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Loughborough lose tight game

Nikita Piggott (left) had 20 goals on her professional debut in England. (FP)

Nikita Piggott (left) had 20 goals on her professional debut in England. (FP)

Top Barbadian goal shoot Nikita Piggott had a brilliant debut for the Loughborough Lightning in the 2013 Netball Super League in England, but an injury forced her to leave the game prematurely resulting in her team losing a thriller 47-46 to Northumbria at Sport Central in Newcastle upon Tyne on Monday.

It was an agonising defeat for Lightning who led throughout the match, but were denied the victory after a late Northumbria rally.

Much of the pre-match build up had focused on Lighting’s new Caribbean players Piggott and Jamaican Vanessa Walker.

In the first quarter, both demonstrated their international credentials with Lightning racing into a 12-8 lead.They were ably supported by captain Sophia Candappa, alongside the defensive unit of Jodie Gibson, Lauren Steadman and debutant Lauren Massey, who restricted Northumbria to limited opportunities throughout the first half. The half-time score was Loughborough Lightning 24, Northumbria 18.

Midway through the third quarter Piggott suffered an injury and was replaced by 17-year-old Beth Payne, who made her Super League debut for Lightning towards the end of last season.

Undaunted by the occasion, Payne supported Walker to keep the scoreboard ticking, and maintain Lightning’s lead of five points by the end of the quarter. However Northumbria’s substitute goal attacker Toetsie Kambatuku scored 10 out of 10 goals and was a big influence on the game

Despite frequent scores, Lightning were to be denied by a strong finish by Northumbria, with Kambatuku scoring 11 goals from 13 attempts to snatch victory for the home side.

Despite the nature of the defeat, Head Coach Jo Webb was upbeat after the match, stating: “We showed some of the flare and skill that we are capable of and used the tactics we are developing, but did not keep the work rate high enough for the whole match.

“I am proud of so much of what our squad achieved and look forward to building some more team performances.”

Piggott had 20 goals from 24 attempts, while Walker had 19 goals from 26 attempts and team-mate Beth Payne a perfect seven goals from as many attempts. Piggott will see action in her first home game against Surrey Storm on Monday.

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