Loughborough Lightning secured their third win on the trot on Saturday night after a convincing 69 – 45 win over visiting side Celtic Dragons.
In the opening match of their first double header weekend, Lightning welcomed welsh side Celtic Dragons to Loughborough University in the third round of the 2018 Vitality Netball Superleague.
Stepping out in front of an 800 strong crowd, Lightning used their home court advantage to take an early lead, securing the first 6 points of the match within three minutes. Stunned, Dragons were forced to quickly reconcile their losses and prevent the powerful home side from gaining any more advantage and did so with a courageous fight.
Quarter 1: 19 – 11
An almost unchanged side saw the welcome addition of Hannah Joseph to the starting line-up, in her second match back from injury. With Clark and Proscovia seamlessly sinking the shots, it was down to the defensive duo of Sterling and Oyesola to claim the extra opportunities for Lightning.
Half time: 35 – 24
Beginning the second half with a fire in their bellies, Dragons came back fighting. Applying yet more pressure the whole way down the court, Lightning needed to step up a gear to maintain their eleven point lead and did so with a class and determination. A moment of brilliance occurred when a fantastic interception from Harris, which looked to become a dead ball, became the victim of Clark’s extensive reach, thus culminating in a shot. Prevailing to reveal any signs of tiring, Lightning ended the quarter with an even wider lead.
Quarter 3: 52 – 37
Starting the final quarter with a fifteen point lead allowed Lightning the breathing space needed to deploy its eager players from the bench. Changes to the side saw Harris on for Cobden, Grierson on for Joseph and Airey on for Oyseola. It was the final change however that heard the crowd erupt into applause as fan favourite and local talent Britt Coleman took to the court for the first time in over a year after an ACL injury during preseason left her side-lined. Having worked tirelessly for this moment Coleman showed no signs of nerves as her first shot slipped through the net with confidence. Despite changing over 75% of the squad for the last 15 minutes, Lightning continued to dominate the court and the whistle sounded, confirming Lightning’s third win in a row.
Full time: 69 – 45
Head Coach Anna Carter shared her thoughts on the night’s proceedings;
“It was really good to see the different combinations tonight and what they’re capable of and highlight the strengths in a 12 man squad instead of just the seven. It was great to see Britt back on court tonight and her performance was one she should be very proud of in her first game back.”
Described as the ‘glue that held the team together’ skipper Nat Panagarry was voted Player of the Match after another solid performance on court;
“It was a tough game tonight, Celtic Dragons came out hard but it was a great game to play in front of such a fantastic crowd. We’re taking each day as it comes and not getting carried away. We can’t wait to get to Leicester Arena on Monday as it’s a great venue and brings a whole new challenge with it.”
Lightning take to the court on Monday for the second match in their double header weekend against Manchester Thunder which takes place at Leicester Arena.
Tickets to all March home fixtures are on sale now and can be purchased from www.loughboroughlightning.com
GK – Shamera Sterling
GD – Vicki Oyesola
WD – Beth Cobden
C – Nat Panagarry ©
WA – Hannah Joseph
GA – Ella Clark
GS – Peace Proscovia