By: Darren Snowdon

The Sunshine Coast Lightning have ended the Melbourne Vixens’ unbeaten start to the Super Netball season, pulling off a stunning 71-58 upset win at USC Stadium.

Lightning belied their lowly ladder position with an inspired performance against the league leaders on Saturday, Maddie Hinchcliffe and Laura Scherian outstanding in mid-court as the hosts recorded their second win of the campaign.

Having conceded the most goals through the opening four rounds, Sunshine Coast restricted Melbourne’s lethal attack to 13 goals in the second quarter and kept the momentum going after halftime as the visitors wilted under intense pressure from the Lightning.

“We’ve been waiting for a performance like that defensively for the first four games and I knew it was in them but it was just about building pressure,” coach Kylee Byrne told Fox Netball after the Lightning’s impressive home victory.

“We’ve had such a tough away schedule and I knew that this performance was in them and you know, what better way to do it than in front of our home crowd.”

A match-winning burst in the third quarter from the enigmatic Steph Wood put the result beyond doubt, the Diamonds goal attack drilling all four super shot attempts and providing seven goal assists as the Lightning outscored Melbourne 24-14.

“We haven’t had the best start to the season and we haven’t been happy about it; I think it just shows we can play netball,” Wood said after playing her part in the boilover result.

“That’s the performance we know we can do and when you put that out against a really quality side against Vixens, yeah there’s going to be some belief in this team.”

The visitors led 18-16 after the first quarter but the Lightning turned up the heat in the second period to force Melbourne into a series of uncharacteristic errors, including nine turnovers for the half, to hit the front by two at halftime.

Coach Simone McKinnis made a series of line-up changes throughout the second half in the search for a winning combination, introducing second-year mid-courter Hannah Mundy to work alongside club stalwarts Kate Moloney and Liz Watson.

But the Vixens could not slow the Lightning as the match slipped beyond their reach with ill-discipline (81 total penalties) and an inability to maintain possession taking their toll.

The Vixens return to Melbourne for a stretch of three consecutive home games, starting with the Adelaide Thunderbirds next Saturday, while the Lightning face a tough clash against reigning champions NSW Swifts in Sydney.

Tickets are on sale now for the Lightning v GIANTS match at USC Stadium on Sunday 1 May 2022, from 2pm

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