Lightning surges to victory with fantastic fourth quarter
THE SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING HAVE REAFFIRMED THEIR PREMIERSHIP CREDENTIALS WITH A STUNNING COME-FROM-BEHIND WIN AGAINST A BRACE BUT OUTGUNNED NSW SWIFTS AT OLYMPIC PARK.
Home team the Swifts took some skin off the Suncorp Super Netball heavyweights but could not complete the mission as the Lightning charged home to win 55-50.
With a handy lead at the final change, the game was there to win for the Swifts.
Goal shooter Sam Wallace was delivering, the midcourt was functioning, and defender Sarah Klau was having the game of her life against scoring machine Caitlin Bassett.
But in the space of eight frantic minutes, Lightning captain Geva Mentor had two more intercepts, the Swifts began to panic and the visitors had engineered an eight-goal turnaround.
Bassett finished with 38 goals at 93 per cent, while Wallace (33/37) was strong but could not haul her side home.
There were no signs early on of the Swifts side that was overrun in the previous round by GIANTS Netball.
They employed a quick-release style of ball movement to limit the time the Lightning defenders had to attack the ball.
And it worked well, with Maddy Proud and Wallace connecting well to give the side a 17-16 lead at quarter-time.
Sunshine Coast stuck its strength – highly disciplined and cohesive management of space at the attack end and great strength and vision in defence.
The Lightning’s possession game gradually washed away the Swifts’ lead.
Laura Scherian and Stephanie Wood worked tirelessly and used the ball smartly to shift the ball into Caitlin Bassett’s hands.
The home side must have been encouraged, however, by the performance of goal keeper Klau.
Klau’s light footwork and timing enabled her to place enormous pressure on the feeds into the Diamonds shooter.
Sunshine Coast enjoyed a 32-26 lead at halftime, an edge that lasted just several minutes into the third term.
The injection of youngster Claire O’Brien energised the Swifts’ midcourt, and the 20-year-old wing attack looked cool beyond her years as a feeder.
She was part of a stirring revival for the Swifts, and a troubling time for the Lightning who gave away three penalties in attack and allowed the home side to craft a four-goal lead at three-quarter time.
For the first time this season it appeared Bassett would not be a saviour as she was held to just five goals during that third term.
After the final change, both Bassett and midcourter Laura Langman clicked as the Lightning won the term 16-7.
Nissan Player of the Match: Geva Mentor (Lightning)