Lightning Outlast Brave Vixens

with AAP

Sunshine Coast Lightning has continued their flying start to the 2021 season after defeating the Melbourne Vixens 56-51 at John Cain Arena, to leave the reigning premiers winless after two rounds.

The Vixens made a horror start to Sunday’s clash between two of the league’s most successful franchises and the Lightning looked set to record a lopsided victory after charging ahead by 14 points in the third quarter.

Malawi international Mwai Kumwenda inspired a fourth-quarter revival to cut the margin to five points in the closing minutes but it was not enough to prevent the Vixens from losing their opening two games for the first time in the Super Netball era.

“I think our attack end stayed really composed in that time and defensively we were able to pick up some really important balls and start getting some rebounds,” Lightning Wing Defence Maddy McAuliffe told the Nine Network.

“Credit to the Vixens. They came out and threw something different at us so I think we can’t look past that.”

Cara Koenen finished with 42 goals for Lightning while new skipper Karla Pretorius continually disrupted the Vixen’s attacking game to collect 5 deflections, 4 gains and 2 intercepts.

Melbourne’s issues controlling the ball resulted in 19 first-half turnovers, 10 of those coming in the opening quarter as the visitors made a strong 15-11 start, while only adding nine goals in the second period to fall behind by 11 at the main break.

The Vixens rallied in the third quarter by taking better care of the ball, Kaylia Stanton and Ruby Barkmeyer each adding two-point Super Shots to close the term down by 10 points.

Desperate play from Kumwenda helped Melbourne open the final quarter with the first four goals as they tried to claw back into the contest but Peace Proscovia settled the Lightning with a timely goal and the visitors held firm to the finish.

While disappointed with their first-half performance, defender Jo Weston said that the fight on display by the Vixens in the second half will only benefit the development of first-year players such as Hannah Mundy and Ruby Barkmeyer.

“We’ve got a lot of fresh faces out there and new combinations so obviously we’ve been working on that at training,” Weston said.

“But under the immense pressure, especially with a talented team like the Lightning, we’ve really got to work to be more consistent with that.”

Don’t miss out! Tickets are now on sale for Sunshine Coast Lightning’s first 2 home games at USC Stadium for Season 2021.