we never gave up and kept on coming back.

‘Similar to the Mavericks game, we need to cut out the vital mistakes when
we are on a roll.

We are learning from our mistakes with each game and we will get ourselves
back up and ready for Saturday’s game against Storm.’

Murphy and her team have recognised the key part the home fans have made in
their impressive start to the season. To help roar Lightning on this to
victory, come down to the netball centre this Saturday at 6pm, when they
face Surrey Storm. For tickets or more information, please visit
www.loughboroughlightning.co.uk.

Report by Kelly Somers

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