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Match Report: Loughborough Lightning 38 – 15 Sale Sharks

Loughborough Lightning landed three tries in both halves at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens to sink Sale Sharks and return to winning ways.

Daisy Hibbert-Jones, Rachel Malcolm and Kathryn Treder all crossed the line before the break with Georgie Perris-Redding responding for Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby’s bottom club Sale.

Sadia Kabeya and Lilli Ives Campion efforts after the interval were countered by Catie Benson and Niamh Swailes securing five-pointers for Sharks before Carys Williams-Morris bagged Lightning’s sixth try to strengthen their grip on fifth place in the table.

FIRST HALF

Only four minutes were on the clock when Lightning opened the scoring as Emily Scarratt’s flat pass saw Bo Westcombe-Evans canter down the left wing. Before Sale could settle, the ball was moved from coast to coast for Bulou Mataitoga to feed Hibbert-Jones with plenty to do from 25 metres out, but the number eight stepped a winger to finish for her second try of the season against her former club.

Lightning doubled their lead when Christine Belisle and Hibbert-Jones punched sizeable holes in the visiting defence allowing scrum-half Lucy Weaver to mark her first outing of the season by providing the assist for Malcolm to crash over on an unstoppable line, with Helena Rowland improving both tries from the tee.

Sharks got themselves on the scoreboard when Perris-Redding broke off a rolling maul to cross for an unconverted try.

Abby Duguid’s surge to the line was ruled held up but there was no stopping hooker Treder soon afterwards. A powerful scrum earned a penalty that was kicked to the corner and it was the American hooker who finished off a formidable rolling maul to claim her ninth try of a prolific season so far. 

From the touchline, Rowland converted once more as the half closed out with both teams missing opportunities to add points as Vicky A Irwin lost possession reaching for glory then Ellen Scantlebury was denied a maiden PWR try by Hollie Bawden’s excellent covering tackle.

SECOND HALF

The bonus point was sealed four minutes after the restart when Kabeya latched onto Mataitoga’s teasing pass to break through a gap and race away from two defenders to finish brilliantly from 30 metres out.

Head Coach Nathan Smith began utilising his bench and it was one of those replacements, second row Ives Campion, who got Lightning’s fifth try of the afternoon when she poached from a few metres out to ground by the foot of the right upright, giving Rowland her easiest chance of the afternoon to add the extras.

Sharks’ heads did not drop from that double blow as a neat lineout move saw Erica Jarrell canter down the left wing and return the ball to hooker Swailes to finish in the corner. The visitors then gave themselves hope of taking a point from the game with five minutes remaining when a quickly-tapped penalty saw Benson crash over.

But the last laugh was Lightning’s as Helen Nelson and Hallie Taufoou combined to free Williams-Morris to finish clinically down the wing – as the African Violets picked up a first league win of the season at the Gardens heading into Saturday’s Round 14 trip to Exeter Chiefs.

LINE UPS

LIGHTNING: 15 Nelson, 14 Scantlebury, 13 Mataitoga, 12 Scarratt, 11 Westcombe-Evans, 10 Rowland, 9 L Weaver; 1 Trevarthen, 2 Treder, 3 Belisle, 4 Duguid, 5 Taufoou, 6 Malcolm (c), 7 Kabeya, 8 Hibbert-Jones.

Replacements: 16 Meuller, 17 Williams, 18 Wells, 19 Ives Campion, 20 Svoboda, 21 Davey, 22 Morrall, 23 Williams-Morris.

SHARKS: 15 Perrin, 14 Thorpe, 13 Haungatau, 12 Rigoni, 11 Bawden, 10 VA Irwin, 9 Taylor-Roberts; 1 Harper, 2 Wright, 3 James, 4 Jarrell, 5 Antwis, 6 VE Irwin, 7 Perris-Redding (c), 8 Brown.

Replacements: 16 Swailes, 17 Benson, 18 Schonert, 19 Bowman, 20 Hazell, 21 Grieve, 22 Howard, 23 Prothero.

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