After a stunning season from Loughborough Lightning, the ladies took a 74-44 win over visiting Celtic Dragons.
Once again, the Sir David Wallace arena was booming with the home crowd’s roar, with the Lightning ladies looking fearsome as they took to the court. The last time the Lightning side encountered Celtic Dragons the ladies in purple took a decisive win of 65-45.
Dragons were quick with the first ball but failed to put one past the home defence. Peace Proscovia, recently named Sportswoman of the Year, made quick work of sinking the first net of the game. Lightning clearly took dominance in the early minutes of the first quarter, unsettling the Dragon’s offensive players.
Before long, Dragons found their rhythm and found their way through Lightning’s defence, shortening the home side’s lead.
Captain Natalie Panagarry commanded the field with ease and a smile, supported in the centre third by Joseph and Cobden. With the scoreline resting two points apart, Lightning looked to score with every opportunity.
Trip and Gibbons were a well-oiled machine, two cogs working in sync to make the Dragon offensive as difficult as possible. Proscovia proved her talent in the late first quarter, preventing a Dragons interception from causing too much damage.
As the first quarter wound down, Gibbons impressive interception sealed the deal for Lightning’s dominance in the first quarter.
First Quarter: Loughborough Lightning 17 – 12 Celtic Dragons
Straight off the buzzer, Lightning’s fearless offensive manoeuvres were back into their groove, tearing apart the Dragon defensive players and delivering Proscovia net after net. As little as one and a half minutes into the quarter, Lightning had already scored 3 points with plenty more to come.
Joseph really shone in this quarter, moving the ball across the court with style. Gibbons was particularly furious in her defence, putting an end to Dragon’s hope of a quick comeback as the scoreline drew apart by 10-points.
Gibbon’s interceptions were causing havoc for the Dragon offensive players. Clark found her feet at goal attack with five minutes to go as the scoreline stretched to 16 points apart.
Lightning’s prowess was proving too much for the visiting side as their substitutions started coming in fast. The Dragon’s bench remained loud as ever, shouting their support for the players as they went into half-time.
Half time: Loughborough Lightning 41 – 19 Celtic Dragons
Continuing their domination this season, Lightning sought to cement their lead over the visiting side. Airey and Walker were substituted on; fresh legs and precision passes made time on court difficult for the Dragons side.
There was little hope of a decisive comeback by the Welsh side as Lightning stormed ahead by a 26-point lead.
Joseph was a standout player during the third quarter, making light work of the ladies in green in the centre third. Panagarry was quick to take control of her side when the play started to get a little rough, with Walker finding the net with ease as the ball came into their third.
Nicholls was subbed on at wing defence, reinvigorating the home side’s defensive plays. Lightning finally took a 30-point lead with four minutes to go in the third quarter.
Third Quarter: Loughborough Lightning 60 – 30 Celtic Dragons
Despite the scoreline, Dragons gave everything they had to make it a tough game. Proscovia and Walker sunk their teeth into the visiting side’s defensive players, protecting their 30-point lead as the final quarter began.
Proscovia played with her natural calm, as if she’d only just entered the court. Airey was a valuable asset in the final quarter for the home side as Lightning’s lead looked to extend.
Proscovia was subbed off in the final eight minutes with Essam joining the court, scoring a net in her first few moments of action. Gibbons was also back on the court, looking to trouble the Dragon’s offensive once again as she so expertly did in the first half.
Dragons fought hard to keep the 30-point lead from extending, retaliating with every net they could manage. Essam was a star player in the final quarter, sinking each net she could get her hands on and earning a huge roar every time from the home crowd.
Final score: Loughborough Lightning 74 – 44 Celtic Dragons
Next week, Loughborough Lightning take on Team Northumbria at home in the Sir David Wallace arena. You can buy tickets here: http://loughboroughsport.com/loughborough-lightning/fixturesandresults/
You can buy your tickets for the 2017 Vitality Netball Superleague Final Four – here!