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England's Sara Bayman

Loughborough Lightning appoint Bayman as new Director of Netball

Loughborough Lightning Netball are delighted to unveil Sara Bayman as their new Director of Netball ahead of the 2019 Vitality Netball Superleague season.

Bayman is a former England International and brings with her a wealth of top level playing experience. Boasting 84 caps with the England Roses, having competed in two World Cups and two Commonwealth Games, Sara hopes to apply her knowledge to the programme here at Loughborough University.

Lightning have missed out on the top prize in both the 2017 and 2018 Superleague, making it to the Grand Final on both occasions and narrowly missing out on the win. Having won the Superleague four times as a player with Team Bath and Manchester Thunder, Bayman will look to draw on her experience to guide Lightning to the top for the first time in 2019.

Moving to Loughborough in September from fellow Superleague side Sirens, where Bayman spent her 2018 season playing, Sara will spearhead a strong staff team including Pathway Head Coach Emily Perry who is currently developing the Lightning Netball Academy. Also applying her trade to the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) programme, Bayman will undertake the responsibility of guiding the University teams to the Championships where the student side claimed Gold in 2017.

Sara has been involved with age group level competition since a young age, having previously captained the England U21 side and therefore hopes to work closely with Perry to enhance the development and progression of the youth members within the Lightning and University programmes.

Of her new role Bayman said: “I’m really excited to join such an ambitious programme and work with some of the top athletes in the UK.

“Loughborough Lightning have shown a commitment to developing players and creating a strong team culture.

“I will look to build on this through my experiences at the top level and can’t wait to take Loughborough into the 2019 season.”

Of this key appointment Franchise Director Olivia Murphy commented: “I am extremely pleased to welcome Sara to Loughborough Lightning.

“Sara is a fantastic character and I have no doubt she will be a brilliant Director of Netball for us.

“I have worked with Sara previously and have seen that she is a great leader and role model.

“She has always shown great desire to improve herself and those around her and she has the platform at Loughborough to continue to strive to do this.

“I am very excited for the next chapter for Lightning under Sara’s leadership.”

Bayman will replace outgoing Head Coach Anna Carter in September, who leaves the franchise having guided the team to a second Grand Final in as many years.

Bayman’s first outing with the Lightning squad will be at the 2018 Fast 5 All Stars Competition in October, where the girls will be looking to defend their title.


Vote for Sky Sports Vitality Superleague Player of the Season

The shortlist is in for the Sky Sports Vitality Netball Superleague Player of the Season and Sky Netball have whittled it down to five of the league’s shining stars.

Loughborough Lightning’s Ama Agbeze, Manchester Thunder’s Sara Bayman, Team Bath’s Karla Mostert, Surrey Storm’s Sophia Candappa and Hertfordshire Mavericks’ Sammy Wallace are all up for the prize.

You can vote for your Player of the Season on the Sky Sports website here:


Thunder narrowly beat Dragons

Manchester Thunder took a narrow victory over Celtic Dragons on Saturday as they won 54-51.

Dragons fought right until the end and almost shocked the 2014 champions, only losing the second quarter – they drew the first and third and won the fourth.

Read the Manchester Thunder match report below:

Manchester Thunder laboured to a three goal win over Celtic Dragons in Cardiff.

Thunder displayed patches of fluid and dominant form but they failed to make it count and they only out-scored Dragons in one quarter.

It was a lacklustre and ultimately disappointing performance from the Black and Yellows and they will be relieved to leave Wales with a win.

Coach Dan Ryan expected more from his players, especially with consistency in all four quarters.

“Our focus going into the game was to be as clinical and consistent as possible as we haven’t won four quarters for a couple of weeks now and we were really conscious of winning all four today but it didn’t work out that way, which is pretty disappointing,” he said.

“We made a lot of basic errors on our decision making and we played into their hands and kept giving them opportunities. We didn’t learn from those mistakes and they kept happening. We need to rectify it as top ranked teams will punish us.”

Eyebrows were raised before the first whistle with coach Dan Ryan’s team selection. He chose Natalie Haythornthwaite as his shooter and dropped Helen Housby to the bench, with Kathryn Turner instead chosen to partner her in attack.

On the decision to play Haythornthwaite at shooter, Ryan said: “I’ve always been conscious to change the line-up so that does take away from continuity.

“Nat has been out at wing attack for the past couple of weeks and I wanted to get her back in a focused shooting role – she’s short and dynamic and camp play the circle well. I think she did some really good stuff for us in there.

New Zealand import Liana Leota was brought straight back into the team after two games out rested and it looked like an experimental and exciting attacking front line in equal measure.

Ryan’s gamble paid off to some extent, with Thunder starting with intent but they tailed off near the end of the opening quarter and the sides went in level at the break.

There were moments of personal brilliance from the Black and Yellows, with Sara Bayman – who was named player of the match, constantly probing and working to control the momentum of Thunder’s play.

It was a true captain’s performance from the England star. Ryan added: “She was solid across the board in defence and attack and she came up with key intercepts when Dragons were challenging or we were trying to push on.”

Ryan put faith in in-form Ellie Cardwell for the second half and despite doing little wrong, she was sacrificed for the more familiar shooting pairing of Helen Housby and Haythornthwaite in the final quarter as he attempted to put the tie to bed.

Thunder worked hard to edge themselves in front on several occasions throughout the match, including a 10-goal advantage in the final quarter, but they failed to push on and sloppy errors allowed Dragons to carry on puffing in the hope of a famous victory.

It was an ugly win for Thunder and they will need to be far more clinical against Team Bath when they visit the Thunderdome next weekend, to secure the three points.

Manchester Thunder team huddle before the game

Thunder announce themselves as contenders

Away winners Manchester Thunder are now topping the Vitality Netball Superleague table after their win at Team Bath. Their post-match summary is below:

Manchester Thunder blew away early title favourites Team Bath, to announce themselves as serious contenders for the Vitality Netball Superleague.

The Black and Yellows ran out convincing 37-62 winners against an off-colour Bath. It was Thunder’s biggest win of the season so far, where they dominated across all areas of the court, from the very first whistle. Coach Dan Ryan was predictably delighted with his side’s showing against a team filled with international players. But he was keen to keep the win in perspective, especially with the next game coming so swiftly on Monday against Loughborough Lightning.

Reflecting on the performance after the match, Ryan said: “I don’t think many people would have predicted that scoreline. But the girls stuck really well to task tonight and their application was sensational. I’m really pleased by the level of performance from everyone that took to the court for us.”

Ryan selected Helen Housby (43/47 at 91%) as his player of the match, with the young England shooter part of a formidable attacking trio alongside Liana Leota and Natalie Haythornthwaite. “They stepped up to the level of intensity today against a quality side who are among the favourites to win the title, with an impressive backline, who are world-class, those three seemed to rise to the occasion,” he added.

But Ryan believes it was in defence where the game was really won, with Jamaican defender Malysha Kelly, who was the at the heart of a superb defence that restricted Bath to just 37 goals (including just six in the final quarter) in a physical and testing game.

He said of the Sunshine Girl: “Malysha was tenacious and feisty and she was a great anchor for us at the back. She might be shy and reserved but on court she’s an absolute competitor and it’s great to see that fire form her.”

Thunder rocketed into a five-goal lead from the outset, offering Bath very little opportunity to get on the scoreboard for the opening exchanges. And never looked like relinquishing their lead. They relentlessly pressed the Somerset-based side, who appeared shell-shocked by Thunder’s intensity and blistering pace.

The first quarter set the tone for the rest of the game, with Thunder audacious, sassy and inventive in attack and gritty, athletic and intelligent in defence. Coupled with solid support form the centre court, Thunder had Bath chasing shadows for large periods of the contest.

It was a bruising encounter throughout, but Thunder stood up to Bath’s physicality and refused to stray off task. Apart from a small period in the third quarter, Thunder outscored – and out-thought – their opponents. Bath’s uncharacteristic error-ridden display should not take away from Thunder’s ability to pick-off such a strong team at will.

Starting 7:
GK Kelly,
GD Gibson,
WD Malcolm,
C Bayman,
WA Leota,
GA Haythornthwaite,
GS Housby
Quarter score breakdown:
Q1 – 11-19
Q2 – 20-32
Q3- 31-44
Q4 – 37-62