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.
Keep up to date on all the latest news by following @LightningRugby on Twitter.
Loughborough Lightning’s half time adjustment leads them to bonus point victory in a physical game with Firwood Waterloo Ladies, 30-19.
By Lyndsey Dorries
Firwood Waterloo first-half dominance and powerful attacking were undone by the second half pressure from the home side.
After a series of early scrums in midfield, Loughborough Lightning make a break for the try line, brought down just short by a big hit by Lauren Delany (sponsored by Roast Coffee & Kitchen), highlighting the level of physicality that would run throughout this game.
Despite this early push, it would be the visitors who saw the majority of possession for the first half, capitalising well and showing a sustained attacking ability. After 10 minutes Vanessa Temple crossed over for Firwood Waterloo’s first try, followed by a Co-Captain Ash Neale’s try 10 minutes later. Bethany Stott’s (sponsored by Eddy Warrington) conversion took Firwood Waterloo to 12-0 with the visitors third try just 5 minutes later as they turned over Loughborough Lightning’s 5m scrum allowing Sarah Beckett (sponsored by Charterhouse Chambers) to score under the posts. A second Stott conversion put the visitors up 19-0 – 25 minutes into the game. Vanessa Temple almost added a second try for herself as she intercepted a Loughborough pass and turned on the pace, however this was pulled back for an earlier penalty giving the ball back to the home side.
Loughborough Lightning managed to get on the scoreboard 30 minutes into the game, Natasha Jones breaking two tackles to pile over in the corner. A head injury for Lauren Delany forces Firwood Waterloo to make a sub but they continue to pile on the pressure. Loughborough Lightning try to play out of their own 22 but are pushed back inside the 5m line, Firwood Waterloo managed to turn the ball over and Aimee Wallace crashes over the line but can’t ground the ball closing the half 19-5 to Firwood Waterloo.
Loughborough Lightning switch up their game plan after the break and start to kick for territory. Playing in the opposing half yields results for the home side and after multiple phases the forwards inch over for a converted try making it 19-12.
Loughborough Lightning continue to kick for territory and score twice more within 10 minutes, both from Lineouts on Firwood Waterloo’s 5m taking the lead 22-19. Firwood Waterloo went down to 14 players as the referee punished multiple team infringements with a yellow card for Dani Wiseman (sponsored by Anthony John Catering Services). The extra player became evident very quickly as Loughborough crossed over for another try, the visitor’s winger unable to come out on top when facing two Loughborough attackers. Loughborough Lightning added to the score towards the end of the game with a penalty to finish 30-19.