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Leeds Rhinos

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Loughborough Lightning

Match Details

12th May 2023
Round 17
EIS Sheffield
Stats Report

Match Results

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First Centre Pass

Natalie Panagarry
Natalie Panagarry Loughborough Lightning View profile

Team Stats

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Performance Stats

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Performance Stats

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Elle McDonald fights to keep the ball in play

Loughborough Lightning eased past Leeds Rhinos 72-56 at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

Lightning sealed qualification for the Grand Final with a close-run victory over Severn Stars last weekend, but made easier running on Friday night with a comfortable 16-goal win.

Rhinos head coach Liana Leota named an unchanged starting seven from the side who had pushed Manchester Thunder close a week earlier but struggled to compete with Lightning, and the Kiwi coach voiced her frustration at her side's showing.

She said: “I just don’t think we turned up today, both physically and mentally. We knew it was going to be a tough task but we wanted to weather the storm in the first half and them grind out to the end.

"There were moments of brilliance when we turning over ball but in attack we just weren’t scoring or taking care of position."

A few errors from Rhinos saw visitors Lightning take the early advantage with a run of three goals to lead 4-1.

Both sides then made the same error of launching a pass off the backline, Rhinos then added another goal onto the board after a couple of minutes where nothing fell through the net.

Further errors from the home side saw Lightning extend their lead out to six with just five minutes remaining of quarter one, 12-6.

Despite displaying patience within the circle for Rhinos, Ellie Bird at goal shooter and Brie Grierson at goal attack couldn’t reduce the deficit as Mary Cholhok remained as successful down the other end of the court.

Leeds captain Nia Jones held off former Rhinos player Rhea Dixon to allow Elle McDonald to pick up the loose ball, Rhinos found Bird and surrounded by cheers from the fans she reduced the gap to five.

Lightning tracked play well and came out with a couple of balls allowing them to enter the first break seven goals ahead 19-12.

Two attacking contact calls went against Rhinos in the attacking third, allowing Lightning to extend their lead even further to nine goals, 25-16.

Vicki Oyesola worked hard at the back of Rhinos' defensive unit and created herself a turnover. Bird then put two through the net consecutively. This meant that the gap was down to five and Rhinos had scored a run of three, 27-22.

Two more errors from Rhinos saw Lightning utilise their possession and the visitors lead was out to 11 with just under one minute remaining of quarter two , 37-26.

Dixon scored a goal for Lightning with just 12 seconds on the clock, the home crowd showed concern with just four seconds left on the clock but Bird slotted one through with one second remaining.

Both sides started the second half strongly by scoring from their own centre passes. The ball travelled up and down the court before Oyesola made another vital intercept which after a patient transition was put through the net.

The deficit remained at 10 with both 10 minutes and then five minutes remaining of play of quarter three.

Emma Thacker had instant impact for her side and took an interception at the transverse before working the ball around the circle to find herself a comfortable shooting position.

Leota made her first changes of the game with Paige Reed entering at goal attack, Rosie Harris talking the wing defence bib and Jemma Donoghue taking to court in goal defence.

Donoghue helped the transition move down the court but Lightning's Cholhok made a lay up to extend their lead to 13 goals moving into the final break.

Rhinos were patient in attack to get the final 15 underway, Reed added two beautifully high shots to her tally but the deficit remained at 14.

Oyesola picked up two further balls for her side, Reed and Bird combined well to reward their teammates defensive efforts.

Harris then found Bird under the post from within the centre third to the crowds delight. Lightning remained patient and Thacker made an interception with just 45 seconds remaining of the game.

Oyesola again made a final intercept to deny the visitors of a goal within the final seconds, meaning the game finished 72-56 with the visitors taking the win.

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