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Lightning pushes for top two finish

Via Suncorp Super Netball

CAITLIN BASSETT MADE A SURPRISE VISIT TO THE BENCH AS HER SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING PROFESSIONALLY DEFEATED WEST COAST FEVER 64-50 AT USC STADIUM.

Such was their even contribution across every position, it was a luxury the Lightning could afford as they continued to build their case for a top two Suncorp Super Netball finish and a lifeline during the finals.

Bassett scored 37 goals by her final quarter exit, but did not exercise her customary influence against West Coast defender Courtney Bruce who pinched four intercepts in a determined performance.

After taking much of the first quarter to get moving, the hosts comfortably controlled the next three terms.

Laura Langman’s court smarts made life difficult for the Fever’s attackers.

The Fever’s Kate Beveridge was a confident target, however, scoring 34 goals in a rare starting appearance.

The first quarter was a tale of opportunity lost for the visiting Fever.

With captain Natalie Medhurst contributing heavily, they jumped out to lead by five goals before being hauled back in by the Lightning.

The West Australians controlled possession but failed to hurt their hosts on the scoreboard.

In contrast, Sunshine Coast’s Bassett and Stephanie Wood shot at 100 per cent accuracy for most of the first half.

It was the fleeting but important moments that cost West Coast in the lead-up to halftime. Like a Medhurst and Beveridge mix-up that turned over valuable attacking possession. Or like Wood out-rebounding Stacey Francis after a rimmed shot.

In a contest this close, those were the moments that mattered.

Sunshine Coast emerged from halftime with a 31-24 lead and quickly turned that into an 11-goal lead.

While not at their best, the Lightning were measured enough to keep the visitors at bay.

Langman and Laura Scherian wasted no possession, and that left West Coast with few opportunities to eat into the deficit.

Needing a change-up at three-quarter time, the Fever made the surprise move of benching Verity Charles who had been one of the hardest working and most creative players.

The switch was short-lived, with Charles returning midway through the final term, along with a re-shaped defensive line.

With the lead blown out to 12 with five minutes remaining, Sunshine Coast also turned to its bench as both sides looked to hand valuable minutes to their understudies.