By: Netball Australia

The Sunshine Coast Lightning have delivered an impressive 64-57 win, snapping the Melbourne Vixens’ winning streak and making a notable return to the winner’s circle.

After a heartbreaking outcome last week against the GIANTS, Lightning were fired up from the starting whistle, fighting until the very end against a hard fought Vixens.

Storming out of the blocks, Sunshine Coast Lightning went on a six-goal run early in the opening quarter. All eyes were on Lightning’s Vice Captain, Liz Watson, as she matched up against her old team for the first time in the 2024 season. Watson was in clinical form, dominating the match with 22 goal assists, 45 feeds and pulling off one intercept and two deflections.

The Vixens called a tactical timeout following a shaky start, managing to score their first point nearly five minutes into the quarter. The timeout proved effective, as the home team regained their usual patient play, tying the score heading into the Power Five.

Hannah Mundy was an early standout for the Vixens, using clever vision to feed Sophie Garbin, who stood strong under the ring. After a quiet start, the Vixens attack end lifted immensely during the first Power Five, with a super shot off the hot hands of Kiera Austin giving the hosts a 5-goal lead at the end of the first term.

Liz Watson takes on her old side for the first time in 2024

Lightning’s defender Ash Ervin’s three intercepts, seven deflections and three rebounds were the individual highlight of the game. Finishing on 103 Nissan Net Points, Ervin steered the Lightning defence with devastating effect, combining with Tara Hinchliffe to provide double-teams at every opportunity.

Player of the match Leesa Mi Mi was a force to be reckoned with, making herself known down both ends of the court. The Lightning newcomer chalked up a staggering 30 feeds, 19 goal assists and two intercepts.

The wing attack and centre combinations from both sides were instrumental in dictating the speed and flow of the game. Mundy and Moloney impressed with their strong second phase depth, while Mi Mi and Watson played composed and consistent netball to take care of business.

After trailing at the end of the first quarter, the Lightning clawed their way back to hold a 28-25 lead going into the second Power Five. A pinpoint super shot from Steph Fretwell gave the Lightning a slight upper hand going into the main break 34-30.

It was an intense battle between the mid-courts

In an attempt to confuse the minds of Lightning’s feeders, coach Simone McKinnis made tactical changes within her defensive line in the third quarter. With Rudi Ellis moving into goal keeper to pair with the in-form Emily Mannix in goal defence, while Jo Weston was free to wreak havoc out at wing defence.

The change pulled off for the home side, with Mannix out hunting and claiming a couple of crucial intercepts to bring the scoreline back to 41 a-piece.

Although her radar seemed to be slightly off throughout the match, Cara Koenen made the baseline home, to give Reilley Batcheldor the space to drop super shots during clutch moments. Despite a Vixens’ lift, Lightning managed to keep their noses in front by 3-goals, with an intense fifteen minutes left to be played out.

Sunshine Coast Lightning defeat the Melbourne Vixens

Emily Mannix fought tirelessly until the very end, capitalising on every chance to recover loose balls. Despite her side not being able to get over the line, Mannix racked up 113 Nissan Net Points and was pivotal in keeping the Vixens alive with four intercepts and 10 deflections.

With a 7-goal advantage to Lightning heading into the final Power Five, Austin and Garbin had to resort to sinking two-pointers, but it was too little, too late.

In a fiercely contested game, it was the Sunshine Coast Lightning who emerged victorious, ending the Vixens’ reign.

The Lightning will look to take on the QLD Firebirds next week in an exciting Battle of the Bruce, while the Vixens take on heavyweights West Coast Fever at RAC Arena.

More Articles