Queensland Firebirds v Sunshine Coast Lightning
Queensland Rivalry To Have Extra Spice (Via Suncorp Super Netball)
Sunday 6 May 1.00pm
Brisbane Entertainment Centre
Broadcast: Live on Nine, Telstra TV, Netball Live App
On Demand Catch Up: 9Now, Telstra TV, Netball Live App
The all-Queensland derby will have plenty of spice, with both clubs looking to rebound from tough opening round losses.
Sunshine Coast were well in the contest against the GIANTS at the three quarter mark, before being out-classed in the final term. And Queensland were pacing the NSW Swifts by as many as eight goals in the third quarter before ultimately losing on the final siren.
That match marked the return of former skipper Laura Geitz, who took last season off following the birth of her first child. But the tough defender will miss this clash with a back injury.
Lightning shooter Caitlin Bassett might be playing down the depth of feeling ahead of the crucial clash, but rest assured there’ll be little love lost for those 90 minutes on Sunday as both teams chase their first win of the season.
Bassett admits the Lightning struggled last week, with half the squad suffering a “Comm Games hangover” after an intense few weeks with their respective national teams, but expects an improved performance this weekend.
“I think when we play our best we’re going to be pretty good. We definitely didn’t hit our straps the other week against the Giants,” she says.
“Obviously we haven’t had a great preparation. We’ve had a few Comm Games athletes in our teams and obviously I think you could see that out on court at times, there was a little bit of a disconnect.”
But the Diamonds captain says that if a three-goal loss in a grand final rematch is the Lightning at their worst, there’s plenty to be excited about.
“I guess exciting things going forward, after the game we were disappointed to lose but we had to take so many positives from it. Defensively I think we turned over a lot of ball, we probably struggled a bit through our midcourt,” she says.
“I think a loss sometimes is what you need to give you that little bit of a push. While we’d like to take it from a win, we’ll definitely be looking to get out there and have a red hot crack.”
One hurdle the Lightning – and Bassett in particular – won’t have to contend with is Firebirds captain Laura Geitz, who’s been ruled out of the derby with a back injury.
But Bassett says there’ll be tough contests all over the court regardless.
“I think also Geva (Mentor) and Romelda (Aiken) down the other end are going to be cracking, and obviously Gretel Tippett and Carla Mostert, our other international, is going to be an exciting match-up as well.”
As the surprise inaugural SSN champions, you could forgive Lightning for being a little slow to get rolling in season 2018. Bassett insists it’s not a premiership hangover, but simply a case of needing to spend a bit more time together in order to rediscover their groove.
“I think if anything it’s more of a Comm Games hangover. There was so much excitement in the lead-up to that, and now for us to face a super tight and physical SSN season is a whole new challenge. Now it’s time to relax and really click in together,” she says.
“The best teams always rise to the occasion and it’s the challenge for us now not to rest on our laurels from last year.”
“For us, the Brisbane Entertainment Centre is a nice halfway point between the Coast and Brisbane. I consider it neutral territory, so I can’t wait. Last time we played at BEC was our grand final win, so it’s a really special place that has some great memories.”