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Lightning vs Thunder Mary Cholhok

Lightning end Thunder’s unbeaten run with second half comeback

Loughborough Lightning secured their third win of the season on Saturday night, knocking Manchester Thunder from the top spot in doing so with a 65 – 60 victory. Travelling to the north west, Lightning were eager to put last week’s loss behind them and bring their A game against a strong unbeaten Thunder. With a strong history of closely fought matches and shock results between the two sides, this clash showed matched that description right down to a tee.

Coming off the back of a tough loss at home last weekend to Team Bath, Lightning had all to play for and a lot to prove going into this weekend’s match. Renowned for their loud crowds and physical play, Manchester Thunder had yet to secure a loss all season and were looking to continue with their streak.

Sitting just behind defending champions, Wasps in the league table, Thunder went into the match flying high and began the game with a ferocity like no other. Eager not to let mistakes get the better of them this time, a solid start for Lightning gave them the confidence needed to match Thunder goal for goal for much of the opening quarter. Dynamic duo, Clark and Cholhok worked closely together to cover off all areas of the circle, despite Lightning alumni Rebekah Airey’s best attempts. Down at the other end of the court, Keenan fended off the physical digs from Thunder attack to keep her cool and force error in their attack. The quarter ended with both sides level.

End of Q1: Loughborough Lightning 16 – 16 Manchester Thunder

Eager to push on and put the score-line in their favour, Lightning made no changes to their line-up and instead looked to continue with their style of play and look for every chance possible to steal the ball. With the notorious ‘Thunder drum’ ramping up its presence it was down to captain Nat Panagarry to match the noise providing words of encouragement throughout the court as her team continued to keep their composure and press on into half-time.

Half-time: Loughborough Lightning 32 – 34 Manchester Thunder

The team returned for the second half with no changes once again, despite Thunder making changes to its line-up with England Roses cohort Laura Malcolm and Ellie Cardwell taking to court. Famous for their 3rd quarter break through’s the crowd were soon on the edge of their seats as Lightning quickly took the lead for the first time.

With Joseph and Shaw sending smooth looped balls into Cholhok who was supported by Clark’s ability to sink a ball from the edge of the circle, the score line stayed in Lightning’s favour for much of the quarter. Meanwhile at the opposite end, Thunder increased their physicality in a bid to fend off Lightning defence. Ignoring the rough and tumble, Keenan and Oyesola covered off Thunder’s attacking circle forcing balls wide and stopping play at every opportunity.

End of Q3: Loughborough Lightning 50 – 47 Manchester Thunder

Just three goals ahead the game was far from secure and Lightning had to muster all their reserve energy to press on and steal the victory from the home side. Once again, the starting seven returned to court with a fierce determination on their faces. With both sides fighting tooth and nail to hold the ball, three minutes passed without either side scoring a goal, however that didn’t last long. Capitalising on cautions and penalties from Thunder’s increasing brutality, Lightning opened up the scoring. Thunder retaliated quickly, closing the gap to just a single point with seven minutes to go before calling a stop to play to make changes to their shooters in a last-ditch attempt to salvage the game. Ignoring the fresh legs and changes to play, Lightning seized the opportunity to push on and left a floundering Thunder to adjust, widening the gap to 5 points. Finally, the last whistle sounded and Lightning were named victorious.

Full-time: Loughborough Lightning 65 – 60 Manchester Thunder

Returning to her old stomping ground, this time as Head Coach for the opposition, Lightning’s Sara Bayman’s reaction at the final whistle was one for the cameras;

“I think we were a lot more clinical tonight across the entire game, we took much more ball to goal and defensively we put them under a lot of pressure which really told in the final quarter. It was definitely a performance the girls should be proud of tonight.

“It’s been a tough week, it’s always the case after a loss. We’ve worked hard gone back to basics and gotten it clear in our minds what we want to achieve in both attack and defence. We’ve done a lot on just believing how good we are and that we can match up to some of the stronger sides, we’re a very good team and we just need to consistently show it. Hopefully today we did show that and we probably sent some shockwaves through the league at the same time.”

Captain Nat Panagarry touched on the importance of tonight’s win going into the next few rounds;

“We know when we come to Thunder that it’s going to be loud and it’s going to be physical and we’ve been training really hard this last week. We knew our performance against Bath last week wasn’t good enough and you can get punished in this league as that showed. Hopefully tonight we’ve sent a message out and showed what we’re capable of and what we can do.”

Lightning are back on the road next weekend as they travel to Surrey Sports Park to face Surrey Storm. Currently equal on points, the clash is set to be another nail-biting encounter.

Lightning return home on Saturday 2nd March to welcome new side London Pulse to Loughborough University. Tickets are on sale now and can be found here: www.loughboroughlightning.com.

Tickets are now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Big Easter Weekend!

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

Sam Bird - clivejonespr

Severn Stars look to bounce back against Surrey Storm

Severn Stars will look to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat when they take on Surrey Storm on Saturday (16 February).

The Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) side will be playing their second home game at the University of Gloucestershire Sports Arena (6pm centre pass), with another sell-out crowd expected.

Stars’ were left frustrated when they lost to Manchester Thunder at the University of Worcester Arena last Saturday (9 February) by 49-62. Head Coach, Sam Bird, has been working on a number of strategies during training this week to put in a successful performance in front of a home crowd.

Severn Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, said: “We will be looking to expand the periods of very good play we put out against Manchester Thunder on Saturday. We have been working on our strategies to give ourselves the best chance to perform strongly against Storm and we are looking forward to the match.

“The last game at Gloucester was great in terms of the crowd being very close to the courtside and creating a great atmosphere for us to play in. We hope to use the home support to our advantage this week.”

Bird added: “Both teams have South African import players so will be familiar with the style of play and each other’s preferred way to play.”

The Severn Stars are a joint franchise between the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire.

For tickets visit www.ticketline.co.uk/netball-superleague-severn-stars#bio.

Tickets are now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Big Easter Weekend!

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

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Third quarter key for Thunder

Manchester Thunder stunned Severn Stars with a third quarter domination to win 49-62 – but made hard work of it at The Worcester Arena.

The first quarter was almost like watching a game of tennis as both sides consistently traded turnovers, neither making use of their centre pass possession. Eleanor Cardwell earned herself a starting spot at goal shooter after an impressive display against Pulse earlier in the week, however, feeders Liana Leota and Caroline O’Hanlon struggled to find the shooter’s range early on.

The Stars defence were keeping the Thunder shooters quiet with Jodi-Ann Ward given the task of marking Kathryn Turner. At the first quarter break, Thunder just edged the lead by a solitary goal 12-13.

Head Coach Karen Greig kept faith with the same seven for the start of the second quarter after a few home truths during the break. After nine minutes with the scores level, she’d seen enough and brought on Joyce Mvula at goal shooter with Cardwell moving to goal attack. The changes had an immediate impact and Thunder moved through the gears to quickly build a seven-goal lead by the half time whistle 22-29.

Thunder continued to gain momentum in the third, Malcolm coming on at wing defence had an impact while Greig tried a new option at centre with Carter moving up the court. Stars had no answer to Mvula as she dominated the shooting circle. Almond had to be replaced by Rebekah Airey towards the end of the quarter due to a blood injury but Thunder kept the scoreboard ticking over consistently and built up a lead of 17 by the end of the third quarter going into the final break – 33-50.

For the final quarter, Airey moved to goal defence replacing the ever-present Dovey while Turner returned to the goal attack position. Stars flew out of the blocks for the final quarter putting three quick goals on the board, while Thunder seemed to be admiring their lead. Thunder missed the speed of O’Hanlon through the middle as the game went on, but were able to try out several combinations giving valuable court time to the squad. With the Thunder bench barking instructions the partnership of Almond and Airey grew in confidence and the defensive unit started to shut down the options for Stars.

Head Coach Karen Greig said: “We were slow out of the blocks and our timing was off, we were slack on attacking the ball and our placement. We had to change something as we brought Joyce on and moved Eleanor out to goal attack and it made the impact we needed at that point. It enabled us to pull away at the end of the second quarter”

“We had a great third quarter, it has been our bogey quarter in the last few games, we really stepped up the pressure. Amy Carter had a good game at both wing defence and centre and really shut down their play. We were just wasteful in attack, which is really disappointing to see and a really disappointing last quarter when we should have seen out the game comfortably.”

“We need to look at our connections in training this week as our game against Loughborough next week is not going to be an easy one.”

Thunder Starting 7:
GS Cardwell, GA Turner, WA Leota C O’Hanlon WD Carter GD Dovey GK Almond.
Bench: Airey, Malcolm, McAndrew, Mvula, Thomas

Severn Stars Starting 7:
GS Rowe, GA Holzthausen WA Darroch C Harris WD Powell-Davies GD Ward GK Cook
Bench: Adio, Gabriel, Moseley, O’Dwyer, Muskwe

Tickets are also now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Big Easter Weekend!

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

Maryka Holtzhausen 1 - clivejonespr.com

Patience is Key, Says Severn Stars’ Captain

Severn Stars’ Captain, Maryka Holtzhausen, says patience will be key as her team looks for its second win of the season, when they take on Manchester Thunder this weekend.

The South African star, who missed the first two games due to international duties in the Quad Series, made a winning return in her first game back, against Celtic Dragons.

Holtzhausen says for the team to continue their winning ways against second-placed side Thunder, on Saturday (February 9, 6pm), they must be patient in both attack and defence.

“Our match against Thunder will be a good challenge for us,” she said.  “They are a team who have been playing together for a long time. One of their strengths is their patience with the ball on attack and relentless defence.

“Patience is key for us – on attack and defence. On attack we will need to keep possession, no matter how hard we need to work to get it to goal, and on defence we will need to be patient, trusting our structure and work hard till we turn ball over.”

This will be Stars’ second home game of the season, and its first at the University of Worcester Arena, its home venue for the last two seasons.  This year matches are being played at both the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire, who co-own the franchise

After snow saw last week’s match against Team Bath postponed, Stars will be hoping to pick up where they left off two weeks ago, when they sealed their first win of the season against Celtic Dragons 57-40, at the University of Gloucestershire Arena.  Thunder will come to the game full of confidence too, having won all three of their matches so far this season.

“We’re excited to be back at the University of Worcester Arena, and hoping to get a win for the fans there as well,” said Holtzhausen. “There is a great atmosphere in the squad, especially after a great home win. And having our match against Bath postponed due to snow has really got us excited about getting out there again.

“Although we would like to have played last week that is how it is. We can only be positive about it and see it as an extra week of training to improve in all areas of our game plan. I can’t wait to get out there for our next match though.”

She added that, in order to back up their first win, Stars were continually looking to improve.

She said: “It’s great to train in such a positive environment.  Obviously there are still many things we would like to improve on and be better at going into the next game, but we are working on doing those things better in training every week.  I believe a good aim is continued improvement, sticking to structures and implementing the game plan each week. If we stick to what we do best the results will speak for themselves.”

For tickets visit www.ticketline.co.uk/netball-superleague-severn-stars#bio

Tickets are also now available for the Vitality Netball Superleague Big Easter Weekend!

Make sure you’re following the Vitality Netball Superleague on Twitter for the latest news and updates!