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Vic Burgess

Image: Ben Lumley

Head coach Vic Burgess admitted she was in disbelief when full-time rang out at the Copper Box Arena as Loughborough Lightning were crowned 2023 Netball Super League champions.

Lightning overcame regular season table-toppers London Pulse with a 57-48 victory despite trailing for most of a panicked first half.

It was redemption for Burgess’ side, who lost out to Manchester Thunder in last year’s final after losing goal attack Ella Clark to a horrific ACL injury inside two minutes.

But Burgess and coaching team made sure Lightning were prepared to avoid a repeat of last year and go one step further this season.

She said: “The difference is that the girls put a shift out there, worked hard for each other, fought back when they needed to and pushed on when we had the opportunity – for that I am so proud of them.

“We tried to work hard to prepare for all occasions. Last year was tough because we had an injury, this year we had a plan for that.”

“It was disbelief [when the final whistle went]. It gets emotional when you go on journeys with different athletes.

“Everybody is different and some people have been through some tough stuff this year and those hugs are quite emotional.”

Victory is the icing on the cake for Lightning after an emotional season, that has seen a number of players fight personal battles including captain Nat Pangarry and star shooter Mary Cholhok.

It had looked like it would not be the fairy tale ending they had hoped for as Pulse raced out into an early six-goal lead as they looked to beat Lightning for a third time this season.

But Burgess’ side ensured lessons were learnt from the two previous encounters and fought back to turn the tide in the third quarter and power on to victory.

Burgess said: “The first time we played them, we both didn’t play that well but they came out on top. We knew what we had to do to fix things up.

“The second time we played them, we felt we attacked well, we just didn’t win enough ball.

“For us, it was about where we could win more ball today and be more clinical in attack, which we weren’t in the first quarter but we fixed that up.

“It was a bit of a panic [when 7-1 down] but we’ve been in those positions this season where we have had a start like that and come back from it.

“Those learnings have really had an impact that we can fight back, it was just believing in ourselves.”

Fran Williams picked up yet another player of the match award for a majestic performance at goal defence and Burgess hailed her player who heads to the World Cup next month.

Burgess said: “She’s taken on board a lot of feedback around her movement, being brave to challenge ball, running her feet through ball.

“She’s got a lot of ball out of that because she works ridiculously hard with extra sessions in the gym, linking up with our S&C.”

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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