16 Mar 2024

Loughborough Lightning 71 Rhinos Netball 55

Leeds Rhinos suffered a defeat on the road away to Loughborough Lightning, after a physical and athletic battle in round five of the netball super league. Under the cameras of the BBC for the first time in the clubs history Rhinos were determined to perform well. A dominant display from Lightning in the third quarter solidified the home sides win despite a resilient Rhinos charging towards them. 

Liana Leota made changes to her starting line up with Amelia hall starting the fixture at wing attack, Caroline O’Hanlon picked up the centre bib and Cassie Howard moved down the court into the wing defence position.

Joyce Mvula put Rhinos first centre pass through the net, Harriet Jones then found Mvula from distance but an error in the circle gave Lightning possession before we could set the shot up. Dominant play from Loughborough saw them reach a six goal lead with ten minutes left to play in the first period (10-4). The mid-court found Mvula with ease under the post twice in a row which saw the gap remain at six. Geva Mentor and Zoe Davies paired up to create a turnover which Mvula finished off. Quick hands from Jones and a rebound from Mvula kept the Rhinos scoreboard ticking. Mvula slotted one away in the last second of the quarter which meant we entered the first break seven goals behind the home side 20-13.

Cassie Howard moved to Centre for the start of the second quarter, Caroline O’Hanlon moved to wing attack and Michelle Magee entered the game at wing defence. An attacking contact from Lightning and a long shot from Jones gave the on court squad confidence. The next phase saw Mentor, Davies and Magee combine to force Lightning off the sideline and after patient play the gap was reduced to just five (23-17). Pinpoint placement from both sides saw the difference unchanged, until Lightning drew first blood and created a turnover. Magic Magee kept the ball on court but we couldn’t reach the shooting circle. Tactical changes were made by Leota with Michelle Magee moving to goal defence, Sarah MacPhail entered the court at wing defence and Emma Magee took the goal attack bib. E.Magee landed her first shot of the game after the defensive changes gained possession. Mentor made a turnover with two seconds remaining of the first half, despite a penalty being called Magee forced a missed shot resulting in the half time score being 37-28 in favour of the home side. 

Loughborough made changes to start the second half which allowed them to extend their lead out to eleven. The on court seven worked tirelessly to try reduce the gap but a dominant Mary Cholhok for Lightning proved difficult to stop. A couple of unforced errors for Rhinos and an impressive display from the home side saw the deficit grow to sixteen goals, 52-36. Further tactical changes from Leota saw Hall return to the court at wing attack and Davies returned to goal defence. Quick vision from O’Hanlon and Hall allowed Magee to add one more to the Rhinos tally. The third quarter ended with one minute thirty seconds on the clock causing confusion for the on court squad and the crowd, despite the scoreboard error it was the home side that entered the final break seventeen goals ahead after an impressive their quarter performance, 57-40.

A resilient Rhino side enter the last quarter playing with real intent. Hall created a turnover for herself on the transverse line and found Mvula under the post. A tight defensive unit performances forced Lightning off the sideline, which allowed Mvula another goal. E.Magee regained possession on our own centre pass to keep the Rhinos ticking on the scoreboard. Celyn Emmanuel took to court in the centre position with seven minutes remaining. Both sides wanted to end the game positively which the saw both sides creating turnovers and adding to their scores. Lightning stormed to victory 71-55 at the end of sixty minutes.


Leeds Rhinos return to Yorkshire for their next netball super league fixture when they face London Pulse at the Allam Sports Centre in Hull on Friday 22nd March at 19:30.

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