Lightning attack fires to sign off the year in style

CHRISTMAS has come early for Lightning A.

Fuelled by an outstanding performance from teenager Immy Giles at GS, they blasted to a comprehensive 53-28 victory against Premier Division title rivals Blaze on Tuesday night – their last match before the festive break.

Blaze were running on a depleted roster of eight players, but that took away little from Lightning captain and GA Donna Brehaut’s joy afterwards.

‘It’s probably the best attacking performance we have done all season,’ she said.

‘It’s taken a while for us to gel, but credit to the attack tonight.

‘It’s a great way to end before Christmas and I think we needed that kind of performance after the Rezzers game [a 31-29 loss to champions Green two weeks ago] – all in all, really pleased.’

Despite being faced with the unusual venue of St Sampson’s High, Lightning wasted no time in getting going.

Blaze were missing some influential figures, including sisters Zola Saunders and Nena Copperwaite, and went with a taped-up Amy Fallaize at GK and a different centre-court unit of Robyn Sherbourne at WD, Jaymee-Leigh Weysom at C and Chloe Khaira at WA.

An exchange of opening goals soon became a fierce Lightning run as Blaze struggled to get the ball down the court and even more so to score against a tough defence, headed by GK Lorna Hall and GD Sammie Cox.

Both Giles and Brehaut were on fire as their side moved more than 10 goals clear in minimal time.

Lightning centre Carrie Bacon feeds the ball into Donna Brehaut. (Picture by Andrew Le Poidevin, 31524715)

Blaze subsequently settled and ended the quarter 17-6 down, then multiple changes – including bringing on converted shooter Jemma Green at GK and moving Fallaize to C – proved profitable in quarter two.

They flowed much better and, capitalising on errors from Lightning, cut the arrears to 27-20 at half-time. A comeback suddenly looked within reach.

Green had proved a good fit for the GK bib and their youngest shooter, Vicky Yabsley, played beyond her years at GS.

But Lightning combined the rotating substitutes and their 10-strong roster to keep their legs fresh and played patient, three-second netball to establish a decisive 39-24 lead in quarter three.

Giles shone throughout, holding her space excellently in the circle until full time, and deservingly took player-of-the-match.

‘It’s a completely new attacking unit, bringing Immy in, so we’ve had to go back to basics,’ Brehaut said of their positive start to the season.

‘She’s coped with it excellently and we’ve adapted her as a GS.

‘Playing with Immy in the circle is a completely different dynamic to what we had last year – we had more of a rotating circle – so we have had to move to a holding circle.

‘It has taken a while to adapt, but our attacking performance tonight I am really pleased with. It’s probably the first time we have really gelled.

‘Going into the season after Christmas, we definitely need to take the positives forward.’

Netball development officer Fallaize, speaking in captain Copperwaite’s absence, also took several positives from what on paper looks like a heavy loss.

‘I thought it was a really nice game,’ she said after Green sealed POM.

‘We came off the court and said it was a nice, clean, well-contested game.

‘Considering we had people playing out of position, it was still really good. Everyone put in a good shift.’

The closest battle of the night had in fact come just beforehand.

The previously win-less Rezzers Black had squeezed past Lightning B 41-40 in a passionate contest between two well-matched sides, who are duelling for the last play-off spot. Several warnings and cautions occurred in the process.

Lightning had won the first two quarters – 11-8 and 23-16 – but a clinical Rezzers outperformed them in the third and flipped the momentum in their favour.

Despite trailing 30-25 at three-quarters, Rezzers went on to steal the game as panic set in for a still-inexperienced Lightning side.

Rezzers GS Taylor Callanan and Lightning GA Grace Phillips won the POM honours.

Lightning remain above their rival B team in the pre-Christmas standings, having won their earlier duel and more consistently gained goal-difference points from other sides.

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