Lightning Retain Top Two Ladder Position With Thunderbirds Win

AAP / Suncorp Super Netball

The Sunshine Coast Lightning have kept pace with the Suncorp Super Netball ladder leaders after defeating the Adelaide Thunderbirds 53-45.

Adelaide came into Sunday’s clash at USC Stadium with the opportunity to move two games clear of those teams outside the top four if they could claim a third win in a row.

But the Lightning showed why they continue to be one of the elite teams of the competition, using their versatility and experience to hold off the Thunderbirds with a dominant 14-7 fourth-quarter effort.

Goal shooter Cara Koenen was a standout performer with 32 goals as the Lightning joined the Melbourne Vixens and NSW Swifts on five wins after six rounds.

Koenen told Nine Network she was pleased with the result but felt that a tendency to drop off in the middle of games was becoming an unwanted trend.

“We had a really good game against the Swifts where we strung together four good quarters but throughout the game we are going missing in patches,” Koenen said.

“We just need to stick to our game plan, stay consistent and identify what’s working for us then continue doing that.”

The late withdrawal of co-captain Hannah Petty due to injury was a blow for the Thunderbirds but they battled hard after falling behind early, winning the second and third quarters before fading late in the contest.

The Lightning’s game plan appeared to focus on keeping defensive dynamo Shamera Sterling out of the action and it worked to perfection in the opening quarter, Koenen collecting 10 goals and two rebounds as they led by seven goals at quarter time.

Sunshine Coast extended their advantage to nine early in the second term but the visitors kept chipping away at the lead, Georgie Horjus landing a Suncorp Super Shot in the Rebel Power 5 as Adelaide reduced the margin to 27-22 at halftime.

The third period turned into an absorbing battle but the Lightning refused to go away, Sasha Glasgow nailing a super shot to cap a 16-12 quarter for the Thunderbirds to trail by one goal.

But the Lightning found the right combination in the final quarter, Peace Proscovia entering the game to score four of the first five goals and Steph Wood controlling the play from wing attack as Adelaide missed six of their last seven shots.

All games for the next three rounds will be held at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena with the Lightning opening Wednesday night’s double-header against the NSW Swifts, followed by the Thunderbirds taking on the Melbourne Vixens.

Score breakdown
Q1: Lightning 16 v Thunderbirds 9
Q2: Lightning 11 Thunderbirds 13
Q3: Lightning 12 v Thunderbirds 16
Q4: Lightning 14 v Thunderbirds 7

Nissan Player of The Match – Cara Koenen (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

Lightning shooting statistics 
Cara Koenen: Total points – 32 G1 32/36 (88%)
Steph Wood: Total points – 14 G1 14/19 (73%) G2 0/1
Peace Proscovia: Total points – 7 G1 7/7 (100%)

Thunderbirds shooting statistics
Sasha Glasgow: Total points – 4 G1 2/4 (50%) G2 1/6 (16%)
Georgie Horjus: Total points – 13 G1 9/12 (75%) G2 2/6 (33%)
Lenize Potgieter: Total points – 28 G1 28/29 (96%)

Lightning starting seven: GS – Cara Koenen GA – Steph Wood WA – Laura Scherian C – Laura Langman WD – Maddy McAuliffe GD – Karla Pretorius GK – Phumza Maweni

Thunderbirds starting seven: GS – Lenize Potgieter GA – Georgie Horjus WA – Chelsea Pitman C – Maisie Nankivell WD – Shadine van der Merwe GD – Layla Guscoth GK – Shamera Sterling