By: Netball Australia

The Melbourne Mavericks have pulled off a miraculous 72-71 last-minute win over the Sunshine Coast Lightning in Hobart.

With both teams desperate to sit in that elusive top four spot as the road to finals closes in, every play and decision becomes critical, setting the stage for a thrilling showdown. But it was the Mavericks who have taken a massive stride closer to breaking through that top four, now sitting on equal points with Lightning on the ladder.

Both teams opened up with furious defensive efforts, with the Lightning getting their hand on extra ball through the non-stop speed and hunting abilities of goal defence Tara Hinchliffe. The Lightning started strong with a 3-goal unanswered run right from the opening whistle, but it didn’t take long for the Mavericks to fight back and join the battle.

Showing no signs of her previous injury slowing her down, Cardwell shot confident early from range. As the opening Power Five sounded, it was Steph Fretwell who nailed the first Super Shot of the match.

Cardwell responded down the other end, sinking a few of her own two-pointers but the entry of Reilley Batcheldor put the Lightning ahead by two at the end of the first quarter after draining a Super Shot on the buzzer.

Cardwell nailed her second return on court for the Mavericks

The second quarter saw play ramp up to an explosive pace, with both sides unafraid to put their bodies on the line to win back ball. Kim Jenner lifted her team with a crucial intercept, but the Mavericks were unable to convert, losing possession down the other end.

After trailing by 5 goals, the Mavericks put in a wealth of work to level the scoreline at 34 a-piece. However, the Lightning managed to keep their noses in front after a Super Shot from Fretwell right on the stroke of half time.

Momentum swung back and forth between the teams in the third term, with the Lightning running out to another five-goal lead, forcing a Mavericks’ timeout. The timeout played favourable in the hands of the team in blue, managing to take the lead for the first time of the match after a crucial six-goal run.

Tayla Fraser was a powerhouse for her side

The Lightning held a one-goal lead going into the final fifteen minutes of the game, with an early intensity lift from the team in yellow, slowing the momentum of the Mavericks. Pushing out to another five-goal lead, Lightning’s connections were on point in their attack end with Liz Watson demanding space around the circle.

As the Lightning maintained a narrow lead, goal attack Gabby Sinclair made her first appearance of the game precisely at the final Power Five buzzer. A footwork call from Fretwell in the Super Shot zone allowed the Mavericks the opportunity to score, levelling the game at 68-all.

Happy to shoot one-pointers, Lightning displayed controlled play in an attempt to run down the clock with a three-goal lead but Sinclair came through with two massive Super Shots, putting the Mavericks in front by one with eight seconds to go.

A missed Super Shot on the buzzer from Fretwell meant the Mavericks secured another one-goal win over the Lightning in the dying moments of the match. With the team in blue breaking the hearts of Lightning back in Round 4 with a 65-64 win, securing their first ever victory in Suncorp Super Netball history.

Despite the defeat, the Lightning still remain fourth on the ladder due to their percentage, however all teams now have a chance to enter that top four. The Mavericks look to take on the GIANTS next week at Ken Rosewall Arena, while the Lightning ready themselves for the Battle of the Bruce against their state rivals, the Queensland Firebirds.

More Articles