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Loughborough Lightning lift the Netball Super League trophy

Image: Ben Lumley

Pulse came out swinging in the first half opening up six-goal margin in both quarters but Lightning always hit back to stay just two behind at the break. 

Loughborough Lightning won a second Netball Super League title with an enthralling 57-48 win over London Pulse at a sold-out Copper Box Arena.  

Loughborough’s fight was a sign of what was to come as a devastating third quarter saw them move five goals ahead as their defence and attack clicked fully into gear. 

The final quarter saw no letting up from either side but with Pulse chasing the lead, and a first-ever title, they were ultimately left with too much to do. 

Vic Burgess’ side used all their experience to extend their lead and close out the final 15 minutes to secure a famous victory. 

London Pulse started strongly with their customary defensive pressure as Zara Everitt put in an intercept to help open up a two-goal lead.

The league leaders soon stretched their advantage to six as Funmi Fadoju produced a deflection to show she was more than up for the duel with Lightning shooter Mary Cholhok. 

Lightning soon fought back as Nat Panagarry turned over a Pulse centre pass and found Rhea Dixon who sunk her second long-range shot of the game. 

It was not long before Fadoju was back involved, producing another tip to see London Pulse hold a 17-13 lead at quarter-time. 

The goal defence continued where she left off in the second quarter with a deflection that saw Pulse regain their six-goal advantage. 

Sam Bird’s side were imperious in defence and attack, launching a Halimat Adio turnover down the court with slick passing to keep their lead. 

Lightning once more came back into the game with their defensive lynchpin Fran Williams forcing Olivia Tchine into an error, which they converted to end the half only two goals behind. 

The second half continued how the first had as Pulse capitalised on strong defensive work to stretch their lead before Williams responded in kind for Lightning twice in a row to bring the game back level at 35-35. 

Lightning took the lead for the first time in the game as both teams traded turnovers before regular errors crept in Pulse’s game as a wayward pass from Tchine went straight out and Lightning were able to move four goals in front. 

The 2021 champions held onto their advantage at the end of quarter-time to set up a grandstand final 15 minutes of the season. 

Pulse made their first change of the Grand Final to start at the last quarter as Alicia Scholes replaced Chelsea Pitman and she faced the unenviable task of battling Beth Cobden who continued her fine return from long-term injury. 

There was little Scholes and her teammates could do as Lightning ramped up the pressure with the finish line and the trophy in their sights.

One final Fran Williams turnover saw Loughborough Lightning crowned two-time champions to cap off a remarkable season.

 The Netball Super League is the UK’s elite domestic netball competition and features ten teams from England, Wales and Scotland. For more information visit netballsl.com

 

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