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Sara Bayman: “We will now look ahead”

Loughborough Lightning showcased their new look team for the first time on Saturday in the first of their pre-season tournaments.

Eager to put their new combinations to the test, Lightning welcomed fellow Vitality Netball Superleague sides Team Bath and Strathclyde Sirens to Loughborough University for a tournament style fixture.

At the helm for the first time in their home venue, Head Coach Sara Bayman used each quarter as an opportunity to test combination and give all players crucial game time.

She said: “The aim of today was always to expose players, to work on combinations and to test some players out.

“I think we did that, we managed to get everyone on court, giving them some good court time and managed to get some different combinations out there and really have a look at people.”

Despite losing both their matches, Bayman cited the difference between the two matches as promising and encouraging.

She said: “I think there’s a mixed bag from today, everyone was really disappointed with our performance against Sirens and I think you saw a bit of rustiness from the girls as it’s a long time between finishing the Vitality Netball Superleague and playing again at this level.

“We had a much-improved performance against Bath and I think that’s a real indication of what we can really do moving forward.

“I think for me what was pleasing to see the reaction from game one to game two where the girls were really down after game one but that fight and spirit to come out and play really well against Bath was really pleasing.”

In the absence of Nat Panagarry due to international duties, Lightning were led by Hannah Joseph who makes up this year’s leadership group, alongside Vicki Oyesola who’s performance on the day really set the standard of what’s to come.

Bayman said: “In terms of standout performances, I think Vicki Oyesola had a fantastic day across both games and Hannah Joseph did a great job leading the team.

“Our shooting combinations are now starting to gel, they’re starting to find their way around the circle show us what they can do.”

Next weekend Lightning will travel to Manchester Thunder in their next pre-season fixture.

Drawing from the day’s events, Bayman is now planning for the forthcoming month, she said: “We will now look ahead to our away game against Thunder on Saturday which is another good test for us and another opportunity to improve and build.

“Over the next month or so it’s about every day improving and making sure we know our systems and know how we want to play and that everyone is clear and understands their role in all situations.

“It will be really nice to have Nat and Ella back from international duty and have some opportunity to get them back in the mix and enjoy working as a whole squad to build connections and build understanding.”

Tickets are now on sale for Super 10 – get your squad together and head to the season opener on Saturday 5th January 2019 at Arena Birmingham!

England's Sara Bayman

Loughborough Lightning appoint Bayman as new Director of Netball

Loughborough Lightning Netball are delighted to unveil Sara Bayman as their new Director of Netball ahead of the 2019 Vitality Netball Superleague season.

Bayman is a former England International and brings with her a wealth of top level playing experience. Boasting 84 caps with the England Roses, having competed in two World Cups and two Commonwealth Games, Sara hopes to apply her knowledge to the programme here at Loughborough University.

Lightning have missed out on the top prize in both the 2017 and 2018 Superleague, making it to the Grand Final on both occasions and narrowly missing out on the win. Having won the Superleague four times as a player with Team Bath and Manchester Thunder, Bayman will look to draw on her experience to guide Lightning to the top for the first time in 2019.

Moving to Loughborough in September from fellow Superleague side Sirens, where Bayman spent her 2018 season playing, Sara will spearhead a strong staff team including Pathway Head Coach Emily Perry who is currently developing the Lightning Netball Academy. Also applying her trade to the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) programme, Bayman will undertake the responsibility of guiding the University teams to the Championships where the student side claimed Gold in 2017.

Sara has been involved with age group level competition since a young age, having previously captained the England U21 side and therefore hopes to work closely with Perry to enhance the development and progression of the youth members within the Lightning and University programmes.

Of her new role Bayman said: “I’m really excited to join such an ambitious programme and work with some of the top athletes in the UK.

“Loughborough Lightning have shown a commitment to developing players and creating a strong team culture.

“I will look to build on this through my experiences at the top level and can’t wait to take Loughborough into the 2019 season.”

Of this key appointment Franchise Director Olivia Murphy commented: “I am extremely pleased to welcome Sara to Loughborough Lightning.

“Sara is a fantastic character and I have no doubt she will be a brilliant Director of Netball for us.

“I have worked with Sara previously and have seen that she is a great leader and role model.

“She has always shown great desire to improve herself and those around her and she has the platform at Loughborough to continue to strive to do this.

“I am very excited for the next chapter for Lightning under Sara’s leadership.”

Bayman will replace outgoing Head Coach Anna Carter in September, who leaves the franchise having guided the team to a second Grand Final in as many years.

Bayman’s first outing with the Lightning squad will be at the 2018 Fast 5 All Stars Competition in October, where the girls will be looking to defend their title.


Vote for Sky Sports Vitality Superleague Player of the Season

The shortlist is in for the Sky Sports Vitality Netball Superleague Player of the Season and Sky Netball have whittled it down to five of the league’s shining stars.

Loughborough Lightning’s Ama Agbeze, Manchester Thunder’s Sara Bayman, Team Bath’s Karla Mostert, Surrey Storm’s Sophia Candappa and Hertfordshire Mavericks’ Sammy Wallace are all up for the prize.

You can vote for your Player of the Season on the Sky Sports website here: http://www.skysports.com/netball/news/12415/10248613/vote-for-sky-sports-vitality-superleague-player-of-the-season


Thunder narrowly beat Dragons

Manchester Thunder took a narrow victory over Celtic Dragons on Saturday as they won 54-51.

Dragons fought right until the end and almost shocked the 2014 champions, only losing the second quarter – they drew the first and third and won the fourth.

Read the Manchester Thunder match report below:

Manchester Thunder laboured to a three goal win over Celtic Dragons in Cardiff.

Thunder displayed patches of fluid and dominant form but they failed to make it count and they only out-scored Dragons in one quarter.

It was a lacklustre and ultimately disappointing performance from the Black and Yellows and they will be relieved to leave Wales with a win.

Coach Dan Ryan expected more from his players, especially with consistency in all four quarters.

“Our focus going into the game was to be as clinical and consistent as possible as we haven’t won four quarters for a couple of weeks now and we were really conscious of winning all four today but it didn’t work out that way, which is pretty disappointing,” he said.

“We made a lot of basic errors on our decision making and we played into their hands and kept giving them opportunities. We didn’t learn from those mistakes and they kept happening. We need to rectify it as top ranked teams will punish us.”

Eyebrows were raised before the first whistle with coach Dan Ryan’s team selection. He chose Natalie Haythornthwaite as his shooter and dropped Helen Housby to the bench, with Kathryn Turner instead chosen to partner her in attack.

On the decision to play Haythornthwaite at shooter, Ryan said: “I’ve always been conscious to change the line-up so that does take away from continuity.

“Nat has been out at wing attack for the past couple of weeks and I wanted to get her back in a focused shooting role – she’s short and dynamic and camp play the circle well. I think she did some really good stuff for us in there.

New Zealand import Liana Leota was brought straight back into the team after two games out rested and it looked like an experimental and exciting attacking front line in equal measure.

Ryan’s gamble paid off to some extent, with Thunder starting with intent but they tailed off near the end of the opening quarter and the sides went in level at the break.

There were moments of personal brilliance from the Black and Yellows, with Sara Bayman – who was named player of the match, constantly probing and working to control the momentum of Thunder’s play.

It was a true captain’s performance from the England star. Ryan added: “She was solid across the board in defence and attack and she came up with key intercepts when Dragons were challenging or we were trying to push on.”

Ryan put faith in in-form Ellie Cardwell for the second half and despite doing little wrong, she was sacrificed for the more familiar shooting pairing of Helen Housby and Haythornthwaite in the final quarter as he attempted to put the tie to bed.

Thunder worked hard to edge themselves in front on several occasions throughout the match, including a 10-goal advantage in the final quarter, but they failed to push on and sloppy errors allowed Dragons to carry on puffing in the hope of a famous victory.

It was an ugly win for Thunder and they will need to be far more clinical against Team Bath when they visit the Thunderdome next weekend, to secure the three points.