By: Suncorp Super Netball
The NSW Swifts have beaten Sunshine Coast Lightning by four points at Ken Rosewall Arena.
Both teams brought a lot of intensity to the round eight clash, and the Swifts and Lightning were goal-for-goal for the first few minutes of the game, until Maddy Proud picked up an intercept in the pocket for the home side. But Romelda Aiken-George was called for a held ball on her shot due to the pressure from fellow Jamaican Kadie-Ann Dehaney. Sunshine Coast Lightning then capitalised and were able to get out to an early 2-goal lead (8-6).
Sarah Klau picked up a clean intercept in the circle for the NSW Swifts, but they couldn’t convert as Aiken-George missed her shot. The transition from the Lightning down court was then extremely quick. But the Swifts then regained possession and finally capitalised.
There seemed to be quite a bit of back-and-forth between the two teams, with both sides having turnovers at either end of the court.
Mahalia Cassidy sustained an injury to the face, so Ava Black (Lightning temporary replacement player) was brought onto the court in wing defence.
Helen Housby scored a supershot for the NSW Swifts during the Power Five, and the game was all locked up, until Steph Wood reciprocated with a supershot of her own for Lightning.
The Lightning finished the first quarter with a 2-goal lead over the Swifts (17-15).
The Lightning midcourters seemed to be finding Cara Koenen quite easily in the shooting circle to start the second quarter.
Tayla Fraser got a tip for the Swifts which caused Laura Scherian to fumble the ball over the sideline. But Karla Pretorius picked up an intercept of her own at the other end, regaining possession for the Lightning.
Housby picked up a ball for the Swifts and Aiken-George converted. With their own centre pass to follow, the Swifts were able to score and bring the game back to even (26-26).
Wood scored a supershot as soon as the Power Five started. The Swifts then replied with a single-point shot.
Klau got a hand in and Proud picked up the loose ball, but Dehaney responded at the other end with an intercept for the Lightning.
Wood and Housby were going supershot-for-supershot in the final minutes of the quarter, and one from Housby on the buzzer meant the Swifts led the Lightning 35-34 heading into half-time.
The Swifts had a strong start to the third quarter, quickly getting out to a 3-goal lead.
The Lightning were patient in attack, allowing time for the shooters to set up and create space.
O’Shannassy picked up a clean intercept for the Swifts, and they had a quick transition down court with Aiken-George capitalising.
There was a lot of physicality across the court and the Swifts were strong in defence, especially on the transverse line, making it difficult for the Lightning to penetrate into the shooting circle.
A missed shot from the Lightning was tipped away by O’Shannassy and the Swifts were able to convert, bringing them out to a 5-goal lead (46-41).
Ashleigh Ervin came onto the court as goalkeeper for the Lightning, and immediately had an impact with a tip.
Wood scored a few supershots, reducing the deficit for the Lightning, but Housby responded at the other end with her own supershots for the Swifts.
Turner got a tip for the Swifts and they capitalised through Aiken-George, heading into the final quarter up by 4 goals (53-49).
The Lightning changed up their defensive line-up slightly to start the fourth quarter, with Dehaney returning to court at goalkeeper, Ervin moving to goal defence, and Pretorius moving into wing defence.
Proud picked up a loose ball for the Swifts and the shooters converted, increasing the home team’s lead out to 6 (56-50).
The Swifts were strong in defence and forced some errors from the Lightning.
Ervin picked up a rebound off a missed shot from Aiken-George and the Lightning were able to score through Koenen. The visitors had a sense of urgency as they needed to claw back the margin, and Pretorius got a critical intercept for the Lightning just as they needed it, and they brought the deficit back to 4 (62-58).
The Power Five was crucial for both teams, but a missed supershot from Wood was detrimental for the Lightning as the Swifts kept the scoreboard ticking over, increasing their lead in the dying minutes of the game.
Koenen scored a supershot which helped the visitors to claw back to the margin, and then Pretorius picked up an intercept, giving the Lightning possession once again.
Aiken-George missed a supershot in the final seconds but O’Shannassy picked up an intercept at the other end, denying the Lightning a chance to shoot.
The Swifts ended the match with a 4-goal win (67-63), their biggest winning margin all season.