Posted 10th May 2024

Blue & Gold continue to show progress and potential in defeat to defending Super League champs Loughborough Lightning

Title-chasing Loughborough Lightning left with the predicted victory but Team Bath Netball can take huge credit and confidence from their performance against the defending Super League champions.

Another 1,300-strong crowd in the Team Bath Arena saw the Blue & Gold battle throughout while also producing some wonderful passages of play which demonstrated their ability and potential right across the court.

Team Bath didn’t quite hit their pre-match target of keeping to within 20 goals of Lightning, the visitors winning 76-51, but their determination was exemplified by a final quarter which finished all square.

Asha Francis, Team Bath Netball Head Coach, said: “I’m incredibly proud – if you look at the calibre of the team we have just played and some of the things we achieved against them, that will set us up for the remaining games we have.

Team Bath Netball Fans’ MVP Lisa Putt receives her prize from Iestyn Lewis, CEO of Rengen – a valued Team Bath overall partner

“In the last quarter Lightning only took 40 per cent of their centre-passes to goal which was exceptional as our target was 80 per cent. I know they made some changes but you can only play who is in front of you.

“We are working incredibly hard and we know we have to make a shift in this second half of the season. We need to be seeing progress and we did tonight against some quality opposition. Some of the passing and the way we played through Lightning was outstanding, you could hear the crowd appreciate it. We’ve got the quality and ability, we’ve just got to unlock it more often.”

Team Bath had finished last weekend’s home match against Surrey Storm strongly and picked up where they left off, turning over the first centre-pass and opening up a two-goal gap through confident shooting from Sophie Kelly.

However, a run of seven quickfire goals saw Lightning turn a 4-2 deficit into a 9-4 lead as star shooter Mary Cholhok found her rhythm, despite some outstanding defensive pressure from Jayda Pechova. The Team Bath and Vitality Roses star forced several missed shots but Cholhok was able to grab the rebounds and keep the scoreboard ticking over as Lightning extended their advantage to 21-12 at the end of the first quarter.

Kadeen Corbin shoots for goal against her former club. PICTURES: Mark Harris

The gap widened in the opening stages of the second quarter but, with the fit-again Kadeen Corbin joining the impressive Sloan Burton in attack, Team Bath continued to battle away and provided the vocal home crowd with plenty of high-quality moments to appreciate.

That was epitomised in the closing stages of the half – which Lightning won 43-25 – when the hosts fought tenaciously to keep the ball alive, pinging off players’ hands and the post before it fell for Burton to convert with aplomb.

Team Bath coach Francis made several positional changes in the latter stages of the second period and opening of the third, with Lisa Putt making a particularly big impact at goal-keeper – the New Zealander went on to be voted by the fans as winner of Team Bath’s Most Valuable Player Award, sponsored by Results Body+Mind, and received a bouquet, supplied by Flowers of Bath, from Iestyn Lewis who is CEO of Rengen Developments, a valued overall partner of Team Bath.

Kelly also caught the eye at wing-attack, only the second time she has played the role in Super League, and she linked up superbly with Corbin and Burton as Team Bath continued to impress against a Lightning side who made changes of their own.

Ella Clark and Niamh McCall came into the shooting circle for the visitors, who stretched their lead to 61-36 at the end of the third quarter.

Kirsty Harris on the ball for Team Bath Netball – she was cheered on by pupils from St Helen & St Katharine School where she works as a PE teacher

Team Bath were determined to not let the gap grow wider and they scored seven of the last ten goals to ensure a fiercely-fought final quarter finished level at 15-15.

The Blue & Gold head to Leeds Rhinos next Friday (17th May) before concluding their home campaign with back-to-back fixtures against table-topping Manchester Thunder (Friday 24th May) and Strathclyde Sirens (Friday 31st May). Both start at 7.30pm and the last game will be preceded by an end-of-season pizza party from 6-7pm. Purchase tickets online at

Team Bath Netball is supported by Bath Building Society and Rengen Developments, who are both overall Team Bath Partners. Flyhawk supply Team Bath’s performance clothing and off-court apparel.

Match stats

Team Bath Netball starting combination: GS Sloan Burton, GA Sophie Kelly, WA Kirsty Harris, C Bethan Dyke, WD Phoebe Maslen, GD Tash Pavelin, GK Jayda Pechova. Impact players: Emma Barrie, Lily-May Catling, Kadeen Corbin, Ellie Ervine, Lisa Putt.

Loughborough Lightning starting combination: GS Mary Cholhok, GA Rhea Dixon, WA Hannah Joseph, C Nat Panagarry, WD Beth Cobden, GD Nicola Smith, GK Alice Harvey. Impact players: Bella Baylis, Ella Clark, Niamh McCall, Jade Popoola, Annabel Roddy.

Quarter scores (Team Bath first): Q1 12-21. Q2 25-43 (13-22). Q3 36-61 (11-18). Q4 51-76 (15-15).

Attendance: 1,300.

Team Bath Fans’ MVP, sponsored by Results Body+Mind: Lisa Putt.

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