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Match Report: Trailfinders Women 18 – 19 Loughborough Lightning

Loughborough Lightning secured fifth place in the Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby 2023/24 table with a round to spare after claiming a narrow victory over Trailfinders Women on Saturday afternoon at the Trailfinders Sports Ground.

The African Violets went into the break trailing by six points with Ealing registering two tries through Abby Dow and Vicky Laflin along with a pair of Ellie Green penalties, but Lightning struck through Laura Keates and Kathryn Treder to ensure a tense second period would ensue.

Treder’s second after the break, converted by Emily Scarratt, were the only points after the sides switched halves as Lightning secured back-to-back victories by the narrowest of margins. Harlequins’ loss to Bristol Bears saw Lightning open their gap on sixth to nine points going into Round 18 of the regular season.

FIRST HALF

It was the away side that landed the first points of the game. After sustained pressure on the Trailfinders line, experienced prop Keates barged her way over the line for her second try in three games. Scarratt added the extras from a routine position. 

That lead was cut to two points three minutes later. A cruel bounce from a box kick handed Ealing possession inside the Lightning 22. And when the hosts went wide, Red Roses ace Dow showed her pace and dotted down in the corner.

Green’s conversion drifted wide but she slotted two penalties over a ten-minute period with the first putting her side ahead for the first time in the match, and the second opening a four-point lead.

Lightning thought they had their second try of the game just moments later, but Sadia Kabeya was held up over the line.

That near-miss was compounded when Green’s well-weighted cross-field kick was caught by Laflin who evaded a couple of Lightning defenders and scored under the posts. Green’s conversion was successful as the lead stretched to 11 points.

But Lightning made a crucial breakthrough before the break. American hooker Treder – fresh from helping her country secure victory in Australia last weekend – was at the back of a dominant maul to apply the finishing touches and the visitors tailed by six.

SECOND HALF

Lightning thought they had the first try of the second half inside the opening ten minutes, but Scarratt was denied a second try in as many weeks when she was ruled held up over the line.

The try did come though as Treder had her second score of the afternoon on the 56-minute mark. From the 22-metre line, a Lightning maul powered through the Ealing defence and over the line with Treder scoring her eleventh try of the season.

Trailfinders thought they had the match-winning score with 15 minutes left to play, but they squandered the opportunity, knocking the ball on just metres out from the line.

Nathan Smith’s side continued to press for a fourth score, but couldn’t find the killer pass to secure maximum points for the third time this season in this head-to-head contest, following Allianz Cup and Allianz PWR clashes.

Ultimately Treder’s score was the only points of the second half, as Lightning held on for a one-point victory in the capital.

The African Violets are back at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens on Sunday 2 June for their final game of the campaign as they host Saracens – who ended Gloucester-Hartpury’s season-long unbeaten run on Saturday afternoon.

Tickets for Lightning versus Saracens are available from just £7.50* adults and £3* juniors by clicking HERE.

LINE-UPS

TRAILFINDERS: 15 Vicky Laflin, 14 Rosie Inman, 13 Julia Schell, 12 Jess Cooksey, 11 Abby Dow, 10 Ellie Green, 9 Ella Amory; 1 Liz Clarke, 2 Elisa Riffonneau, 3 Andrea Stock, 4 Tyson Beukeboom, 5 Shannon Ikahihifo, 6 Megan Barwick, 7 Abi Burton, 8 Kate Zackary.

Replacements: 16 Amanda McQuade, 17 Kie Tamai, 18 Kira Leat, 19 Shya Pinnock, 20 Rowena Burnfield, 21 Thea Sylvester, 22 Emma Swords, 23 Sam Shiels.

LIGHTNING: 15 Chloe Rollie, 14 Georgina Tasker, 13 Emily Scarratt, 12 Carmela Morrall, 11 Bo Westcombe-Evans, 10 Helen Nelson, 9 Meg Davey; 1 Katie Trevarthen, 2 Kathryn Treder, 3 Laura Keates, 4 Lilli Ives Campion, 5 Cath O’Donnell, 6 Rachel Malcolm (c), 7 Sadia Kabeya, 8 Daisy Hibbert-Jones (vc).

Replacements: 16 Maja Meuller, 17 Amelia Williams, 18 Isla Curphey, 19 Abby Duguid, 20 Hallie Taufoou, 21 Lucy Weaver, 22 Lia Green, 23 Bulou Mataitoga.

 

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