The Sunshine Coast Lightning will relish the return of Captain Steph Wood after being upstaged 82-54 in the Round 2 Suncorp Super Netball Queensland derby at USC Stadium.

Wood was a late withdrawal from the match day side due to COVID-19 protocols, leaving Laura Scherian to lead the side against the Queensland Firebirds.

There was little in it at quarter-time, but a 22-goal second term and 23-goal final quarter from the Firebirds made it difficult for the home side to stay in touch.

For the second consecutive week, speed of delivery was a major problem for the Lightning.

Despite the best efforts of Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Tara Hinchliffe who produced six of the team’s seven gains, the Firebirds’ transition was too quick to build an effective defensive wall.

With new defensive combinations forming, we can expect this area to be one that fires over the next few games as they build on their individual strengths and establish strong defensive combinations.

“We wanted to open our season in front of our loyal fans with a far better performance than what we put out on Saturday,” Lightning coach Kylee Byrne said.

“We’re better than that and I have the utmost confidence that this playing group will click very soon. Without Steph our attack end had some quality passages of plays, but this now needs to be delivered consistently by working harder to be on the best position possible on every single pass.”

It was not all doom and gloom for the Lightning.

New-look goal circle pairing Reilley Batcheldor (25/33) and Cara Koenen (24/29) enjoyed some cohesive passages together and will benefit from Wood’s return to the attack end.

Mahalia Cassidy renewed her rivalry with former Firebirds teammate Kim Ravaillion, contributing 30 feeds and 20 goal assists before she was switched to wing defence.

GIANTS recruit Annie Miller and Lightning training partner Annabelle Lawrie also had opportunities to build on their SSN experience.

Don’t miss out! Tickets are on sale now for the Lightning v Vixens at USC Stadium on Saturday 16 April 2022, from 5pm

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