Strathclyde Sirens Vs Loughborough Lightning

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Loughborough v Saracens

Lightning suffer away defeat

Loughborough Lightning took home a difficult defeat on Saturday night after a physical battle on the road with Saracens Mavericks clinching the 54 – 41 win in round three of the Vitality Netball Superleague.

The match started with a fairly even playing surface, Ugandan Shooter Mary Cholhok claimed her first Superleague start, whilst Lightning veterans Clark, Panagarry and Joseph continued to claim the starting mid-court spots. Facing an equally experienced side with England Roses sisters Sasha and Kadeen Corbin feeding directly into two-time superleague champion shooter Georgie Fisher.

Eager to impress their home fans for their first home match of the season, newly named Saracens Mavericks got off to a flying start, claiming the first four goals. But Lightning were soon making their mark in the game closing the gap. With both circle defenders keeping close to Cholhok, in an attempt to disrupt Joseph’s drop balls, it was up to Clark to sink the first shots against her old side.

End of Q1: Loughborough Lightning 12 – 17 Saracens Mavericks

Beginning the second quarter with the same line-up Lightning were wide awake and ready to rewrite the opening fifteen minutes and get themselves on top of the home side. With both teams increasing the speed and physicality, much to the delight of the sold-out home crowd, every single ball was fought tooth and nail to be kept in possession. Fancy footwork from Cholhok and dominance in the D from Oyesola and Keenan saw Lightning double their points before the half-time break.

Half-time: Loughborough Lightning 24 – 35 Saracens Mavericks

Moving Panagarry to WD and bringing on Shaw to centre, Lightning needed to muster all their remaining energy to turn the fate of the game around in the second half. The physicality and aggression on court ramped up yet again and both sides sought every opportunity to wreak havoc and disrupt the flow of the game. Their best quarter of the game saw Lightning close the gap to just four goals with 5 minutes left in the quarter.

End of Q3: Loughborough Lightning 37 – 44 Saracens Mavericks

A huge fifteen minutes stood between Lightning and the end as the final quarter got underway. An unchanged Lightning side mustered all they could to once again close the gap to just four however a series of mistakes opened up the opportunity Mavericks were looking for to run away with the ball and widen the gap once and for all to seal the win.

Full-time: Loughborough Lightning 51 – 64 Saracens Mavericks

Head Coach Sara Bayman was keen to highlight the game’s positives, despite the final score;

“I think today was frustrating because we did some really good stuff but we gave too much ball away. We knew today was going to be tough, Mavericks have been named one of the favourites this season but we also knew we had the game and determination to match them. I think we proved that in parts tonight but I think if you give a quality side like Mavs too much opportunity they’re going to use it to their advantage and run away with it as they did tonight.”

Regardless of the extreme physicality of the game, causing multiple cautions for both sides, Bayman was pleased with the effort put in from her side;

“I think Ella Clark had a really strong game, our defensive unit grew throughout the game seeing Vicki and Tuaine coming out with a lot of ball towards the end. Our mid-court generally just grafted which we wanted from this game but I think across the board everyone needs to take individual responsibility for their own errors tonight.”

Looking ahead to next week’s fixture, Bayman cited Sirens new signing as their secret weapon;

“I think Sirens is an exciting one as they’ve improved massively from last year and I think they’ll upset a few teams this season. They’ve got a massive target shooter in terms of Cat Tuivaiti so we’re going to need to win ball a bit earlier up the court. Hopefully, we can fix a few things in training this week and go into next week feeling confident.”

Lightning are back in action next weekend on home turf as they welcome Strathclyde Sirens to Loughborough University. The match will form part of the Pink Party event where we’ll be aiming to raise as much money as we can for Cancer Research UK. Fans are encouraged to wear pink and come early to join in all the games and activities before the main event at 6pm.

Tickets are selling fast so secure yours now: www.loughboroughlightning.com

Photo credit: Loughborough University 

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Q&A: Lightning’s Ella Clark

Loughborough Lightning have contested back-to-back Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Finals but have narrowly missed out to Wasps Netball in both 2017 and 2018.

With a new Director of Netball, Sara Bayman, in charge, the East Midlands-based club are ready and raring to go in 2019.

Ahead of the season, we caught up with Ella Clark to get her thoughts on the team’s strengths and ambitions.

What are the team’s main strengths?

I think people this year won’t really know what to expect from us because we’ve had a whole overhaul of players and have got a new team chemistry and new combinations so no one will really know what to expect and that might cause problems in how to defend and attack against us. We’ve got quite a few hidden strengths – I want to say hidden because they haven’t had that much exposure so it’ll be interesting to see how they fare.

How are you feeling about the new season?

Definitely excited! Pre-season is almost as long as the season so when the season comes around, I’m ready for it!

What are your hopes and aims for 2019?

Third time lucky?! We definitely want to get to that top four. I mean everyone’s going to say that they want to win it but we’ve missed out two years in a row now so we’re just clawing at it. We want that medal around our necks this time. 

What’s it like working with new Director of Netball Sara Bayman?

Sara’s cool – she’s obviously been a player for many years so we get that experience and she’s trying to hand that experience over to us which is nice. She’s good in the way that she interacts as obviously we’ve got some young players and she’s good at pushing them forward in what we need to do to get better. She’s found out what we need to work on and is really pushing us with that.

You can get tickets to watch all 10 teams in action at the Super 10 season opener here.

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Lightning gearing up for semi-final against Thunder

Loughborough Lightning Netball are gearing up for the biggest home game in their history on Saturday 30th June, as they take on Manchester Thunder in a semi-final clash that sees a place in the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final up for grabs.

Currently on an 11 game winning running run, Lightning know that victory over Thunder at the Leicester Arena is all that stands between them and a place in the final, where they’ll be out to go one better than last year’s runner-up finish.

Having defeated Wasps earlier this month, the side they lost out to in the final 12 months ago, the Loughborough University franchise go into the Saturday’s semi-final full of confidence.

England’s Ella Clark discussed Lightning’s recent good form:

“We’re definitely very happy with how the season’s gone since the Commonwealth Games break and we’re carrying a lot of momentum heading into this game. With 11 wins on the trot we can’t complain at all and the atmosphere within our squad is really good.

“I missed the semi-finals and finals last year after getting hurt in the last regular game of the season. That was very disappointing but I’m healthy and ready for this part of the season this time round. I hate sitting on the side-lines no matter what it is I’m doing, so I can’t wait to be part of the team this time and hopefully contribute to a successful end to the campaign.”

Everyone knows Thunder make formidable opposition however, so victory in Leicester on Saturday certainly isn’t a forgone conclusion. Of what it’ll take to secure the win Clark added:

“It’s going to take a lot of running and a lot of grit! Thunder are a very good team and they’ve played together for a long time so they have that connection – we’ve just got to be very clinical with what we do.”

With Lightning fans gifted one last chance to see Lightning play at home this season, Clark urged supporters to get their tickets and roar the team to glory on Saturday night.

“I’m expecting a lot of noise from our fans this weekend. Thunder will bring a group of away fans and they’ll be loud, but we’ll hopefully outnumber them and be even louder, especially if we can get that drum going!”

Tickets for Lightning’s biggest home game in history are available now by clicking here or heading to www.loughboroughlightning.com.

The race to reach the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final is heating up – don’t miss out on the season-ending spectacular and get your tickets now!