Major Semi Final spot secured
Via Suncorp Super Netball
The Sunshine Coast Lightning has secured a top two Suncorp Super Netball finish, and a chance to host the Major Semi Final, after holding off GIANTS Netball in a thriller at Qudos Bank Arena.
The Lightning had to find another gear after trailing deep into the last quarter of their high-quality 56-55 final round victory.
Such was the desperation from each camp, there were bodies flying everywhere and some landed with an audible thud after several accidental collisions.
They started the last quarter in a tense 41-41 deadlock and a stirring comeback looked likely when the Giants surged to lead by four goals with less than five minutes remaining.
A fumble from the hosts, followed by an intercept to outstanding Lightning midcourter Laura Langman swung momentum back in favour of Lightning who had too many experienced stars to let the game slip.
Kristina Brice’s 22 goals in the second half gave impetus to the Giants’ fightback, as did the cool decision-making of Susan Pettitt at wing attack.
The Lightning’s Caitlin Bassett earned every one of her 39 goals in the face of a spirited Giants defence.
The first quarter tempo was set by the respective wing defenders.
Langman, arguably one of the game’s greatest players of the past decade, was an energetic presence in both attack and defence.
She wore down Giants wing attack Sarah Wall and was an important part of her team’s transition into attack.
Jamie-Lee Price was almost as effective for the Giants as she forced the Sunshine Coast to swing wide to penetrate the circle.
The Lightning were up to it, however, with the speed and accuracy of their passing enabling them to keep a steady flow of possession up to Caitlin Bassett.
Sunshine Coast trailed by a goal at quarter-time but with, every considered pass, inched towards gaining control.
They led by four goals when Bassett was forced off with blood trickling from her lip after an accidental elbow clash.
What could have been a momentum-swinging change reinforced the composure of the Lightning who held the margin while Cara Koenen was standing in for the Diamonds sharpshooter.
The Giants started the third term with all the work ahead of them and injected Brice at shooter to spark a change.
Defender Rebecca Bulley, however, was the one who started the uprising.
Although initially unrewarded for her efforts, Bulley’s relentless pressure eventually led to possession for the Giants, and together with Sam Poolman the pair restricted the Lightning’s gun shooting partnership to nine goals in the third quarter.
Brice finished their hard-earned possession gains with 11 goals in a twisting third term.
Official Result & Statistics
Official Result: Sunshine Coast Lightning (56) defeated GIANTS Netball (55)
Giants shooting statistics
Jo Harten 24/27 (89%)
Kristina Brice 22/25 (88%)
Susan Pettitt 9/11 (82%)
Lightning shooting statistics
Caitlin Bassett 39/41 (95%)
Stephanie Wood 17/22 (77%)
Cara Koenen 0/0 (0%)
Giants starting seven – GS: Susan Pettitt, GA: Jo Harten, WA: Sarah Wall, C: Serena Guthrie, WD: Jamie-Lee Price, GD: Bec Bulley, GK: Sam Poolman
Lightning starting seven – GS: Caitlin Bassett, GA: Stephanie Wood, WA: Kelsey Browne, C: Laura Scherian, WD: Laura Langman, GD: Karla Mostert, GK: Geva Mentor.
Match MVP: Jamie-Lee Price (Giants)