Director of Rugby Rhys Edwards is calling on his side to produce more controlled performances in the weeks ahead, after Loughborough Lightning slipped to defeat against Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.
Lightning were beaten for the fourth time in as many Allianz Premier 15s matches so far this season, with second-placed Chiefs pulling away to a 52-5 win at Epinal Way.
After a late venue change away from cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens due to a frozen pitch, Loughborough started brightly enough as hooker Bryony Field crashed over from a driving maul, but unfortunately that was as good as it got for the hosts as Exeter produced an impressive performance.
Katie Buchanan, Kate Zackary, Nicola Fryday and Claudia MacDonald all went over before the break to hand Chiefs a 26-5 lead, and the one-way traffic continued in the second half as Hope Rogers, Zackary, Maisy Allen and Eilidh Sinclair completed the scoring.
“It’s very disappointing as it was the same old story for us, as it has been the last couple of weeks with the scoreboard,” said Edwards.
“We were pretty far off the pace at times against Exeter. We actually had a strong start and came out with a real intent to play, which you could see during the first few passages of the match when we scored.
“But you’ve got to back that up, and the story of our season so far has been conceding possession or penalties straight off restarts, and putting ourselves under needless pressure.
“So, we’ve got to learn to be in charge of our own destiny a little bit better.”Rhys Edwards, Director of Rugby at Loughborough Lightning
“We train really hard during the week, and don’t lack physicality during the games, but at times we’re just not quite at the races and fall off in a couple of areas – from there, the whole game becomes a different challenge.
“We need to reflect on that and learn, so the biggest focus going into this week now will be looking at how we can be more in control and take ownership of several areas of the game.”
Loughborough are still contending with the absence of several key players following the Rugby World Cup – with the likes of Sarah Hunter, Emily Scarratt and Helena Rowland just three of those not available last weekend.
The Premier 15s fixtures continue to come thick and fast however, and Lightning travel to Shaftsbury Park this Saturday to face fifth-placed Bristol Bears (kick-off: 2.30pm).
Edwards added: “Bristol will throw the ball around in the same sort of way that Chiefs did on Saturday, so it’s important that we can deal with that.
“We’ll need to play the game in a controlled way, in the right areas, to create the pressure which leads to points, so it’s a simple plan but ultimately we need to execute it better.”