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Edwards: Lightning relished Gardens return despite defeat to Quins

Director of Rugby Rhys Edwards has called on his Loughborough Lightning side to improve their accuracy after a 15-24 to Harlequins on Sunday at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

For the second consecutive week, Lightning were right in the contest until the final play of the game, with a 77th-minute try from Georgie Lingham and conversion from Helen Nelson bringing Loughborough within a score at 15-19 – to the delight of the crowd of almost 1,000 who were watching the side run out in Northampton for the first time this term.

However, as was the case at Saracens on the opening weekend of the Allianz Premier 15s, Lightning conceded a score with the clock in the red to miss out on securing even a bonus point in defeat against Quins.

It was the first time Loughborough, Saints’ women’s side, have tasted anything other than victory in three home matches at the Gardens – but with at least four more matches to come in Northampton this term, Edwards knows where Lightning need to tighten up leading into next weekend’s trip to Sale Sharks.

“It was great to be back at the Gardens for the first time this season,” he said. “We had two great occasions last year with two great results, so the girls have been looking forward to coming back ever since.

“Unfortunately it was a different story this time in terms of the result; in terms of our effort, we put a good shift in, which was pleasing – but our accuracy cost us and we weren’t able to take any points out of the fixture.

“To come back and play here in Northampton again though was really good, and we did show at times how well we are able to move the ball.”

Rhys Edwards, Director of Rugby at Loughborough Lightning

“So, the challenge for us now is to be able to do that more consistently, and actually keep the pressure on our opposition more. A couple of times we let Quins off the hook when we were in a good position, and they capitalised on it because they are a very good side.

“So our focus this week will be on being more accurate ahead of a trip up to Sale next Saturday.”

Lightning were largely without their large contingent of internationals for the Harlequins clash following the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup – although they did welcome back Scotland’s Rachel Malcolm, Christine Belisle, Leah Bartlett, and Helen Nelson for the first time this season.

But new signing Daisy Hibbert-Jones in the No.8 jersey was one player who caught the eye, and the former England Under-20 international was impressed with how Loughborough applied themselves up front against a physical Quins outfit.

She said: “I was super excited to get a run out at Franklin’s Gardens; it’s a great stadium and a great pitch. The girls put in a massive shift and we definitely saw glimpses of how we want to play rugby.

“We still need to improve on a few details around the park so we’ll take everything we’ve learnt from the game away this week and focus on fixing it for the Sale match.

“In particular, we really raised the level of our set piece on Saturday which is positive, so we want to make sure we build on that again next weekend.”

Tickets for Loughborough Lightning’s matches against Exeter Chiefs, Wasps, Sale Sharks, and Bristol Bears are on sale now from just £7 adult / £3 junior*.

* All ticket prices are subject to a £1.50 booking fee.

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