This was Lightning defender Fran Williams' first appearance on court after being selected as a Vitality Rose for the Netball World Cup in Cape Town this summer. The fixture was also marked her 100th NSL appearance as well as Hannah Williams’ 50th cap for Lightning.
The game began with a first centre pass for Lightning which was quickly converted by Mary Cholhok to take the lead. Hannah Joseph made some effective feeds into the attacking circle to allow Cholhok to go on and score three back-to-back conversions. Rhea Dixon worked hard as goal attack to create plays in the attacking third and allow Cholhok to get under the post.
Quick hands from Alice Harvey stopped Storm in their tracks as the team got off to a strong start. She worked well in tandem with Jas Odeogberin as wing defence who as always kept tight to her player and added pressure where needed. Down the other end of the court, Dixon sent an effortless ball into Cholhok to add another point to the score line. A quick drive from Joseph put her in prime position to feed the ball into Cholhok with Lightning winning the ball in key places across the court. A missed shot from Storm closed off the first quarter with a nine-point lead for Lightning.
Q1: Surrey Storm 10 – 19 Loughborough Lightning
The second quarter started with two points from Storm as Lightning looked to find their stride. Tested by their opponents, Lightning made a good transition through the court. The gap in the score began to close slightly as both teams worked hard to make conversions. Captain Nat Panagarry led Lightning well as she ran through the attacking third to get the ball back into Cholhok.
Dixon and Cholhok worked well together in the circle yet again to save a point. Lightning began to gain some momentum as the team add vital points to the scoreboard. The second quarter saw a great contest on court with both Lightning and Storm putting up a fight.
Q2: Surrey Storm 25 – 33 Loughborough Lightning
Quarter three began with some quick play from Lightning with brilliant teamwork being shown on court. Dynamic Fran Williams played a key role in Lightning’s plays as she darted through her opponents to receive the ball from Panagarry. The Lightning attack used the circle well to get the ball past Storm defence to allow for another Cholhok conversion.
Lightning showed patience on the court as Joseph once again fed the ball into Cholhok. The lead for the away side grew with great pressure being applied in the defensive third. Harvey showed her great reach as her and Williams worked hard to disrupt the play of Storm. Lightning hit the 50-point marker in the third quarter with a stunning 45 of those coming from super shooter Cholhok. Lightning furthered their lead to 15 points with some strong play from across the court.
Q3: Surrey Storm 37 – 52 Loughborough Lightning
The final quarter began with a point for Storm as Lightning kept the same seven on court as they started. Some great play making came from Dixon as she worked her way through Storm’s defence once again. Impressive teamwork was shown on court by Lightning as they made conversion after conversion. Cholhok uses Panagarry well to allow herself to move closer to the post.
Emma Thacker entered the court in place of Dixon as goal attack and made her first signature long shot. Zan Vimbela also joined Lightning on court as goalkeeper for Harvey. Hannah Williams entered as centre for Panagarry as Suzie Liverseidge replaces Joseph. Soon after Odeogberin moved to goal defence as Fran Williams headed to the bench and Lauren Nicholls came on as wing defence.
Odeogberin played goal defence well as she got around the body of her opponent and adds pressure. She then managed to get her fingertips to the ball to intercept the play of Storm. Cholhok made a last-second conversion from a good distance. Lightning took the victory over Storm.
Q4: Surrey Storm 46 – 64 Loughborough Lightning
With another win over Surrey Storm for Lightning coach Vic Burgess, she shares her thoughts on the team’s performance:
“For us it was about building a good start and then being able to capitalise on that throughout the game. The second quarter Storm came back at us, and they won that quarter by one so that’s a credit to them.
“Half time we just spoke about not getting involved in drama and making sure that we’re just sticking to the plan and doing what we do best.”
Gilbert Player of the Match Fran Williams also commented:
“It’s just amazing to win again and in my hundredth appearance! I’m just so grateful to both the clubs at Wasps and Loughborough, they’ve given me opportunities in the Super League, and they’re clubs that I’m really proud to play for and represent.
“Thanks to everyone for backing me, it’s been such a good contest and I’m just so excited for the summer. For now, I’m just focussing on each game with Loughborough and if we can keep putting out performances like that then I’ll be super proud.”
Loughborough Lightning are back in action at the Copper Box Arena on Saturday 27th May against table toppers London Pulse. First centre pass is scheduled for 6pm.
Tickets to Lightning’s 2023 home campaign are on sale now and can be purchased here.
GS: Mary Cholhok
GA: Rhea Dixon
WA: Hannah Joseph
C: Nat Panagarry
WD: Jas Odeogberin
GD: Fran Williams
GK: Alice Harvey