A highly contested, top of the table clash sees Lightning take another win

Lightning substitutes cheering on their team from the sideline

Image by @touchlinepics

This week’s round six, highly anticipated match between Lightning and Thunder certainly did not disappoint, with both teams performing to the highest levels. Each team has now become a familiar favourite within the league, meaning that their contest showcased two strong, structured teams taking to court, yet in the end it was Lightning that came out on top.

Thunder opened the first quarter by looking to combat the tight-knit defence of Lightning, working well to gain an early lead. In response, Alice Harvey worked hard around Thunder’s circle edge, making impactful decisions that allowed Lightning to progress. 

Specifically, Thunder’s Josie Huckle proposed the main threat to Lightning’s attacking front, yet the away team rose to the challenge and manoeuvred around Thunder’s defence.

Elsewhere the skilful, mid-court work of captain Nat Panagarry and Hannah Joseph saw the ball fly down the court, with the final quarter drawing to a tight close, with Thunder leading by one point.

Moving forwards, Lightning looked to advance their score and break away from Thunder with the consistent precision of Mary Cholhok allowing them to do so . A steady stream of feeds from Joseph to Rhea Dixon, and then finally Cholhok saw Lightning progress, moving away from Thunder. 

As the second quarter continued, a skilful interception from Harvey helped to reinforce the dominance of Lightning, sending the ball straight back down the court with only a few minutes left of the first half. 

Half-time: Loughborough Lightning  34- 27 Manchester Thunder

The start of quarter three saw no changes to Lightning’s side, with head coach Vic Burgess sticking to her consistent, starting seven line up. Within the centre third, a tip-off from Dixon granted Lightning another shot at goal, as they placed some distance between themselves and their opponents. 

Across the court, the attacking skills on show were first-class, with both Lightning’s Cholhok and Thunder’s Lois Pearson working hard to add to the scoreboard. 

Striding out in front of their competition, Lightning had advanced by eleven points as the penultimate quarter drew to a close, a lead reflective of their determination and skill throughout the game. 

The final quarter saw Thunder attempt to close the apparent gap, pushing onwards and advancing their score. Annabel Roddy took over at goal defence for the talented Nicola Smith, hoping to fend off Thunder’s hopes of a last-minute recovery.  

In the end, it was Lightning that came out on top, rising to the challenge of competing in a high-adrenaline, away game on Thunder’s home turf: the Belle Vue Arena.

Full-time: Loughborough Lightning  64– 52 Manchester Thunder

After a masterful defensive performance, Alice Harvey was named this week’s Kissimmee Player of the match. When asked how it felt to play against such a physical, dominant Thunder side she remarked: 

“Yeah, it felt hard, especially as it was an away game. It can be quite intimidating, but tonight we had a really good level of confidence as a team”. 

Lightning head coach Vic Burgess commented on the team’s performance...

“I am really pleased with the squad’s performance today…I thought defensively we did a really good job to challenge Thunder, making us now level in the league”.

Up next, Lightning face Strathclyde Sirens away again at the Emirates Arena. Here, on Friday the 29th of March, they look to stick to winning ways, hopefully retaining their position within the league.

Starting line-up:   

GS: Mary Cholhok   

GA: Rhea Dixon   

WA: Hannah Joseph   

C: Nat Panagarry   

WD: Beth Cobden 

GD: Nicola Smith 

GK: Alice Harvey