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Lightning strike at Team Northumbria

Lightning struck twice at Sport Central as Team Northumbria suffered a third quarter setback for the second Saturday on the bounce.

Once again a second half slump ended any hopes of a first Netball Superleague win of the season.

And head coach TeAroha Keenan faces a week of tough decisions ahead of TN’s first away trip on Friday.

An initially tight clash was decided during 15 frustrating minutes as Loughborough Lightning claimed the third period 21-7 to open up a 51-34 lead.

And after a punishing 65-43 loss TN must be less profligate in possession if they are to get anything from next week’s match at Manchester Thunder.

Iman Thomas was drafted into the starting seven with Aussie rookie Toni Anderson on the bench.

But that was the only change from the side that dressed for last weekend’s first centre pass against Bath.

And once again the hosts started brightly with attacking duo Tamsin Moala and Chiara Semple finding plenty of space in the attacking third.

The latter’s smart finish levelled the score at 4-4 before the Lightning edged in front – thanks largely to the unerring accuracy of Peace Proscovia.

The lively Ugandan – nicknamed Warid Tower – led the Loughborough line with power and passion to fire the visitors into an 11-8 lead and went on to sink 55 of her 59 goal attempts across four fearsome quarters.

And with Proscovia pushing Hayley Mulheron to the limit, the Lightning maintained their three-goal advantage heading into the second period.

In reality it was only TN’s failure to capitalise on turnover ball that had allowed the visitors to sneak ahead.

And an infuriating habit for letting Loughborough off the hook continued deep into the second period.

Time and time again TN forced their rivals to surrender possession – only to give up the ball themselves and toss away the chance to reduce the deficit.

Remarkably, the Lightning failed to cut out their own costly mistakes and the hosts remained within striking distance at half-time.

Loughborough led by three heading into the third quarter and coach Keenan resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes to a side still in with a shout.

Moala and Semple switched positions in attack and Emily Hollingworth replaced Francine Hall at centre.

But TN simply couldn’t reduce the error count as the Lightning finally hit their stride.

And four minutes into the second half Loughborough stretched out to their biggest lead of the night as England star Ella Clark fired the visitors 34-29 ahead.

Proscovia’s trademark finish in the 43rd minute opened up a 10-point gap and damage limitation became the only option for a rapidly tiring TN.