Sunshine Coast Lightning have let slip their chance to grab the Super Netball outright competition lead after falling to Queensland Firebirds 61-52 at USC Stadium.
Firebird Kim Ravaillion produced a midcourt masterclass to restore faith within the establishment team which had tasted just one win against the Lightning since their introduction in 2017.
Firebirds shooters Romelda Aiken (34 goals from 37 attempts) and Gretel Bueta (17) were efficient with every possession.
Cara Koenen sank 36 goals after taking much of the first quarter to get firing.
Back-to-back losses to the Giants presented the Lightning with an opportunity to trample lower-placed opponent go to the top of the table but the result was not to be.
Maddy McAuliffe, was deployed in the second half in a bid to rub some of the shine from Ravaillion’s game.
Despite suffering from illness during the week, McAuliffe flashed in and out of traffic to provide the midcourt answers the Lightning had been searching for.
With McAuliffe offering spark at both ends of the court, the Lightning carved a 15-goal deficit to trail by just six at three-quarter time.
But for every gain made by the Sunshine Coast there was too often a stray pass or balled spilled out of court.
“We knew what kind of style they play and we let them play,” Sunshine Coast Kylee Byrne said.
“Instead of playing our style and doing what we’ve done well, we went away from that and became cautious and apprehensive.”