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Jade Clarke

Lightning unable to meet the challenge of a physical Bath side

Loughborough Lightning missed the chance to record a win over Team Bath on Friday as they lost 60-44 away from home.

Their fellow play-off rivals were strong opponents, making it tought for Loughborough to get a grasp on the match.

Read below for the Loughborough match report:

Lightning faced one of their biggest challenges yet as Bath dominated the first half, and after a hugely physical and fast paced game the hosting side took away the victory at Lightning 44 – 60 Bath.

After a double header of difficult and close games, the Loughborough Lightning team headed south to face Team Bath. With marked determination from their tremendously close game against Team Northumbria on Monday, the Lightning team clearly had something to prove as they set out onto the court.

It was also Jade Clarke’s last appearance for Loughborough Lightning.

Bath took the first centre pass and put it straight to their GS who took the first goal. Loughborough University alumni Hannah Joseph worked hard at WA to get the ball to her offensive players, but Bath were quick to take it back and soon had a three-point lead within the first minute and a half.

A fast ball from Vanessa Walker to Peace Proscovia ensured Lightning with their first goal. However Team Bath were unrelenting in their offensive plays in the first quarter.

Last week’s player of the match Ama Agbeze was hugely disruptive of Bath’s GS, putting her dynamism to good use. The pace of the game was clear from the number of long balls used, leading to fast movement by both sides up and down the court.

Jo Trip made an interception to prevent Bath building on their four-goal lead with seven minutes to go in the first quarter, and from there the score-line remained at a two or three goal difference.

The second quarter began Lightning 13 – 15 Bath, with Kadeen Corbin coming on at GA to replace Walker. Agbeze continued to disrupt Bath’s GS and GA whilst Corbin made her presence felt immediately, as she made an interception, securing the ball for Lightning.

Fantastic cohesion between Joseph, Clarke and Corbin saw Lightning get on the scoreboard, but it was Bath’s frequent use of the long ball that put Lightning under most pressure.

Outstanding defensive play between Agbeze and Trip led to an interception as the game’s physicality became more and more apparent.

Soon after being brought on, Lauren Nicholls got into her stride and began to work the Bath WA hard, mounting huge pressure on her.

Despite a huge shift in Lightning’s aggression, Bath moved away with a six-point lead. Interlink play in the centre third between Nicholls and Joseph demonstrated the chemistry between the two on the court as the ball reached the offensive players.

Prosocovia had an unusually quiet game however England star Corbin was clearly confident in her shooting ability.

HT: Loughborough Lightning 20 – 29 Team Bath

The third quarter began with a number of changes by Lightning as Clarke moved to WD, Natalie Panagarry taking Centre, Agbeze to GK, Walker to GA and Lauren Massey in at GD.

Lightning’s intensity was clearly upped in the third quarter, with the side reenergised after the substitutions. The visiting side used numerous long balls to counter Bath’s fast paced style of play with Peace delivering the ball to Walker to put away their first goal.

Bath were now leading with a ten-goal advantage and sought to add more goals. Panagarry stepped up at centre, providing the offensive players with the ball with each opportunity.

Lauren Massey’s replacement at GD was made difficult by the merciless host team’s GA. Despite the twelve-point lead that Bath enjoyed in the last ten minutes of the third quarter, Lightning never gave up and chipped away at the score-line.

The third quarter ended with Lightning 33 – 47 Bath.

Panagarry took the first centre pass of the final quarter, with Bath quickly finding possession and capitalising on it. Jo Trip was back onto the court, Agbeze to GD and Massey over to WD.

The numerous changes in the game made it clear that Lightning was keen to find a way to counter Bath’s experienced team. Corbin was back into form in the fourth quarter, with Walker providing opportunities to score at GA.

With the last five minutes winding down, Bath’s pace was clearly becoming too much for the visiting side as the gap never seemed to close for Lightning. The home side’s crowd was overwhelmingly loud as their team built on their lead over Lightning.

As the game entered the final two minutes, Trip interfered with Bath’s offensive plays with Panagarry putting pressure on her opposite player. Lightning had a skilful long pass play from one end of the court to the other and finished it with a final goal for the side.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as Bath took the victory.

FT: Loughborough Lightning 44 – 60 Team Bath

Next week, Lightning take on Yorkshire Jets at home in the Sir David Wallace Arena, Loughborough University.

Tickets have already sold out for this event, but there are still tickets available for future home games here: http://loughboroughsport.com/loughborough-lightning/fixturesandresults/