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Lightning: Loughborough fight back to topple league leaders Bristol Bears

We round up all the action from our joint Saints / Loughborough Lightning side in the Women’s Premier 15s competition… 

Lightning make Bears pay the penalty 

Loughborough Lightning picked up their best result of the season by toppling Women’s Premier 15s leaders Bristol Bears with a tense 17-14 victory at Epinal Way. 

It was Lightning’s third win on the bounce, following triumphs over Gloucester-Hartpury and Sale Sharks, although they had to come from 14-0 down to pull it off. 

They fell behind to a moment of magic from Bristol winger Jasmine Joyce in the fourth minute, as she broke from her own 22 and left two defenders for dead to score a try that was converted by Amber Reed. 

It looked as though the Bears might make it a long afternoon for Loughborough when they scored their second try in the 15th minute, Joyce again crossing the whitewash after being set up by Alisha Butchers. 

However, the hosts were given a route back into the game as first Phoebe Murray (deliberate knock-on) then Sarah Bern were sent to the sin bin to reduce the visitors to 13 players. 

Helena Rowland saw a penalty come back off a post during this period, but Lightning were soon off the mark when hooker Lark Davies was driven over for an unconverted try. 

This reduced Bristol’s lead to 14-5 at half-time, but Loughborough continued to get the upper hand in the early stages of the second half, forcing the Bears to cough up a series of penalties. 

This eventually led to Davies scoring her second try of the day from a driving maul, although Rowland again couldn’t convert. 

But the maul continued to be a potent weapon for Lightning and it brought about the decisive score in the 68th minute when one was illegally hauled down with the try line looming. 

It led to the referee awarding a penalty try and showing a yellow card to Bristol’s replacement prop Hollie Phillips. 

Despite playing most of the remainder of the game with an extra player, it still took some resolute defence in the closing stages to see out the victory and inflict upon the Bears just their second defeat of the season. 

This was also Loughborough’s final game of 2021 and they will aim to continue their run of form in the New Year when they resume their campaign against Wasps on January 8. 

Northampton Saints’ partner club Bedford Blues will be in action during the festive period, however, when they welcome Jersey Reds to Goldington Road for what should be a feisty Boxing Day fixture in the Championship.

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