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Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final 2022: Loughborough Lightning

Lightning are looking to retain their crown. Image: Ben Lumley

Loughborough Lightning have struck gold with their fifth consecutive Vitality Netball Superleague play-off spot.

Head coach Vic Burgess steered the 2021 champions to qualification with ease after the team finished second in the table.

Here’s what you need to know about the reigning champions:

Key Player – Hannah Joseph

Always there when you need her, centre court player Hannah Joseph has been an integral part of a team fighting for victory this season.

Playing the majority of the every game and stepping into a well-deserved leadership role, Joseph has helped shape Lightning when they needed it most.

And when it comes to statistics, Joseph tops the table with the most feeds at 414 and has been a driving force to get the ball into the Loughborough circle.

The 28-year-old’s reliability has become a key part of the team over the season, pushing them towards success.

Rising Star – Emma Thacker

A new signing and only 19-years-old, Emma Thacker has shown that she’s ready for her time to shine with Loughborough.

The attacker has made appearances in all 20 matches this season and scored a total of 181 goals.

And her impressive form earnt her a nomination for this year’s Young Player of the Season award, alongside fellow rising star and Lightning player, Alice Harvey.

Thacker first donned the purple of Loughborough during the Fast5 tournament and has become a strong member of the team in a very short period of time.

Unsung Hero – Ella Clark

Shooting her shot when it counted, Ella Clark used every minute she had on court to prove her talent – and she continues to do so.

With star shooter Mary Cholhok unavailable due to injury, Clark stepped up and took hold in the circle.

And with 400 goals so far this season, the 30-year-old has shown experience and class.

Burgess said: “There was a period of time that we didn’t have Cholhok available due to injury and Ella Clark has really stepped up in that shooter role, controlling that attacking end and we’ve been getting through games without some of our key players. 

“These are the types of players that are stepping up, performing week after week.”

Best Performance – Loughborough Lightning v Mavericks, Round 6

Lightning put up a dominating and relentless performance over Saracens Mavericks for a 71-47 win in Round 6.

Heading into the match, both teams were well matched with 12 points on the table.

But that was soon to change as Lightning put up a decisive performance in front of a packed home crowd to make it five wins from five.

An edge of the circle shot from Clark and defensive authority from Harvey and Fran Williams were just two of many moments that showcased a well-served win by the home side.

Key Moments – Beating Pulse after Thunder loss, Round 11

Handing London Pulse their first defeat of the season, Lightning bounced back to victory after a hard-fought loss against Manchester Thunder the previous week.

With lessons learnt from their recent loss, Lightning started fast and bright by putting pressure on Pulse from the first centre pass.

Burgess said: “We didn’t have a very good start against Thunder and going into the Pulse game the following week, in the first quarter we went up 20-6 – for me that was a huge statement that we know what we can do, we know we can be better than that. 

“That game showed how much we can learn from that previous game and implement something different and not make the same mistakes we made before. 

“It showed those relentless values. That was one of the games where they really stepped up and showed me what they were capable of.”

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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