The Sky Sports cameras were once again treated to a thrilling Vitality Netball Superleague encounter last night as Loughborough Lightning narrowly defeated Deltic Dragons.
The final score was 51-48 to Lightning after Dragons won the final quarter 13-7 to almost push the game to extra time.
You can read the Lightning match report below:
After a hugely exciting final quarter, Lightning’s 48-51 victory was almost stolen by Dragons in the final minutes of the game. Lightning travelled to Cardiff to play Celtic Dragons in a hugely exciting mid-table clash and were put to the test by their hosts.
The last time Lightning took on Dragons was at home at Loughborough University in the Sir David Wallace Arena, where the ladies won 58 – 53 after a hard-fought game against the visiting side. Lightning are currently seated at the middle of the Vitality Superleague table above Dragons.
Dragons took the first ball and were quick on the attack, with Lightning defensive players Ama Agbeze and Lauren Massey keen to disrupt their plays. The home side took the first goal, and were three-goals ahead by the time Lightning finally gained possession. Kadeen Corbin put away Lightning’s first goal of the game and, after an interception by Massey, Lauren Nicholls was quick to move the ball back up the court into Peace Proscovia’s safe hands. Before long, Lightning had equalised after a shaky start. At the first five minutes gone, Lightning had taken the lead 4-6 with Dragons close behind.
Nicholls took a hard-earned interception at the ninth minute of the first quarter and quickly put the ball away to Natalie Panagarry. Seamless interlinking play between the offensive players and fantastic vision by Hannah Joseph secured a goal for the Lightning ladies. As in their previous game, both sides were incredibly physical with multiple obstruction and contact calls being made in the first ten minutes of the game. Proscovia made light work of her opposite player as she ensured Lightning maintained their three-goal lead, with a 9/11 ratio in the first ten minutes. Corbin was a key player in the first quarter and was set to cause even more trouble for the home side.
Dragons once again took first centre pass as the second quarter kicked off, with Panagarry and Corbin causing real issues for the Dragons’ offensive play as the ball struggled to leave the centre third. As Lightning regained possession, Dragons snatched the ball from Nicholls and put away a goal to close the gap on Lightning’s lead. Lightning were able to retain a two-goal lead over the home side for the first five minutes of the quarter as Dragons’ offensive plays became increasingly dangerous. Lauren Massey was key in preventing a goal by Dragons and the ball was taken away to Nicholls who utilised a long ball give the Lightning offensive players yet another opportunity to score. Corbin was on good form throughout, with agile reactions and providing key support for Proscovia.
With Jo Trip’s unexpected illness keeping her out of the game, Agbeze and Massey worked tirelessly to maintain defence of Lightning’s goal end. With six minutes to go of the first half, Lightning led 20-17 with Dragons merciless in their offensive. Lightning took a five-goal lead in the final three minutes, yet the Dragons offensive grew ever more pressing with Lightning defensive players rising to the challenge. Massey took an injury to the hand and was shortly replaced by Rachel Sweet after some great work in defence. The first half ended with Lightning dominating the scoreboard.
HT: Celtic Dragons 24 – 27 Loughborough Lightning
Dragons put away the first goal of the half, and with Lightning having issues with penalties it wasn’t long before Dragons had clawed their way up the scoreboard to a mere goal away from equalising. Lightning made no changes at halftime, with Karen Atkinson showing confidence in her team on the court. Agbeze was quick to capitalise on Dragons missing a shooting opportunity and the ball was shifted up the court to Corbin who put away yet another goal for her side. Joseph once again showed great vision in this half of the game and yet another Nicholls interception was a huge crowd pleaser.
Lightning seemed rejuvenated after halftime and worked tirelessly to once again take a five-goal lead over Dragons with eight minutes to go of the third quarter. Dragons’ goal keeper was given a warning after multiple contact penalties against Proscovia. Panagarry at centre was relentless in exploiting her opposite player’s mistakes and was a standout player in this quarter, providing impressive interlinking play between her offensive and defensive players. With five minutes to go, Lightning were enjoying a seven-goal lead over their host team. The pace of the game intensified as Lightning extended their lead to ten goals, with contact penalties still plaguing both sides.
The fourth quarter began 35 – 44 to Lightning with Dragons once again putting away the first goal of the quarter. The away team were quick to respond with Proscovia having a cracking game at goal shooter with a steady consistency at shooting. Dragons seemed to fire up their intensity in the final quarter as they attempted to close the gap on their visiting side. Agbeze was a standout player in this final quarter, taking multiple interceptions and securing the ball for her side. Lightning made no changes between the third and fourth quarter.
In an exciting final ten minutes, Dragons managed to close the gap and gained seven goals in order to secure a three-goal difference. Another warning was given to Dragons wing attack as the game’s intensity grew, with both sides losing their discipline. Vanessa Walker was brought on for Lightning as Kadeen Corbin was taken off the court with an injury in the later part of the quarter; it was clear from Dragons’ two warnings that the game was fraught with contact and physical plays. The Lightning side seemed agitated with two-goals between the teams in the final five minutes after having enjoyed a comfortable lead the entire game. Every ball the Dragons caught, the home crowd screamed with excitement putting huge pressure on Lightning to perform.
The last three minutes of the game were deafening as the excitement grew, with a point wavering between the two sides, but Lightning were able to silence the home crowd as they took home the victory.
FT: Celtic Dragons 48 – 51 Loughborough Lightning
Loughborough Lightning’s next fixture is at home on Monday 28th of March against Hertfordshire Mavericks at the David Wallace Arena. Tickets are still available here: http://loughboroughsport.com/loughborough-lightning/fixturesandresults/
GS – Peace Proscovia
GA – Kadeen Corbin
WA – Hannah Joseph
C – Natalie Panagarry
WD – Lauren Nicholls
GD – Lauren Massey
GK – Ama Agbeze