Queensland teams line up in Sunshine shootout

State pride is on the line with Sunshine Coast Lightning and Queensland Firebirds going head-to-head this weekend in a Queensland derby at USC Stadium.

Lightning player Caitlin Bassett said Lightning would be working hard to prevent Firebirds from surging ahead on the scoreboard.

“In this competition you can’t let the opposition get too much of a lead. Firebirds have obviously got massive scoring power in their attacking end so Geva (Mentor) and Karla (Pretorius) have really got their job cut out for them this week,” Bassett said.

“We know we have to put four good quarters of netball together if we’re going to win and getting some bonus points along the way is obviously going to help us.

“I can’t wait to get out there. Our crowd has been amazing this year and it’s going to be important to have that home crowd behind us.”

Bassett said she looked forward to taking on Firebirds defender Laura Geitz.

“She’s had an amazing season so far and been that rock in defence for the Firebirds so I’m looking to be tightly marked.

“I think you always play the best when you’re being challenged and it takes your game to another level.

“The combination between myself and Stephanie Wood has been growing over the season and it’s going to take that connection to withstand Laura’s defence.”

Lightning Head Coach Noeline Taurua said the team was shaping up well leading into Round 9.

“Our week so far has been great and there are a lot of positives that have come out of the season to date. Every time we’re taking the court we are progressing,” Taurua said.

“At the moment, the table is so congested and there aren’t many points between the top and where we’re currently sitting.

“As a team we can’t rest on our laurels; we have to work very hard to make the top four.

“The changes we made on court last week proved to be of value for us. I thought it created uncertainty in the opposition and provided us with something different on court.

“I’m really happy with how everybody is fronting from game to game and am looking forward to seeing what we can do this week.”

Athletes will perform under the watchful eye of Lisa Alexander on game day, with the Australian Diamonds Coach having flown to Queensland to visit both Lightning and Firebirds headquarters.

“It’s vitally important to our Australian Diamonds program that the national coach visits each of our Suncorp Super Netball Clubs,” Alexander said.

“I get to have a look at the next wave of Diamonds – those players that are in the emerging group.

“In this group we’re obviously keeping an eye on Kelsey Browne and Laura Scherian, but I also think Maddy McAuliffe has stepped up this year. Last week’s performance where she went into the centre was terrific.”

Alexander said she anticipated the stadium atmosphere would be electric when Lightning and Firebirds face off on Sunday.

“I just love my netball when it’s like this; it’s world class. It’s just getting better and better and more intense.

“I’m really interested to see the players playing live. It’s important for particularly us as national selectors – myself, Anne Sargeant and Michelle Wilkins – not just to watch the TV replays but also to watch the games live; to feel the intensity and the pressure that the athletes are under and also the whole environment and how they react.”

Lightning and Firebirds will battle for supremacy at USC Stadium at 1pm on Sunday, 1 July. The sold-out match will be broadcast live on the Nine Network and the Netball Live App.

Sunshine Coast Lightning 2018 memberships are available at sunshinecoastlightning.com.au.