Lightning shows flashes of brilliance in practice matches

Sunshine Coast has come away with a win and a loss from its first weekend of practice matches, to give members and fans plenty of hope ahead of the inaugural Suncorp Super Netball season which begins Saturday 18 February.

Lightning toppled 2016 Trans-Tasman Netball League runner-up, New South Wales Swifts, but stumbled against fellow foundation Club, GIANTS Netball.

In front of a sell-out crowd on Saturday night, Sunshine Coast fielded a mix of youth and experience in its starting seven and the home team didn’t look overawed against its highly credentialed rival.

Lightning lead at quarter-time but trailed by two goals at the main break. The host clawed back the margin and entered the final term up by one and held on for a 48-46 victory. Lightning Coach Noeline Taurua was pragmatic post-match.

“It’s always good to come out on the right side of the ledger but it’s only a practice match and there are so many things we need to work on,” Taurua said.

“Overall, there were glimpses of positive play from everybody and some of the things we have been working on at training were on display on-court.

“I’m realistic about where we’re at this stage. There are some good things but some areas of concern. In saying that, it’s a good start for us and we have put a stake in the ground.”

On Sunday, Lightning rested star shooter Caitlin Bassett and gave Training Partners Dominque Scott and Maria Lutua a chance in the goal third against fellow competition new-comer, GIANTS.

Lead by veteran Australian Diamond Susan Pettitt, the New South Wales Club was tenacious and overcame a three-goal, half-time deficit to prevail by 11 goals.

The shooter admitted she was looking forward to facing Lightning in round four of the Suncorp Super Netball competition on 11 March at University of the Sunshine Coast Sports Stadium.

“It will be fantastic coming up here to the Sunshine Coast. We haven’t played there before and it’s going to be exciting to experience the atmosphere there,” Pettitt said.

For Lightning midcourter Laura Langman, the 52-41 loss was a learning experience.

“We now have a clear understanding of where we need to get to in the next few weeks,” Langman said.

“It’s great to give them (Training Partners) time on court because you never know what may happen during the season.

“I think in patches we improved from the first practice match to the second.

“Every combination out there had moments where it looked slick. There are combinations that are very natural which is a good starting point.

“Coming into a practice match is a challenge in itself because you don’t have a feel for what the match tempo is.

“We can all learn from this. That’s what pre-season is about; to find out what works and to find out what’s required whether you’re starting or coming off the bench.

“It was a well-run event and we got a lot out of it and we appreciate all three teams travelling north to be here.”

Lightning now turns its attention to two practice matches against Vixens at Caloundra Indoor Stadium on 21 and 22 January. These games will be open exclusively for Lightning members.

Fans can find out more about Lightning memberships at https://premier.sportsubs.com.au/nnl/lightning/.

Lightning   48 – 46   Swifts
Lightning   41 – 52   GIANTS
Firebirds    54 – 54   GIANTS
Firebirds    52 – 49   Swifts