Leicester Mercury

City take huge step to top-four finish



LOUGHBOROU­GH Lightning claimed their 13th win in a row as they brushed aside Surrey Storm 53-28 to remain second in the Vitality Netball Superleagu­e.

Lightning also put to bed memories of their “ugly” 50-41 victory over Severn Stars at the Copper Box Arena on Sunday.

Returning to the venue for Monday’s match, a 16-7 first quarter was created off the back of tenacious work from Lightning’s Beth Cobden and Sam May in defence, and an instant connection in attack between Hannah Williams, Suzie Liverseidg­e and Mary Cholhok.

The first pause did little to quell Lightning’s momentum, and when their lead stretched out to 17 goals, Storm decided to change their lineup in a bid to hit back.

Niamh Cooper shifted to centre, Nicole Humphreys arrived at WD, and Ellie Kelk at shooter.

However, the goals continued to rack up against them and Storm went into the half-time break with a lot to think about.

Further changes arrived for Storm in the third quarter, including the introducti­on of Felisitus Kwanga into their defensive end, and they started the second half with renewed vigour.

Alima Priest, who was unrelentin­g in her pursuit of turnover ball against Cholhok, led by example at goal keeper and the presence of Kwanga in front of her added a new dimension, which resulted in a tighter quarter. Lightning settled towards the end of the third though, and continued to show their versatilit­y as the game progressed.

Cobden’s move to centre allowed Loughborou­gh captain Nat Panagarry to hustle at WD, while Ella Clark’s time at shooter highlighte­d yet another option that coach Sara Francis-Bayman can turn to during the latter stages of the season.

Francis-Bayman was pleased with her team’s turnaround after a disappoint­ing performanc­e on Sunday.

She said: “We started really well today, we looked like we had a lot more flow to our game.

“I think the first half was really pleasing. We made changes at halftime which took a little bit of time to bed and I’m disappoint­ed that we got a few niggles out of today but, overall, I’m really happy with how we came through with a performanc­e.”

Reflecting on her changes throughout the game, Francis-Bayman said: “I think Hannah Williams started well tonight, her combinatio­n with Suzie worked nicely and that’s what we wanted to have a look at.

“I’m excited about Beth Cobden getting some time at centre and it’s just about us getting people out there so that come hopefully the latter part of the season, they’re good to go and we’ve got lots of options that we can put against those top teams.”

■ Loughborou­gh Lightning are back in action on Monday, May 17 when they face London Pulse at 7.15pm in round 16. Watch the match live on Sky Sports and Sky Sports YouTube.

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 ?? BEN LUMELY ?? DOMINANT: Loughborou­gh Lightning were too good for Surrey Storm
BEN LUMELY DOMINANT: Loughborou­gh Lightning were too good for Surrey Storm

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