By: Suncorp Super Netball
The Sunshine Coast Lightning hosted the Collingwood Magpies to kick off the first week of the First Nations Round. With finals no longer being a possibility for both sides, there was still plenty to play for as neither team wants to finish the season on the bottom of the ladder.
The momentum swung back and forth in the opening quarter at UniSC Arena, with both sides showing dominance early in their attack lines.
An offside call against the Lightning gave the Magpies an early chance to break away, after going goal-for-goal in the first term.
Momentum seemed to swing in the Magpies’ favour, with loose balls falling into the hands of the away side.
The defensive duo of Geva Mentor and Jodi-Ann Ward caused doubt in the minds of the Lightning feeders, with their relentless one-on-one pressure in the goal circle.
In true Karla Pretorius form, the South African International came up with a stellar intercept and was rewarded by Cara Koenen down the other end, as the home side trailed by 3 (9-12).
The first Super Shot of the match was drained by Steph Wood, as she levelled the score 13-13. The Lightning captain also celebrated her 100th SSN match and finished the game with an impressive 6 Super Shots to her name.
Lightning coach Belinda Reynolds was forced to call a tactical timeout as the Magpies continued to dominate in the second half. Ash Ervin was brought into the game at GK and made an instant impact, coming up with a crucial intercept for her side.
As the Magpies took their biggest lead of the match, Steph Wood sunk two critical Super Shots to keep Lightning in the battle, but the visitors were able to keep their 7-goal lead going into half time (32-39).
After trailing for majority of the second half, Lightning made strategic changes to their seven in the third term, moving Scherian into WA, Cassidy into C and young gun Ava Black into WD.
The positional switches payed off for the Lightning, bringing their full court connection back into play and coming up with 5 consecutive goals.
The Magpies struggled to reply, being outplayed by the Lightning in the third quarter, with a goal from Wood locking up the score at 41-41 after a 7-goal deficit at half time.
Lightning continued their third quarter surge in front of their loud home crowd, as the Magpies’ attack line showed clear disconnect.
Defensive pair Dehaney and Pretorius made the third term their own, with strong hands over pressure on every Magpies’ ball, forcing wayward feeds into Nelson.
A stellar Super Shot off the hands of Wood sealed a 3-goal lead for the Lightning, but the Magpies showed no signs of backing down in the final quarter.
The Lightning called their last tactical timeout of the game, as they held a 1-goal lead going into the final Power Five (60-59).
Both sides played safe, taking 1-point goals but a trademark Super Shot from Wood put the Lightning in front 64-62.
Sophie Garbin was forced to shoot out the game but was unable to find the centre of the ring as Ash Ervin impressed with her hands over pressure. Ervin finished the match with 4 deflections, 2 intercepts and 2 rebounds to her name.
Lightning continued to create breathing room, bringing the final score line out to 66-62 and Steph Wood was rewarded with player-of-the-match after her impressive performance.
Both sides are in for a tough week in the second First Nations Round; with the Magpies hosting the current ladder leaders, the Adelaide Thunderbirds, while the Lightning will fly West to go up against the Fever.