Loughborough Lightning Rugby celebrated their second victory of the season on Saturday after a thrilling 30-19 win over visitors Firwood Waterloo.
Both teams began their season campaigns as newcomers to the league, Lightning as a new team in its entirety and Waterloo moving up after topping the Championship table and whilst neither side boast a straight set of wins, Lightning ran onto the pitch as the favourites after a victory in their opening match.
A slow start to the match saw possession volley between each side, with neither team managing to progress past the first phase for a number of minutes. Nine minutes passed before Waterloo finally broke into Lightning’s 22 after applying a constant pressure to Lightning’s defence. Finding a break in the line, Waterloo were the first to cross the line, twelve minutes into the match, claiming the first points of the day.
An elevated opposition then continued to pressure the Lightning defence, dotting the ball down for a second time just 5 minutes later, before claiming a hat-trick of trys at the 26th minute. Unphased by their opponent’s sudden surge on the scoreboard, Lightning’s Hannah Phillip soon pushed the home side into Waterloo’s half after an interception and tactical kick on the half way line. After this point, the opposition began to suffer at the hands of Natasha Jones, who broke through Waterloo’s defensive line in the 30th minute. A scrappy opening half ended with Waterloo in the lead by fourteen points.
Half-Time: Lightning 5 – 19 Firwood Waterloo
It was a game of two halves as both teams returned to the pitch. Eager to impress the home crowd, Lightning had a lot of ground to cover to return them into their winning ways. They began the half, dominant and determined and in the nine minutes that followed, spectators were treated to decisive and powerful plays that saw Lightning’s O’Donnell and Hunter cross the line in a matter of minutes, bringing the score to within two.
A previously confident Waterloo now needing to readjust and regain composure, were too little too late as Lightning’s Olivia Jones quickly added to the tally with a third try in just seven minutes, pushing them into the lead for the first time in the game.
Not ready to give up however, Firwood continued to pressure the home side, their forwards using their physical advantage to block any advances from the girls in purple. Quick footwork from Hannah Phillip however, pushed Lightning closer to the line with just eight minutes remaining on the clock. Handing off to England 7’s powerhouse Celia Quansah, who flew across the line, Lightning celebrated their fourth try of the half, extending their lead by eight.
Two minutes remained as Williams sent the ball sailing through the posts after being awarded a penalty and thus closing the day’s scoring. As the final whistle sounded an elated Lightning celebrated their second win of the season after an impressive second half comeback.
Final Score: 30 – 19
Leading the way with fancy footwork and an impressive display of skill, Hannah Phillip was rightfully awarded MVP. Speaking of the half time turnaround, Phillip had nothing but praise for her teammates;
“Today was defiantly a game of two halves! Waterloo had the go forward for the first half pinning us down in our 22. But after half time we came out a new team and played our own game. We knew we had to execute everything practiced over the last few weeks well to win. Everybody really stepped up and took responsibility for their roles and I am really proud of everyone!”
Head Coach Rhys Edwards also shared his thoughts on the day’s events;
“It was good to get the win; we had a couple of things to work on after the Saracens game especially in defence so that was our focus for this week. In the first half we didn’t do so well, letting Waterloo in with some pretty soft trys but we used half time to refocus and to come out and get the win after that was very pleasing.
Hannah Phillip defensively today was a standout player for me, making some big hits and that really spurred the rest of the side on.
We have some exciting players in the squad who can score trys so the challenge now is to make sure we can get as much possession as possible and that’s what we’ve been guilty of the past couple of games.”
Lightning are back in action on 21st October as they travel to Twyford Avenue to face Wasps in the fifth round of the Tyrrells Premier 15s competition.
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