Team Northumbria Vs Team Bath
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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/

Loughborough Lightning's Jade Clarke in action.

Lightning weather the Storm

This weekend’s Round 5 action saw some excitingly close encounters in the Vitality Netball Superleague, and none more so than the clash between Lougborough Lightning and Surrey Storm!

The tense encounter finished with Lightning winning 55-54 in what will almost certainly go down as one of the best games of the season.

For Lightning’s full match report read below:

Loughborough Lightning managed to hold off a challenging Surrey Storm side in an excruciatingly close match, with the final score resting at 55-54 to the home team.

The Lightning side fought hard until the end, with Storm providing a challenge at every step of the way.

Lightning took to the Sir David Wallace Arena in Loughborough University for their mid-table challenge against Surrey Storm. Their last game was a tough battle against Manchester Thunder at home where they were unable to beat the current league leaders.

This week was set to be captain Jade Clarke’s last home game for Loughborough in front of a sold-out crowd.

Lightning entered the court for the first quarter to a huge uproar from home support and were keen to make an impression on the visiting side. Storm took possession off the bat and put away the first goal of the match. Peace Proscovia was quick to reply and put away Lightning’s first goal and proved to make light work of Storm’s goal keeper.

Lightning’s Jo Trip made a fantastic interception after a threatening charge down the court by Storm and Lightning were able to put away more goals as a result. Between Trip and Ama Agbeze at defence, Storm were unable to make much of their possession and the lead by Lightning grew.

At centre, captain Jade Clarke made fantastic interlinking play as the defensive players earned the ball, with Hannah Joseph and Lauren Nicholls maintaining the pace of the ball up the court. Despite Lightning’s strong start, it was not long before Storm closed the gap and soon there was only a one-point lead by the home side.

Nicholls was a standout player in the first quarter, mounting pressure on her opposite player and creating problems for the Storm offensive plays. Five minutes to go until half time and the scoreline stood at Lightning 9 – 8 Storm. Storm had soon warmed up and their offensive pressure on Lightning grew as the first quarter came to a close.

Lightning led into the beginning of the second quarter at 14 – 13, with both sides looking to pin the other down. Proscovia was resolute in her confidence at goal shooter, with Loughborough University Student Vanessa Walker providing key support play as well as putting a goal away herself.

Fantastic interplay between Clarke and Walker ensured Lightning headed comfortably into a four-point lead over Storm in the first five minutes of the second quarter which lasted for the majority of the quarter.

Keen defensive work from the Lightning girls prevented Storm capitalising with possession, and interlinking play from the centre court girls ensured Lightning had ample opportunities for goals.

HT: LOUGHBOROUGH LIGHTNING 30 – 27 SURREY STORM

Lightning began the third quarter on the offensive and Proscovia put away the first goal of the half, with Storm responding straight away with their own goal. Hannah Joseph’s performance stepped up after the halftime break, providing fast-paced interlink plays for Walker and Proscovia.

Nicholls also stepped up the to try and contain the seemingly rejuvenated Storm offensive. Storm were able to close the gap on Lightning and soon the home team were back to a one-point lead over the visiting side.

Previous Player of the Match Jo Trip was put under huge pressure from the Storm goal shooter but managed to intercept the ball once again in the seventh minute of the third quarter. Kadeen Corbin made her return to the court, providing Lightning’s offensive plays with aggression.

Storm upped the physicality in the last five minutes of the third quarter, with both sides seemingly losing composure. Captain Clarke maintained her team’s discipline and soon the focus was back on to improving Lightning’s lead.

Once again, the home team had an advantage with a four-point lead. In the last two minutes of the quarter, Storm chipped away at Lightning and managed to close the gap by a few goals.

Storm began the fourth quarter with a huge charge on Lightning’s defensive side. Natalie Panagarry was put in for Hannah Joseph at wing attack and brought energy to the side. Within the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, Storm managed to take the lead at 42 – 43, but was quickly put to an end by Lightning’s Proscovia after fantastic work by Clarke and Corbin.

With ten minutes to go, the scoreline was evened out at 46-46. The Loughborough crowd grew louder with every goal put away by Proscovia. Storm’s goal shooter was given a warning after a fantastic interception by Agbeze, which only heightened the agitated home crowd’s excitement.

Corbin’s return to Lightning proved an invaluable asset as she had some fantastic play in the last five minutes of the half. The last few minutes of the game were nail biting for the home crowd as the roar of noise grew, with the scoreline wavering on one point between them. A superb interception by Agbeze stole the possession back from Storm and ensured Lightning’s victory.

FT: LOUGHBOROUGH LIGHTNING 55 – 54 SURREY STORM

Player of the Match, Ama Agbeze, had this to say about the match:

“I think we were up by five and then suddenly I looked at the score board and we were very close and I was like “how did this happen? How do we get back into the game?”. I’m pleased that we’ve won, but we need to learn how to (if we’re up by five) take a comfortable lead and keep on pushing on. So, stressful but pleased!”

Head coach Karen Atkinson also commented:

“Oh my goodness, we like to make it difficult for ourselves! Although, Surrey Storm are such a quality outfit. They’ve got experience all through the court. It was a bit frustrating that we would go ahead by five goals and not be able to push on, but I suppose that shows the quality of their side and that they weren’t going to give in. Massively proud that we managed to grind that out right at the end.”

On Monday, the Lightning team face Team Northumbria, away. Our next home match is against Yorkshire Jets on Saturday 12th of March. Tickets are available here: http://loughboroughsport.com/loughborough-lightning/fixturesandresults/

Starting Seven:
GK – Jo Trip
GD – Ama Agbeze
WD – Lauren Nicholls
C – Jade Clarke ©
WA – Hannah Joseph
GA – Vanessa Walker
GS – Peace Proscovia

Substitutes:
Kadeen Corbin
Harriet Gill
Lauren Massey
Natalie Panagarry

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Loughborough Lightning secure first home win of the season

Loughborough Lightning marked their first home win of the season with a comeback against Celtic Dragons. Here is their post match review;

Lightning took to the court on the 13th of February to a roaring crowd as they played their first home game of the season at Sir David Wallace sports hall at Loughborough University. Last week, Hertfordshire Mavericks gave the ladies a challenge as they lost 48-44.

Within the first thirteen seconds of the match, Lightning were able to score their first goal of the match with many more to follow. Play quickly moved down towards Lightning’s end though, with the Dragons mounting pressure on their defensive players during the first quarter. With Sasha Corbin’s recent injury putting her out of action for the remainder of the season, Natalie Panagarry controlled the pace at centre on her first start for the team this season.

Dragons offensive play was ruthless as it challenged the Lightning defence at every opportunity. Goal shooter Peace Proscovia made light work of putting away points for Lightning when possession was in their hands. As the first quarter wound down, Lightning worked hard to chip away at Dragon’s defence to even out the scoreboard, but Dragons lead 12-16 at the end of the first quarter.

Dragon’s shooter Georgia Rowe was on form as Lightning were once again met with aggression from the away team at the start of the second quarter. Captain Jade Clarke moved to her more natural position of centre, with Panagarry moving back into wing defence. The intensity of the game upped in the second quarter, with end-to-end performances from both teams.

Vanessa Walker, a student at Loughborough University studying Sports Management, found her rhythm in the second quarter putting a few points away for Lightning.

HT – Loughborough Lightning 28 – 32 Celtic Dragons.

The second half kicked off with Lauren Nicholls coming on for Panagerry and Kadeen Corbin making her debut for Lightning in goal attack replacing Walker. Lightning’s defence worried the Dragon’s offensive players as there were three interceptions by Loughborough in the first two minutes of the half. The substitutions made at half time clearly brought a newfound energy to the court as Lightning worked tirelessly to level out the scoreline.

Five minutes into the third quarter, Proscovia was a key player in putting Lightning level with Dragons for the first time in the game. Kadeen Corbin, making her Lightning debut, looked lively as Lightning began to pull away in the latter half of the third quarter, the England star adding points to the board at goal attack. Goal keeper Jo Trip’s physical style of play inherited from the ANZ was key in the several interceptions that Lightning enjoyed in the second half.

The fourth quarter began with a succession of quick plays from Lightning landing several more points on the board, with Corbin at goal attack rapidly becoming a key player in Lightning’s domination during the second half. Dragon’s seemingly impenetrable defence in the first half was slowly worn down by Lightning’s offensive plays. At wing attack, Hannah Joseph worked hard to give Proscovia and Corbin every opportunity possible to score. On the other end of the court, Ama Agbeze at goal defence worked hard to upset the Dragon’s attacking plays.

With two minutes of the final quarter to go, the score line rested precariously at 54-52 to Lightning, but quick work from the captain Jade Clarke at centre meant that possession of the ball was retained by the Loughborough ladies. A late flurry of Lightning goals saw the team in purple extend the lead, and by the final buzzer, Lightning had stolen victory and won their first home game of the season.

Full of confidence from her England debut last month, Hannah Joseph was named player of the match, thanks to some dynamic link-up play through in the attacking third of the court.

FT – Lougborough Lightning 58 – 53 Celtic Dragons.

Of the team’s performance Head Coach Karen Atkinson said:

At times today Liv and I were sat there wondering who the team were on the court, as it was nowhere near the standard we’ve been seeing in training or in the last couple of matches. Although we got the win, which is massively important, I was just really disappointed with the overall performance.

Credit to Dragons though, they started really well and they’ve clearly upped their game and their discipline from the last couple of games. They deserved to compete for the win, which they almost took from us.

Lightning are back in action on Monday night as they take on Manchester Thunder. Get your tickets to that game, which is also at home at the David Wallace Sports Hall here: www.loughboroughsport.com/loughborough-lightning/tickets

Starting Seven:
GK – Jo Trip
GD – Ama Agbeze
WD – Jade Clark ©
C – Natalie Panagarry
WA – Hannah Joseph
GA – Vanessa Walker
GS – Peace Proscovia
Substitutes
Kadeen Corbin
Harriet Gill
Lauren Massey
Lauren Nicholls
Rachel Sweet

Jade Clarke

Jade Clarke – Featured Player of the Week

Jade Clarke is making her welcome return to the Vitality Netball Superleague after five years overseas in Australia and New Zealand. Not only has Clarke been extremely successful domestically, she has been an integral member of the England national team since 2003, making her senior debut against New Zealand.

She’s now just five caps away from equalling the record number of appearances for an England player!

During her international career so far, Clarke has competed in a number of international competitions, has won two World Netball Championship Bronze medals and also took the 2011 FastNet World Netball Series Gold Medal with England as captain.

She was named as the captain of England after the retirement of Karen Atkinson after the 2011 Netball World Championships. Her long and illustrious career was rewarded with being inducted into the England Netball Hall of Fame in September 2014.

After playing four seasons of domestic netball for Loughborough Lightning, Clarke switched to Northern Thunder for the 2009/10 season. The following season saw Clarke travel to the other side of the world to play in the Australasian ANZ Championships.

Initially, Clarke was bought in to New Zealand–based team the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, as a Temporary Replacement Player for injured midcourter Peta Scholz.

After making an impact in the world-famous league, she signed on to play for the NZ Franchise, Northern Mystics in 2012. She later signed with the Mainland Tactix for the 2013 season and after two seasons with them, Clarke joined the Sydney based NSW Swifts as their import player.

She had a dream debut season with NSW Swifts, making herself a regular starter, winning the MVP award in a game against her former side, Tactix.

To cap it all off, Clarke helped Swifts make it to the Grand Final of the ANZ Championship, narrowly losing 56-57 against Queensland Firebirds.

After this closely-fought match, followed by World Cup Bronze with England in the summer of 2015, it was confirmed that Clarke had resigned for Loughborough Lightning for the 2016 Vitality Netball Superleague season as their captain.