Lightning strikes twice
Some of Australia’s most elite netballers have proven Lightning can strike twice, with Sunshine Coast Lightning winning its second consecutive netball premiership in a grand final showdown against West Coast Fever.
Tipped as the underdogs, Lightning secured a 62-59 win in front of a record crowd of 13,722 people at Perth Arena.
Lightning midcourter Maddy McAuliffe said the team’s belief in their ability to go back-to-back had been strong from the outset.
“A lot of people wrote us off after some narrow losses at the beginning of the season but we always knew we were capable of making finals and potentially going all the way,” McAuliffe said.
“We spent a lot of time in training this week looking at ways to shut down the connection between Fowler and Medhurst and retain possession of the ball and I think those efforts really paid off today.”
“We were up against a very vocal and parochial crowd and were able to harness some of that energy on the court, which I think really helped to spur us on.”
Head Coach Noeline Taurua said Lightning had fought hard against a determined Fever line-up.
“I’m really excited by what we were able put out on court. Over the last three or four weeks we’ve been building nicely as a unit, with Laura Scherian and Maddy McAuliffe doing a lot of work in grounding down their players.
“It’s an amazing feeling to get the win and it’s a bit surreal at this stage. The game was so close.
“This one’s been a bit more challenging than last year because we’ve taken the harder road and had to travel a lot of kilometres.”
Lightning captain Geva Mentor said she was still in shock at having secured back-to-back premiership wins.
“It hasn’t quite set in yet. The score line was see-sawing all the way through and it was so tough out on court.
“It wasn’t pretty but we definitely turned the tide in that third quarter.”
Mentor said Taurua’s message to the team had been clear all season.
“It’s been about not giving in, believing in ourselves and knowing we’ve got the game plan to pull through.
“I can’t quite comprehend what we’ve managed to achieve.”
Sunshine Coast Lightning is the only team to have won a Suncorp Super Netball premiership since the league’s inception.
Goal shooter Caitlin Bassett was named Most Valuable Player.
Players will celebrate their victory on home soil at an open community meet and mingle later this week. The event will be held at Buhk Park at Alexandra Headland between 5pm and 6pm AEST on Wednesday, 29 August.
To find out more about Sunshine Coast Lightning, visit www.sunshinecoastlightning.com.au or follow the Club on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.