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Fran Williams

Image: Ben Lumley

Loughborough Lightning star Fran Williams hailed her side’s Grand Final experience as they lifted the Netball Super League trophy for a second time with a comeback win over London Pulse. 

Lightning overcame a six-goal deficit midway through the first half to run away 57-48 winners against a Pulse side who were appearing in the first Grand Final in their history. 

Williams won Player of the Match for her defensive displays as Loughborough turned the tide in the third quarter before pulling away to secure a second title in three years. 

“I feel on top of the world right now, with this team and everyone backing each other the whole game, we really believed,” the 25-year-old said. 

“We didn’t have our best start but I am so proud of the way we got over the line today. It is the best feeling in the world. 

“Liv Murphy [assistant coach] had some strong words with us. We know what style of netball we want to play, and I think we brought that right from the start but Pulse had such a great start and credit to them, they pushed us all the way.

“Knowing how to win I think is super important and there’s a lot of winners in this team.” 

Williams suffered Grand Final defeat in her first season with Lightning last year as they lost to this year’s third-placed side Manchester Thunder. 

She now has a third Super League medal in her collection after winning twice with Wasps in 2017 and 2018 before becoming one of the very few additions to the Lightning squad who tasted victory in 2021.

Four of Lightning’s starting seven two years ago also started today, with a fifth coming off the bench in the second half in Beth Cobden. 

Alice Harvey was a bench player in 2021 but has worked her way to a starting position and formed a formidable partnership with Williams in the final as they came up against Pulse’s young but impressive shooters Olivia Tchine and Berri Neil. 

Williams added: “Everyone plays with such freedom and it allows me to feel like I could go out and win ball and you’re always getting backed up. 

“I thought Alice Harvey was incredible today and the way that she supported me through that game, it’s just a pleasure to play alongside those girls.

“We owned those big moments on court, when we won the ball, it was about getting it to goal, those small margins are what won us the game. 

“We had some big learnings from the Grand Final last year. Even with losing Ella Clark to injury early on, we probably didn’t deserve to win that final anyway.

“But we attacked this season knowing we were good enough to win this year looking at our squad and looking at the other squads. 

“That belief was huge for us and we used the experiences we have all had from being in finals to come home and lift that trophy.”

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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