Lightning on track towards a top two finish

Imports Laura Langman and Geva Mentor have led the Sunshine Coast Lightning to a 56-49 Suncorp Super Netball win against Magpies Netball at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena. It was a timely statement from the experienced Lightning duo who steered the side back on track towards a top two finish and, with it, a double chance in next month’s finals.

Langman’s statistics don’t reflect how brilliant she was in affecting the tempo in the midcourt and keeping a lid on the contribution of Magpies skipper, Madi Robinson.

And Mentor was a key figure in the team’s defensive performance against Caitlin Thwaites (33 goals at 80 per cent).

Lightning shooter Caitlin Bassett wore some heavy bumps in a ripping battle with Sharni Layton.

There was no clear winner in that duel, but Bassett’s composure and strength yielded a perfect 37 goals from 37 attempts.

The tale of the first quarter was told by the heavy influence of the defenders at each end.

Lightning star Laura Langman got her hands on plenty of ball while another wing defence, Ash Brazill, lurked across the transverse line and pounced on any imperfect passes that came her way.

Sunshine Coast captain Geva Mentor was also in the game early with an intercept and three deflections in the opening quarter.

There was little in it at the first break, the Lightning leading 14-12 thanks to a marginally greater share of possession.

Sunshine Coast stretched their advantage to six goals within minutes of the re-start, prompting the Magpies to swap the bibs of goalers Caitlin Thwaites and Cody Lange.

Thwaites was the competition’s leading shooter before the game, but, after scoring at an uncharacteristic 67 per cent accuracy for the first 20 minutes, a change-up was justified.

At goal attack she was far more influential and scored nine goals in the second quarter.

A more decisive period from Sunshine Coast’s Kelsey Browne played a major part in her side building a 29-23 lead at halftime.

Her speed and quick hands demanded more attention from Brazill, and goal shooter Caitlin Bassett capitalised on the creativity in front of the circle.

Magpies coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell tossed another grenade into the mix by benching Kim Ravaillion for Shae Brown to start the third quarter.

Alice Teague-Neeld was another fresh face for the home side in a see-sawing third term.

Sunshine Coast led by 10 at one point before the Magpies clawed back to trail by five at the final break.

Brown had the impact her coach needed, with a productive 22 feeds in just 30 minutes.

Result: Sunshine Coast Lightning (56) v Magpies Netball (49)

Lightning shooting statistics
Caitlin Bassett 37/37 (100%)
Steph Wood 19/23 (83%)

Magpies shooting statistics
Caitlin Thwaites 33/41 (80%)
Alice Teague-Neeld 8/9 (89%)
Cody Lange 8/14 (57%)

Via Suncorp Super Netball / Netball Australia