Loughborough Lightning have extended their undefeated record in The Co-operative Netball Superleague with a 62-48 win over University rivals Leeds Carnegie at home on Saturday (7 February).
The win consolidates Lightning’s second spot in the table with 10 out of 11 wins, behind Bath who are undefeated at the top of the table and in front of Mavericks who have won nine of their fixtures so far.
After establishing an early four goal lead, Lightning allowed Leeds back in the game and they drew level within the first five minutes. Loughborough worked hard to create space and improve timing in the goal third to counteract the tight man-to-man Leeds defence. The work paid off and Lightning had established a 17-13 lead at first break.
Alex Kirk replaced Lisa Stephenson at goal attack at the start of the second quarter, after a broken wrist had forced her out of action for six weeks. Lightning experienced a few minutes of initial uncertainty, but the team quickly settled with the new combination. Goal keeper Hannah Reid turned over crucial ball to keep Lightning in the game.
However Leeds, lead by goal attack Amanda Martin, were not to be outdone and consistently applied pressure across the court and converted their opportunities to narrowly winning the quarter and reduce the deficit at half time to 27-24.
The third quarter followed a similar pattern with Leeds making only one change; Rebecca White replacing Danny Bloomfield at wing attack. Lightning made several attempts at pulling away but Leeds were hot on their heels and never let Lightning out of their sight leaving a score of 43-38 going into the final quarter.
The start of the fourth quarter saw Lightning and Leeds go goal for goal. The young Lightning attack worked tirelessly in defence with vital turnovers which they were able to take calmly to the goal.
Lightning found an extra gear in the remaining five minutes of the match and punished a tired Leeds outfit, running away with the quarter and extending their lead to a more impressive 62-48.
Player of the match went to wing attack Natasha Hampshire for her vision and creativity in the Lightning attack.
“Our shooters worked really hard today trying to lose their defenders which made my job easier to find them,” she said.
Lightning now make the long Valentine’s Day trip north to play Glasgow Wildcats and are in action back at home against Team Northumbria on Monday 2 March at 7.30pm. For tickets and more information log onto www.loughboroughlightning.co.uk
Q1: 17-13, Q2: 10-11, Q3: 16-14, Q4: 19-10
17-13, 27-24 , 43-38 , 62-48
Jo Harten: 50/64, 78%
Lisa Stephenson: 2/3, 66%
Alex Kirk: 10/14, 71%