It was always going to be a tense match as there was a lot at stake for both teams. Lightning, having never beaten Bath away, needed to prove it’s worth as the current league leader, whilst TeamBath had to secure a win to keep its hopes of a top two finish alive.
The first few minutes of the game signalled just how physical the game was going to be, with both teams fighting to get their hands on the ball. Lightning managed to shade the early exchanges with the attacking trio of Hampshire (WA), Harten (GS) and James (GA) working overtime to create space and scoring opportunities. Clarke (WD) kept shutting down Bath’s Sasha Corbin (WA) and the home team started to struggle bringing their ball through court. By the end of the quarter Lightning had a 6 goal lead; 16-10, but the match was still anyone’s for the taking.
With the introduction of England international Jo Binns at the start of the second quarter, the TeamBath matchplan appeared more focused through the midcourt. However, Loughborough held firm with Jade Clarke and Olivia Murphy holding firm and preventing TeamBath from finding their shooters. Lightning took the second quarter 13-10, with England shooter Jo Harten remaining strong despite intense pressure from Beckford Chambers to take the lead: 29-20 at half time.
The home side is renowned for its grit and determination, and with the England trio of Bayman, Binns and Cookey driving the ball confidently through the attacking third and Beckford Chambers and Francis shutting down supply to the Loughborough shooters, TeamBath clawed its way back into the match. The champions took the third period 17-8; to leave the score level at 37 all with just 15 minutes of play to go.
With a large and partisan Bath crowd sensing the chance of a great victory they urged their team on and Lightning were under pressure. However, it is at moments like this that teams find out how strong they really are and collectively Lightning stepped up to meet the Bath challenge head on. The first minutes were nip and tuck exchanges with the score staying level but then Lightning took a couple of crucial interceptions and opened up a slender 3 goal lead.
The battle had started to marginally swing Lightning’s way but Bath dug in and kept fighting all the way. There were moments when Lightning could have taken the lead out to four but the Bath defence never allowed daylight to appear between the two teams. Going in to the final minute Lightning still had their 3 goal lead and they kept their composure. With ball in hand they patiently created scoring chances whilst running the clock down, defending as intensely as they had in the first minute of the game. Bath couldn’t create turnovers and Lightning took the game 49-47 for a fantastic win.
Player-coach, Olivia Murphy said, ““We were extremely pleased with our win especially after the momentum had quite clearly swung in Bath’s favour. It was a huge effort and again a real team performance.
“This leaves us at the top of the league and, barring scoring miracles by Mavericks in the next few weeks, we are almost certain to reach the play-offs in one of the top two places, which we hope will be the best route to the final.”
Lightning’s next game is at home against the Mavericks on Monday 25th February. 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.
Imago Coaching Clinics
If you want to learn to play like the Lightning girls, why not sign up to one of their Coaching Clinics. Sponsored by Imago, the next five week clinic starts on 14th February. This clinic is open to girls aged 9 – 12 and will take place at the Netball Centre at the university, every Thursday 4.30 - 6pm. If you would like more information please check out the community page on Lightning’s website, www.loughboroughlightning.com or call 01509 226 753 / email [email protected].
Lightning Hit the Road
After the success of the Imago Coaching Clinics in Loughborough the Lightning netball team has decided to take its skills on the road, delivering Fun Days throughout the East Midlands region. On Saturday 16th February the team will be visiting Woodlands School in Derby and Moulton College in Northampton. To get the chance to improve your skills with coaching from the country’s top players and get a free ticket to see Lightning play in the Co-operative Netball Superleague visit www.loughboroughlightning.co and click on the community page
For further information please contact Jo Pockett at Perfect Motion on 0115 9258 777 or email [email protected]