Keeping connected and high work rate were pivotal in Loughborough Lightning’s victory over Leicester Tigers on Sunday, according to centre Emma Hardy.
Nathan Smith’s side picked up a try bonus point in a 24-12 Premiership Women’s Rugby win at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, in the first ever league meeting between the two clubs.
Hardy, 23, was in the thick of the action for Lightning, getting involved in a flowing move which ended in Bo Westcombe-Evans dotting down in the left corner for Loughborough’s first try.
The visitors had a comfortable 19-0 lead going into the break, after Swedish international Maja Meuller twice burst over the whitewash, but after Leicester made some adjustments at half-time, the game proved much more even from then on.
Tigers reduced the gap to seven points with 15 minutes left, but Westcombe-Evans made sure of the result with her second try of the evening, to the delight of Lightning’s players and coaching staff.
“It was a tough game,” said Hardy. “It was always going to be a challenge, coming away to Mattioli Woods Welford Road, but we were thrilled to come away with the win.
“It was a game of two halves, with us being pretty dominant in the first 40, but we let it slip a little bit in the second half, and let them back into the game.
“A fast start is something that we have always been going after, so it’s nice to have that. Now for us, it is trying to fine-tune some parts so that we stay on top when we do get a fast start.”Emma Hardy
The conditions worsened after the interval and the game became cagier all over the pitch, but ahead of a return to cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens in Northampton this weekend for their first home match of the league season, Hardy was impressed with the maturity of the performance and the effort across the team to hold firm for each other.
She added: “The second 40 was very back and forth; they have some strong players, and players with a lot of flair, so they really brought it to us in attack.
“We defended really well though and stayed well-connected. Credit to the girls, for chasing back when they made breaks, and the work rate for each other really showed. That’s what won us the game.
“I’m absolutely buzzing to be playing back at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens next weekend.
“It is so special now that we have built a fanbase in partnership with Northampton Saints, so having our fans there and hearing the noise really spurs us on. Hopefully we can get another win.”