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Match Report: Leicester Tigers 12 – 24 Loughborough Lightning

Loughborough Lightning picked up a bonus-point win on Sunday evening and their first league points of the season, beating Leicester Tigers in the first ever Derby game between the sides.

The away side were 19 points up at half-time, thanks to an early try from Bo Westcombe-Evans, along with a brace from hooker Maja Meuller.

Tigers did not lie down and scored a couple of tries in the second half, but Westcombe-Evans put the match to bed with her second score late on to wrap up a bonus point and propel Lightning up to sixth in the Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby standings.

FIRST HALF

It did not take long for Lightning to get their first score of the game, after Tigers were penalised at the breakdown inside the first minute. From there, Loughborough began to build momentum, and after a couple of phases, Westcombe-Evans found space on the left wing to score.

Helen Nelson could not add the extras, but the away side continued to dominate the early exchanges, and were rewarded in the 17th minute when Meuller crashed over. An earlier Nelson kick had forced Tigers deep into their own half, and the pressure eventually told as the Swedish international profited from an offload from Megan Davey.

Nelson’s conversion was successful this time to make it 12-0 – and the visitors continued their ruthless form and did not allow their opponents to get a foothold in the game.

When Meuller grabbed her second of the match at the back of a powerful rolling maul, Nelson again landed the two extra points from the tee, and Loughborough capped an impressive first-half showing by keeping the hosts at bay until the half-time whistle.

SECOND HALF

A change of front row prompted a change of momentum for Leicester Tigers at the start of the second half, and brought them their first try of the afternoon.

Lightning had defended well on their own line, but after they infringed at a maul, Leicester put the ball back in the corner for a lineout and this time drove over – with No.8 Tahlia Brody the scorer.

Meg Jones’ conversion sailed just wide of the posts, and the second half developed into a much tighter affair with both sides scrapping for every inch.

Lightning held a 14-point advantage heading into the final 20 minutes, but the gap was cut when replacement scrum-half Amy Relf – playing with a penalty advantage – sniped her way over the whitewash from close range.

However, Loughborough managed to keep their hosts at arm’s length with a final try, which also wrapped up the bonus point. Westcombe-Evans evaded a number of defenders down the left wing to dot down in the corner for her second of the game.

The scoreline stayed at 24-12 until the final whistle, meaning Lightning registered their first win of the Premiership Women’s Rugby campaign, and climbed to sixth in the standings. Next up is a visit from Bristol Bears next Saturday at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens, Lightning’s first home match of the league season.

LINE UPS

TIGERS: 15 Swartz, 14 Feury, 13 M Jones, 12 DeFilippo, 11 McGhie, 10 N Jones, 9 Nye; 1 Cockburn, 2 Bainbridge, 3 Ugiagbe, 4 Donaldson, 5 Jacobs, 6 Noon, 7 Richardson, 8 Brody
Replacements: 16 Martin, 17 Barlett, 18 Sagapolu Sanele, 19 Massey, 20 Warrington, 21 Relf, 22 Childs, 23 Collie

LIGHTNING: 15 Rollie, 14 Tasker (vc) 13 Hardy, 12 Morrall, 11 Westcombe-Evans, 10 Nelson, 9 Davey; 1 Trevarthen, 2 Meuller, 3 Belisle, 4 Ives Campion, 5 O’Donnell, 6 Wassell, 7 Malcolm (c), 8 Hibbert-Jones
Replacements: 16 Treder, 17 Curphey, 18 Clifford, 19 Duguid, 20 Waudby, 21 J Weaver, 22 Green, 23 Williams-Morris

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