Lightning back to winning ways after facing a strong Rhinos team

Image by Morgan Harlow

Lightning make a third quarter comeback to defeat Leeds Rhinos 63-49 on Mother's Day at the Sir David Wallace Arena.

Lightning’s home game against Leeds Rhinos in the seventh round of the Netball Super League comes on Mother’s Day at Sir David Wallace Arena.  The game was set to be an exciting one with Leeds Rhinos sitting at the bottom of the table and Lighting looking to add another win to continue climbing the table. The Rhinos went into today’s game with mixed results at the start of the league, aiming to seal the win and leave the bottom of the table.  

The game also marks the momentous occasions of Nat Panagarry’s 150th Netball Super League appearance as well as Alice Harvey’s 50th Lightning appearance. These two great achievements highlight all the hard work of both individuals and show their continued strong performances through each game. 

Throughout the first quarter, Rhino’s domineering attack and a quick succession of passion across all sections of the court prove a challenge for the Lightning defence to contend with the never-ending attack. Harvey and Williams were called into action within the quarter and aimed to create turnovers in play to strengthen the Lightning attack. With Cholhok providing the usual flurry of goals against the Rhino’s defence. 

Panagarry and Cholhok create a vital link-up play in the attacking third during the final few moments of the quarter and this places Lightning with a positive amount of build-up play to take into the next quarter.

Q1: Loughborough Lightning 14 – 16 Leeds Rhinos

Two changes at the start of the second quarter with Alice Harvey exiting the court for Zan Vimbela as goal keeper and Rhea Dixon taking the place of Emma Thacker as goal attack. The changes brought new energy to both the Lightning attack and defence and so Lightning levelled the score halfway through the quarter. Panagarry works tirelessly as always to keep Lightning in the game in the hope of taking the lead.

A challenge to Vimbela brought a fast-paced Lightning attack resulting in another Cholhok goal adding to Lightning’s tally. However, the pace of the game remained mixed with both teams fighting for each goal and manage to sustain the fierce play within all positions. Joseph, Dixon and Cholhok make up one of the many Lightning attacks towards the Rhino’s goal and prove hard to defend against with the Lightning defence staying concentrated.

Only one goal separated the two sides at half time and the play built along with the excitement in the Sir David Wallace Sports Arena. 

Q2: Loughborough Lightning 29 – 30 Leeds Rhinos

Another change brings Emma Thacker back onto the court for Rhea Dixon at goal attack. A Rhino’s shot on goal bounces off the rim and falls to the hands of Williams as the team pace down the court in search of another goal to level the score. William’s defensive efforts proved vital for Lightning’s increasing lead and quick thinking passing strengthens the run of play. 

Panagarry intercepted a crucial pass in the centre court and fired the ball forward towards the Lightning attack and Cholhok calmly finished. Thacker looked to be gaining confidence with some long shots that convert into a string of goals with Joseph and Panagarry commanding the centre court. Odeogbrien’s movement within the defensive third leads the Rhino’s attack astray and gave Lightning the run of play. Lightning headed into the final quarter and looked like the favourites for the win with the third quarter being the strongest yet.

Q3: Loughborough Lightning 45 – 41 Leeds Rhinos

As we entered the final quarter both teams looked up to the battle and to secure the win. A turnover in play allowed the Rhinos to bring the pace back to their game and the Rhino’s keeper completed interceptions that changed the run of play. Despite the strong opposition defence Lightning take the lead even further and capitalise on long balls into the attack that fell to the hands of Cholhok from Panagarry. Lightning’s confidence started to break down Rhino’s attacking threat and secured a comfortable ten-goal lead.

The final quarter was filled with drama, excitement, and an electric atmosphere that saw both teams retain a high standard of play right until the final whistle. Lightning managed to secure the win after an intense match of determination and confidence and have been able to build momentum after their last game and to take into the Surrey Storm match next week. A very engaging match from both teams on Mother’s Day on Loughborough campus.

Q4: Loughborough Lightning 63 – 49 Leeds Rhinos 

Head coach Vic Burgess reflects on where the game was won and lost;

‘’The first quarter they came out ahead and we probably didn’t have the work rate we said we would have at the start’’ and reflecting upon Leeds Rhino’s strong start to the game as well as Lightning’s determination to win the game and climb the table.

Burgess also commented on the turnaround performance of her team; 

‘’The first half wasn’t where we wanted to be. We spoke about it at half-time and they came out and really applied themselves’’ and brought the win through new tactics and discussing the problems.

Long Tall Sally’s Player of the Match was awarded to Nat Panagarry as she marked her 150th league appearance by winning the award for her continued court performance and fight to bring Lightning back for the win.

Also, the Gilbert Player of the Match was named Paige Reid for Leeds Rhinos and highlighted her strong performance throughout the game. 

Lightning are back in action on 25th March at home in the Sir David Wallace Sports Arena at 6pm to look to add another win to the tally.

Tickets to Lightning’s 2023 home campaign are on sale and can be purchased at:

Starting VII:

GS: Mary Cholhok

GA: Emma Thacker

WA: Hannah Joseph

C: Nat Panagarry

WD: Jas Odeogberin

GD: Fran Williams

GK: Alice Harvey