Lightning beat Thunder to win back-to-back Netball Super League titles

Loughborough Lightning lift the Super League trophy

Loughborough Lightning have won historic back-to-back Netball Super League (NSL) titles following a gripping 54-70 win over Manchester Thunder on Saturday evening.

In front of a bumper crowd of over 8,000, Vic Burgess’ side dominated a thrilling final to secure their third title in four years.

Lightning started brightly, looking slick throughout, as offensive duo Rhea Dixon and Mary Cholhok both proved to be constant menaces to Thunder’s defence.

In a truly absorbing encounter, Loughborough continued to control the contest, leading 33-27 at the half-time whistle.

Lightning continued in fine form and stretched their lead in the third quarter – inspired by the imperious Nat Panagarry – before closing out the game in style to write their names into the history books once again.

 “Unbelievable, to win a final against a team like Thunder is always tough," head coach Vic Burgess told BBC Sport.

"To get a 16-goal win in a final is unbelievable. Back-to-back, which is exactly what we set out to do, so I'm very proud. They deserve it - they're a formidable team."

It is the first time a team has won consecutive titles since 2016 and captain Nat Panagarry told the BBC this was always Lightning’s goal.

"We had a talk about a month ago. We were literally like ‘this is not good enough’. We weren’t speaking about going back-to-back - it wasn’t in the language as much as it was at the start of the season," she said.

"The staff put ownership on us and said ‘do you actually want to win this? Don’t be scared of it and own it’. So for four weeks we’ve had the trophy at training sessions and weights, we’ve been seeing it, wanting it and keeping it at ours."

Rhea Dixon was awarded the Kissimmee Player of the Match following a 95% success shooting performance at Goal Attack.

Loughborough Lightning’s starting 7:

GK: Alice Harvey

GD: Nicola Smith

WD: Beth Cobden

C: Nat Panagarry

WA: Hannah Joseph

GA: Rhea Dixon

GS: Mary Cholhok

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