Lightning continue their unbeaten start to the Netball Super League season with an away win over Strathclyde Sirens

Image by Craig Watson

On Monday, Lightning travelled north to face Strathclyde Sirens in their second away game of the 2023 Netball Super League season. Lightning put out an impressive performance, earning a hard-fought victory over Sirens who brought a lot of intensity and tempo to the game.

Lightning went into the game unbeaten following two impressive performances against Team Bath and Celtic Dragons. Head Coach just made one change to the starting seven, with Rhea Dixon replacing Emma Thacker at goal attack.

A cagey first quarter with both teams defending and hustling hard to prevent opposition feeding their shooters. Sirens were fast out of the blocks and offered a lot of intensity and tempo. The home side fought hard to stay in contention but Lightning held strong with Fran Williams and Alice Harvey ensuring their defence held strong and prevented Sirens from taking a score advantage. 

End of Q1: Sirens 13 – 18 Lightning

A transitional start with plenty of turnovers from both teams. Fran Williams interceptions again proved pivotal for Lightning to create opportunities. Sirens tenacity out of possession mean Lightnings midcourt had to work really hard to find Rhea and Mary under the post.  Lightning’s patience then started to pay off as they began to find their flow, using Mary Cholhoks’s reach to their advantage and she ensured Lightning extended their lead. Fran Williams and Alice Harvey continued soaking up the Sirens pressure to thwart any opportunities to threaten which allowed Lightning to go into half time with an 11-point lead.

End of Q2: Sirens 24 – 35 Lightning

Sirens continue to fight back but yet again, Lightning’s defence showed excellent hustle and strength to keep Sirens at bay. Lightning’s experienced mid-court Nat Panagarry and Hannah Joseph linked well with Rhea Dixon and Mary Cholhok to add to Lightnings threat going forward. Sirens struggling to deal with Mary Cholhok’s physical presence under the post and Lightning managed to extend their lead to 19 points at the end of the quarter.

End of Q3: Sirens 31 – 50 Lightning

Vic Burgess made two substitutions before the start of the final quarter. Hannah Williams entered the court at C, with Nat Panagarry moving to WD. Emma Thacker was also introduced and replaced Rhea Dixon at GA. The beginning of the quarter brought on a period of frustration for Lightning which allowed Sirens to capitalise in attack and continue to threaten Lightning’s defence. However, Alice Harvey and Fran Williams worked tirelessly to restrict Sirens to shots from range. Burgess then made two further subs as Zan Vimbela replaced Alice Harvey at GK, and Suzie Liverseidge took the WA bib from Hannah Joseph. Lightning continued to move the ball up the court at tempo and created ample opportunities for Emma Thacker to show her shooting ability from range as she successfully converted to extend Lightnings lead further.

End of Q4: Sirens 42 – 63 Lightning

Fran Williams was awarded player of the match by both Sirens and Lightning after an impressive, dominant, defensive performance.

Vic Burgess highlighted the challenges that Sirens posed Lightning and emphasised how Lightning were able to adapt to their threats: 

“It’s always a tough game when you go up to Sirens away, with the impact of travelling but granted I know that these guys do it all the time. But yeah, I think it was a good start and they brought it to us defensively and challenged us in ways that forced us to go back quite a lot and not be as punchy as we usually are towards the goal but we did a good job of adapting to that especially during the second half of the game we adapted to what they were doing and started taking the ball down the court more fluidly so I was really pleased with that.” 

Burgess was also keen to highlight the depth within the squad, with substitutions making great impacts:

“We also had some good changes in the second half with Zan coming in at goal keeper, and Emma coming in at goal attack and then moving across to shooter. Then, giving Nat some opportunity at wing defence too with Hannah Williams coming in at centre so I was pleased with the changes and the win. The girls expressed some really good behaviours on court today by running down every ball and backing each other up 100%” 

Looking ahead to Friday’s fixture against Saracens Mavericks, Burgess is ready to put plans into action:

“First job is to review today’s game, then we will be looking to Mavs and what they’ll put out against us and how we can counteract that. Lots of video prep, put that into training on Wednesday and then take it to them on Friday, so it’s a nice quick turnaround!”

Games are coming thick and fast for Lightning as we return back to Loughborough this Friday 24th February to face Saracens Mavericks at the Sir David Wallace Arena, 7:30pm. 

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Starting 7:

GS: Mary Cholhok

GA: Rhea Dixon

WA: Hannah Joseph

C: Nat Panagarry

WD: Jas Odeogberin

GD: Fran Williams

GK: Alice Harvey