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Match Report: Harlequins Women 26 – 29 Loughborough Lightning

Two tries from Kathryn Treder helped Loughborough Lightning complete a sensational comeback from 19-0 down to beat Harlequins 29-26 at Twickenham Stoop.

Quins raced out of the traps thanks to Shaunagh Brown’s brace and another score from Lagi Tuima, but two tries from Georgina Tasker and Treder helped the away side recover to move within a score at the interval.

Lightning took the lead with 25 minutes remaining as both Bo Westcombe-Evans and Hallie Taufoou crossed the whitewash, and despite Quins hitting the front again shortly after through Aseza Hele, in the dying embers of the contest up popped Treder again to score Lightning’s fifth and snatch a hard-earned Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby victory.

FIRST HALF

Harlequins came flying out of the blocks and within two minutes had the first try of the game. Playing with penalty advantage, Brown found space through the middle of ruck to break free and score under the posts, with Tuima adding the extras.

Lightning continued to concede penalties in the early exchanges, and were punished ten minutes in as the hosts piled on the pressure and Tuima found space on the left wing to score.

Quins’ try-scoring continued and Brown had her second of the game with less than 20 minutes played, when Ellie Kildunne made a break from inside her own 22, and after a couple of phases, Brown barged over.

Loughborough needed a foothold at 19-0 down, but after earning a penalty on halfway, Helena Rowland kicked for touch to set-up their first attacking opportunity of the game. From the lineout, Rowland found Tasker with a cross-field kick to score in the corner.

The side in African Violet had their tails up, and crucially on the stroke of half-time, they scored a second through Treder as a Lightning maul could not be stopped by the hosts’ defence.

SECOND HALF

The gap was down to just seven points at the break, and Lightning started the stronger of the sides in the second 40 – taking advantage after Quins hooker Connie Powell was sent to the sin bin.

Loughborough had been knocking on the door since play resumed, but it took until the 53rd minute for that pressure to tell when Westcombe-Evans burst over in the left-hand corner.

And moments later, the away side had sealed the try bonus point by scoring a fourth; Lightning turned the ball over inside Quins’ 22, and put the ball through the hands to find Bulou Mataitoga who was hauled down inches from the line. The ball was recycled quickly and it was replacement Taufoou who crashed over to give her side the lead for the first time in the match.

Until the final ten minutes, neither side could find the cutting edge required to add to the score, but the hosts regained the advantage with seven minutes remaining via a driving maul and Hele came up with the ball.

But that try was not enough to see Harlequins over the line, as Lightning did not lie down and created an opportunity with only a handful of minutes remaining.

Loughborough’s catch-and-drive once again bore fruit and Quins could do nothing to stop Treder rumbling over at the back to dot down for a match-winning try.

Rowland converted from wide out, and Lightning held on from there for a crucial victory which moved them back up to fifth in the Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby table ahead of the visit of Trailfinders Women to cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens next weekend.

LINE UPS

HARLEQUINS: Kildunne, Aucken, Tuima, Burford (c), Wilcock, Scott, Packer, Turani, Powell, Cleall, Lochner, Leaney, Bonar, Fleming, Brown
Replacements: Dobson, Sims, Latsha, Cooney, Hele, Robinson, Cromack, Mayhew

LIGHTNING: Rollie, Tasker (vc), Mataitoga, Morrall, Westcombe-Evans, Rowland, Davey; Wells, Treder, Belisle, Wassell, O’Donnell, Malcolm (c), Kabeya, Hibbert-Jones
Replacements: Mueller, Trevarthen, Clifford, Duguid, Taufoou, Weaver, Green, Williams-Morris

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