Loughborough Lightning 26-61 Gloucester-Hartpury - Alex Matthews Double Secures Success for the 'Circus' on PWR Return - Ruck

Loughborough Lightning 26-61 Gloucester-Hartpury – Alex Matthews Double Secures Success for the ‘Circus’ on PWR Return

By Ben Baker

Loughborough hosted the league leaders Gloucester-Hartpury in a clash that ended 26-61, and continued Gloucester’s perfect season while Loughborough continue to perform below their expectations. 

The Circus showed their intent immediately as Hannah Jones had a try disallowed due to a fantastic tackle and rip from Carmela Morrall on her own try-line, this resulted in a five metre scrum in Gloucester’s favour. 

This scrum led to the first try of the game, as a dominant scrum from Gloucester-Hartpury saw Alex Matthews pick up from the scrum, she didn’t make much progress before getting tackled. However, scrum half Natasha Hunt was quick into the ruck and found Tatyana Heard who opened the scoring. Fullback Emma Sing converted the try. 

Only minutes later, Loughborough Lightning struck back with a try from tighthead prop Laura Keates, starting her first game since before the postponed 2021 World Cup, carrying the ball over the line after a break from Emily Scarratt. Lightning couldn’t convert the try so remained two points behind. 

Another dominant scrum from Gloucester-Hartpury on the Loughborough try-line led to another pick up from England star Matthews who had no problem scoring her first try of the game.  

Just shy of the 20 minute mark, after a brutal 19 phases  inside Gloucester-Hartpury’s ‘22. Loughborough won a penalty in a dangerous position, the home side opted to kick for touch, which luckily paid off for them as an accurate line-out and a strong maul led to Maja Mueller scoring and keeping The Lightning in the game. 

Only minutes later, after five phases on Loughborough’s tryline, Gloucester-Hartpury were able to get the ball out and find Matthews who scored her second try of the game. 

Hunt then scored her first try of the game after finding a gap in the Loughborough breakdown and was able to pick the ball up from the ruck which was already almost on the try-line and score to extend the reigning champions’ lead. 

The last action of the half saw Heard score her second try of the game after a brilliant run, breaking multiple tackles. Sing converted the try, making her the first player of the season to reach 100 points. 

Half time: Loughborough Lightning 12-35 Gloucester Hartpury

Sing had a try disallowed within the first two minutes of the second half due to a forward pass, the game went back to a Gloucester-Hartpury penalty due to the advantage at the time of the forward pass. The visitors opted for touch and were once again able to score after a strong maul, with substitute hooker Neve Jones scoring the try. 

The next try of the game also came from a maul but this time it was from the home side, Lucy Calladine scored her first ever try for The Lightning and cut the deficit to 21 points to give them a glimmer of hope. 

It only took three minutes for the visitors to respond, with a try from Spain captain Laura Delgado, capitalising on a brilliant move from The Circus that saw them travel the length of the field. 

It was all Gloucester-Hartpury as they scored another try just shy of the hour mark, this time from second row Steph Else who put her side over the 50 point mark. 

The next 10 minutes saw a shift in momentum as the home side had most of the ball, and they ended up being rewarded for this with a try from second row Cath O’ Donnell, this try secured The Lightning a bonus point try. 

The last try of the game once again came from a maul as a good line-out from Gloucester-Hartpury led to a strong maul, and a second try of the game for Neve Jones. 

Full time score: Loughborough Lightning 26-61 Gloucester-Hartpury


TRIES: 4 (Keates 8’, Mueller 20’, Calladine 50’, O’Donnell 68’) 

15 Gerogina Tasker, 14 Ellen Scantlebury, 13 Emily Scarratt, 12 Carmela Morrall, 11 Bo Westcombe- Evans, 10 Helen Nelson, 9 Lucy Weaver, 1 Amelia Williams, 2 Maja Meuller, 3 Laura Keates, 4 Emma Wassell, 5 Cath O’ Donnell,  6 Rachel Malcolm (c), 7 Sadia Kabeya, 8 Daisy Hibbert- Jones. 

REPLACEMENTS:  16 Lucy Calladine, 17 Katie Trevarthen, 18 Isla Curphrey, 19 Abigail Duguid, 20 Kendall Waudby, 21 Sally Williams, 22 Megan Davey, 23 Lia Green 


TRIES: 9 (Heard 5’, 36’, Matthews 14’, 24’, Hunt 29’, Jones 44’, 72’, Delgado 53’, Else 58’) 

15 Emma Sing, 14 Mia Venner, 13 Hannah Jones, 12 Tatyana Heard, 11 Pip Hendy, 10 Llechu George, 9 Natasha Hunt, 1 Mackenzie Carson, 2 Kelsey Jones, 3 Maud Muir, 4 Sarah Beckett,5 Steph Else, 6 Zoe Aldcroft, 7 Bethan Lewis, 8 Alex Matthews 

REPLACEMENTS: 16 Neve Jones, 17 El Perry, 18 Laura Delgado, 19 Sam Monaghan, 20 Georgia Brock, 21 Bianca Blackburn, 22 Millie Hyett, 23 Rachel Lund 

Five Talking Points: Loughborough Lightning 26-61 Gloucester-Hartpury

  1. Alex Matthews continues her Women’s Six Nations form into the Allianz Premiership
    After picking a player of the match performance in England’s grand slam winning fixture against France while scoring two tries, Matthews was able to do the same in this game, scoring two tries in another player of the match performance. 
  2. Laura Keates showed she can still perform at the top level
    It’s been a rough couple of years for Laura Keates, the ex world cup winner picked up an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the postponed 2021 world cup, and then before being fully rehabilitated her club Worcester Warriors were withdrawn from the Premiership. In March she signed for Loughborough Lightning and today she made her first start and put in an exceptional performance. 
  3. Loughborough Lightning’s refusal to kick
    Throughout the game, Loughborough Lightning only kicked the ball twice. Even when inside their own ‘22 under pressure, they opted to pass the ball around. This could be due to their oppositions attacking nature. However, one of the Lightnings two kicks was a 50:22 from Emily Scarratt. 
  4. Gloucester-Hartpury continue their perfect season
    14 games into the season and the Circus continue to run riot, so far they’ve won every game this season and picked up a bonus point win in every game apart from one. With two games left of the season (excluding playoffs), can Gloucester-Hartpury go invincible? 
  5. Gloucester-Hartpury showed dominance in the scrum
    The vast majority of scrums, whether it was for or against the visitors seemed to go their way. An impeccable drive saw even Loughborough’s scrum’s being picked up by Natasha Hunt, Loughborough’s scrum did improve after changing their props.