Loughborough Lightning beat Surrey Storm to clinch home semi-final with Manchester Thunder


Highlights of Surrey Storm taking on Loughborough Lightning at the Copper Box.

Loughborough Lightning emerged victorious from Netball London Live against Surrey Storm meaning they secured a home semi-final on Saturday.

With Sirens ending Mavericks hopes of a top-four finish on Thursday night, the only drama to be played out on the final Saturday was whether Thunder or Lightning claimed second spot and home advantage in the last four.

With both teams locked together on points, Loughborough will host the semi-final between the pair due to their superior goal difference after sinking Storm 63-41, while Thunder beat Bath 54-37.

There remains one final match to be played of the regular season, when Severn Stars look to continue their fine finish to the season against bottom-of-the-table Celtic Dragons – but all eyes now switch to the semi-finals, both of which will be live on Sky Sports from 5.30pm on Saturday.

Vitality Superleague – Semi-Finals Saturday 5:45pm Wasps v Team Bath at University of Worcester Saturday 7:45pm Loughborough Lightning v Manchester Thunder at Leicester Arena Live on Sky Sports Mix from 5:30pm

For Lightning it’s an 11th straight victory as they look to make amends for defeat to Wasps in last year’s Grand Final and they proved too strong for Surrey, powering their way to victory.

Head coach Anna Carter was delighted with victory and the benefit of home advantage in the last four: “I thought it was a grower for us, we struggled to get to the aggressiveness of the game in the first half.

1:08 Loughborough Lightning head coach Anna Carter was pleased how her team attacked in their win over Surrey Storm.

“It was an aggressive game and we took a while to respond to it but once we did the game started to open up for us. I thought the girls dealt well with the pressure of such a big crowd and a large arena despite not always getting the reward from away fans for their hard work.

“We now need to focus on next week’s match and ensure we are recovering well. It will be nice not to travel and to have a home crowd so hopefully everyone will get down to the arena and get behind the girls!”

1:21 In her last game for Surrey Storm, head coach Tania Hoffman gives her analysis of Storm's defeat to Loughborough Lightning.

Thunder had done their bit with victory but goal difference meant they will be on the road after being pushed all the way by a Team Bath team determined to find a return to winning ways as they head into the semi-finals.

In the end the hosts proved too strong and Karen Greig immediately turned attention to preparations for the semi-final.

“I thought the game was brutal, both sides taking hits but luckily came out unscathed – we need to move on quickly, big week ahead preparing for semi-final,” she told the Thunder website.

“The game had a lot of positives, we played some awesome netball, moved the ball around well, moved around the circle well and put Bath under a lot of physical pressure.”

Leaders and defending champions Wasps also finished on a high with a 16th win of the season bettering last season’s regular-season tally of 14.

“We needed a real challenge ahead of the semi-finals and Team Northumbria brought it to us, so I’m really pleased that my side came out on top” said Wasps Netball director Tamsin Greenway after a fourth successive victory.

“Team Northumbria have taken some quarters against some of the top sides but we’ve managed to win every single one in this match – we battled on through and knew what we were doing.

Vitality Superleague – Round 18 fixtures & results Thursday UWS Sirens 49-47 benecos Mavericks Saturday Manchester Thunder 54-37 Team Bath Team Northumbria 45-60 Wasps Surrey Storm 41-63 Loughborough Lightning Monday Severn Stars v Celtic Dragons

It’s all eyes on the semi-finals and Grand Final as the 2018 campaign reaches its dramatic conclusion over the next two weeks, all on Sky Sports Mix, channel 121, which is free for all Sky customers.

Both of Saturday’s semi-finals are live from 5.30pm with centre-pass in Wasps v Team Bath at 5:45pm followed by Loughborough Lightning v Manchester Thunder

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