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Beth Cobden runs on court as Loughborough Lightning take on Surrey Storm. Credit Morgan Harlow

Beth Cobden knows reigning champions Loughborough Lightning have a target on their back heading into the Vitality Netball Superleague play-offs.

Lightning finished second in the regular season standings and will host London Pulse in the semi-finals on Friday at the Sir David Wallace Arena.

And Cobden, named Player of the Season last term, is hoping the team’s mental strength will help them push all the way to another Grand Final.

She said: “I think the aim is always to get in the top four and having won it last year, we want to go and do the same thing again.

“We’ve got ourselves in a good position for that and I think the best part of the year for me is seeing the squad grow.

“With development you need a good culture and I think we’ve got a really nice balance of that within our team.

“Teams are always up to get you if you’re the team that won. So, we just keep ourselves in our bubble and it’s been working and been good to keep building on that.”

Cobden is just one of many in the Loughborough Lightning squad with big-game experience, part of the Roses squad that won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

But the mid-courter will face a new challenge when gearing up to battle a fresh and fearless Pulse in their biggest match of the season.

She said: “It’s always good to acknowledge that it’s a big game, it’s not like you can just brush that under the carpet.

“The nerves will be there but the excitement’s there and the whole point that you play is for these finals and it’s the best bit of the year.

“So, it’s really just accepting that and embracing it and sticking together as a group. Pulse have been brilliant and had a really good season.

“There’s no pressure on them really. They’re coming into finals for the first time so they will just be there to enjoy it so it will be interesting and a good match up.”

The Vitality Netball Superleague has grown once again this season with fans back in stadiums and increased TV coverage – but Cobden wants bigger and better.

She said: “I remember my first year playing, about 10 years ago now at Thunder, and there were crowds there, but we didn’t really have TV coverage like we do now.

“I still think there’s a long way to go and it will be great to see all the games on the TV. We’ve had three a week which has been good, but you end up missing some of the big games so, the more we can get on TV, the better.

“I think with more investment and stronger competition, it will be a pay off in the long run.”

Who will be crowned champions? Vitality Netball Grand Final 2022 takes place at London’s Copper Box Arena this Sunday 5 June. Get your tickets here.

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