By: Netball Australia

The Sunshine Coast Lightning defeated the New South Wales Swifts by just two goals, executing a clinical and high-intensity game. Although it was a tight game throughout, Lightning won the first three quarters which was enough for them to seal the win, and clear themselves from being tied on points with the Swifts on the Super Netball ladder.

It was a middle-of-the-table clash with the Sunshine Coast Lightning sitting in fourth and the NSW Swifts in fifth, and with both teams coming off the back of losses it was a crucial game to win.

Swifts co-captain Maddy Proud returned from a knee injury, and her presence on court was vital for the home side.

Likewise, Courtney Bruce also returned from injury for the Lightning, however she started the match on the bench.

It was a fast-paced start to the game, with both teams coming out firing from the first whistle, and they went goal-for-goal for the first six minutes, but a tip from Tara Hinchliffe gave Lightning the early advantage. However, Sarah Klau responded with an almost-immediate tip of her own and the score returned back to even.

All of a sudden both sides started to make small errors and there was a lot of back-and-forth in possession. Both the Lightning and the Swifts attacked the first Power Five period, and the scoreline remained tight right through the final five minutes of the quarter.

The Lightning just edged out their lead, and they ended the first quarter up 20-18.

Cara Koenen
It was a tight first quarter.

The clinical game-play continued from both teams to start the second quarter, and they remained goal-for-goal again until the defensive pressure from the Lightning forced the Swifts to give up possession.

The home side won back ball thanks to their own defensive pressure, and they clawed their deficit back to two. Klau then picked up an almost-perfect intercept, and the NSW side capitalised. With their own centre pass to follow, the Swifts got themselves back to even.

When the second Power Five period started, Klau and Maddy Turner immediately double-defended Steph Fretwell but that didn’t stop her from landing a supershot. She attempted another at the next centre pass, but this time it fell short and the Swifts picked up the rebound and landed a supershot of their own.

It was a tightly contested second quarter but the Lightning managed to hold on to their slight lead, ending the first half up 39-36.

The second half of the match was just as high-intensity as the first, with both sides picking up right where they left off.

An early wayward ball from the Lightning gave the Swifts possession and they converted, and then scored again on their own centre pass. This brought the scoreboard back to level once again.

Ash Ervin successfully blocked a shot by Helen Housby, but Klau regained possession at the other end. After some more back-and-forth, the Lightning ultimately scored a few goals in quick succession and found themselves in front by three goals.

Hinchliffe picked up another intercept but Allie Smith caused a turnover for the Swifts, and they clawed back another goal on the scoreboard.

The third Power Five period was again utilised by both teams, with Fretwell wasting no time in going for the two-point shot. A missed supershot from Housby gave the Lightning another opportunity to capitalise and the visitors suddenly found themselves up by five goals.

Bruce finally entered the court with two minutes to go in the third, and the Lightning stormed home at the end of the quarter with another supershot scored, this time by Reilley Batcheldor. They entered the final quarter up 55-47.

The final quarter seemed to go the way of the Swifts, starting with Proud picking up a much-needed intercept early on in the fourth quarter. The home side chipped away at the scoreboard, reducing their deficit slightly.

Klau gained a deflection and the Swifts seemed to really start to lift. Koenen was then called for an offensive contact which was another win for the Swifts, and the home side were suddenly back to within two goals.

A missed shot from Fawns seemed to slow their momentum, and the Lightning quickly found themselves with a bigger lead. An offensive contact against Paige Hadley gave the visitors another opportunity to score and their buffer extended to six.

There was a lot of pressure on the Swifts to attack the final Power Five period to try and bring back the scoreline, so a missed supershot from Housby was not ideal for the home side. Meanwhile, the Lightning just continued ticking away the scoreboard.

However, the Swifts were able to come back and land multiple two-pointers, and in the final minutes of the game found themselves within two goals of the Lightning.

Despite the NSW Swifts winning the final quarter, the Sunshine Coast Lightning were ultimately able to hold on to their lead, and won the match 66-64.

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