Loughborough Lightning achieve away win over Celtic Dragons

The twelfth round of the Netball Super League saw Loughborough Lightning defeat Celtic Dragons at House of Sport, Cardiff. With a final score of 48 - 65.

Lightning put on a strong performance across the court under the leadership of team captain Nat Panagarry. As of Monday night’s win, against the Welsh side, Lightning have achieved two consecutive away victories, bettering their position within the league ahead of their next home game on Sunday 23rd April against Strathclyde Sirens. 

Lightning started the game well, defensively disrupting the play of Celtic Dragons. Both teams went toe-to-toe for the beginning few minutes of the first quarter with conversions made from both Mary Cholhok and Emma Thacker. The game remained close with Lightning eventually breaking away from Dragons and widening the gap in the score line.  A turnover from Fran Williams added vital fuel to the fire, allowing Cholhok to later convert. Using her height to her advantage, Cholhok played a pivotal role in Lightning’s lead throughout the first quarter, bringing back countless points for her team. However, across the court Alice Harvey leaped into the air with perfect timing, successfully throwing the Dragons attack off course. 

The Lightning team as a whole showed their excellent teamwork and support for one another with a lot of communication, Panagarry as always did an effective job as captain keeping the team focussed. Panagarry and Hannah Joseph once again teamed up well together to expertly feed the ball into the attacking circle, with great movement from Cholhok and Thacker. Lightning led the way, finishing the first quarter with a five-point lead over Celtic Dragons.

Q1: Celtic Dragons 12 – 17 Loughborough Lightning

The second quarter was underway with no changes from Lightning head coach Vic Burgess as the girls began the quarter with the same intensity in which they finished the first. Celtic Dragons clearly had used the short break to focus on slowing down Lightning with a strong defensive performance. Whilst Lightning slowed slightly because of this, they still managed to power through with Cholhok earning two back-to-back conversions. The pace began to pick up on court as both teams worked tirelessly to add points to the board. Another display of teamwork came from again from Cholhok and Thacker as they worked around the opposition’s defence. 

Once again Williams showed her incredible defensive skills with an interception which allowed Thacker to convert. The Lightning defence worked hard to apply pressure to the Dragons attackers. Finding themselves in serious risk of held balls, Celtic Dragons began to find it increasingly difficult to make their shots. Jas Odeogberin stuck with her opponent well, playing with such intensity to cause a mistake from the home side. Cholhok saw out the second quarter with a last-second conversion, increasing Lightning’s lead to 10 points.

Q2: Celtic Dragons 24 – 34 Loughborough Lightning 

Quarter three starts with a substitution by Burgess of Joseph, with Rhea Dixon entering the court in her wing attack position. Lightning put on a dominant display by swiftly adding four points to the score line. Thacker showed her versatility on court with a well-timed interception which slowed down the Dragons attackers. Dixon made a noticeable impact to the game as she played a vital role in Lightning’s conversions from the moment she entered the court. Both teams continued to work hard with Lightning looking to further extend the 10-point gap from the first half of the game. Coming up against a tight defence, Celtic Dragons showed slow progression up the court as they found little chance for effective passes. The third quarter ended with Harvey and Williams maintaining their teamwork within the defensive circle to keep Dragons from adding a last-second point to the scoreboard. 

Q3: Celtic Dragons 37 – 52 Loughborough Lightning

The final quarter began with another change for Lightning with Zan Vimbela joining the court in place of Alice Harvey as goalkeeper. Celtic Dragons started to challenge Lightning, causing a struggle to get the ball up to Cholhok in the attacking circle. However, Cholhok swiftly converted to show that Lightning would not be knocked by the increased intensity of Dragons. Hannah Williams then joined her team on court as centre, replacing Panagarry. The fresh legs of H. Williams gave Lightning’s midcourt a boost as she played a big part in both attacking and defensive plays. Lightning managed to gain momentum after another shot from Cholhok before Dixon switched to goal attack for Thacker and Suzie Liverseidge entered the court as wing attack. Lauren Nicholls also joined the game as wing defence in place of Odeogberin. Lightning then finished the game against Celtic Dragons with a seven-point lead over the home team.

Q4: Celtic Dragons 48 – 65 Loughborough Lightning

With another away win for Lightning coach Vic Burgess, she shares her thoughts on the team’s performance:

“Very happy with that win, we won all of the quarters. In that last quarter we only won by one point, we did let it go a little bit and made some errors which I felt we could’ve made better decisions on. Our shooting stats lowered a little so definitely things to improve on there but otherwise a very good performance from the girls.”

Gilbert Player of the Match Fran Williams also commented on the team’s performance: 

“We made hard work of it, still some scrappy bits of play from us but we’re really happy to get the win on the back of two weeks of not playing.

“We’ve got really smart players; everyone knows their roles and when we get it right, we really are lethal because we know exactly where we want the ball to be landing.”

Loughborough Lightning are back in action at the Sir David Wallace Arena once more on Sunday 23rd April against Strathclyde Sirens. First centre pass is scheduled for 4pm.  

Tickets to Lightning’s 2023 home campaign are on sale now and can be purchased here.

Starting line-up:

GS: Mary Cholhok

GA: Emma Thacker

WA: Hannah Joseph

C: Nat Panagarry

WD: Jas Odeogberin

GD: Fran Williams

GK: Alice Harvey