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Women’s Rugby

Malcolm: We are improving the identity of Lightning with every game

Captain Rachel Malcolm is targeting a first home league win of the season and building on a brilliant victory last time out when Loughborough Lightning welcome Trailfinders Women to Loughborough University this weekend.

The African Violets moved up to fifth in the league with a thrilling win away at Harlequins last week despite falling 19-0 down in the first half. They will now seek to secure back-to-back league wins for the first time this season when Ealing-based Trailfinders arrive at Epinal Way on Saturday (kick-off: 2pm).

Flanker Malcolm has been ever-present in Lightning’s Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby campaign which reaches its midway point this weekend.

Q: The win over Harlequins included coming from 19-0 down, was it quite reminiscent of a Northampton Saints comeback?
RM: We did actually say after the game it was a very Saints-like performance in that sense! We continued to believe that what we knew could beat them, would beat them. We stayed true to what we said and problem solved well within the game and we just stuck together. It shows a massive step forward from this team.

In previous seasons when we have been on the back foot or been on the other end of poor score lines in first halves and things like that, we have not dealt well with it. Whereas this season we have been put under a lot of pressure in a number of games but we have always fought back and stayed in it and came out winners at the weekend.

Q: Only three points separate Lightning from Quins and your next opponents Trailfinders, creating a bit of a mini league below the top four. Just how important are these two fixtures [Quins and Trailfinders] in your season?
RM: They’re really big games. After we play Trailfinders at the weekend we will be halfway through the season so it really is flying through and we definitely want to put ourselves in the mix to at least be contending for top four. Winning that mini-league is exactly where we need to be to allow us to do that.

It is a tough wee section of the table; Ealing are a new team but they’re playing some really nice rugby. They’re playing quite a similar brand of rugby to what we play and I think it will be a really interesting contest at the weekend as we go head-to-head.

We just need to keep focusing on ourselves, as cliché as it is. We are improving game on game, improving the identity of Loughborough Lightning as well, game on game.

“We have probably got a better understanding now as to what we are as a team and how we want to play, and how we want to be thought of by other teams.”

Rachel Malcolm, Loughborough Lightning captain

We just need to keep concentrating on growing that and the results will follow. We don’t really get caught up in the ’mini league‘ or the league in general, but equally you’ve always got one eye on it. 

Q: Trailfinders pushed Gloucester-Hartpury all the way and took points from their defeat in Round 8 – how tough a test will it be for Lightning this weekend?
RM: They are definitely a team that should not be underestimated. New team or not, they are obviously putting in some very good performances and getting some really good results as well.

They have got threats all over the park. They have scored wonder tries from their back three but they have also got some fierce firepower in the forwards as well, particularly their French hooker [Elisa Riffonneau] and the likes of Kate Zackary, the USA captain. They have got a lot of class within that team.

They are definitely a team we need to give the upmost respect to, but I think we need to keep focusing on ourselves and pushing forward.

This season for us is all about regaining that respect within the group and outside the group as well, for Loughborough Lightning. It’s probably something, last season in particular, where some of the performances were not necessarily ones that we were proud of. I think we are definitely growing that in the first half of the season. For us to continue to do that, then putting on a performance this weekend is really important. 

Q: Lightning have picked up three Allianz PWR wins on the road but have yet to win at home in the league, losing to Bristol and Exeter before Christmas. How big a motivation is getting that first home victory under your belts?
RM: It is definitely something that is on our radar. We are disappointed not to have done it yet but we have also had quite a tough run of games in terms of our home games so far.

Every game within this league is super competitive, it is a really tough league. There isn’t a single easy game or game that you can target as a win, necessarily. I am sure we will put on a good show for the fans this weekend. I also very much hope that we are on the right side of the result. 

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