They are two of the National League’s newest clubs but already the Sunshine Coast Lightning and GIANTS Netball have built a hot-blooded rivalry that will add another chapter on Sunday at USC Stadium.
The two sides are fierce but respectful opponents who have been among the tournament benchmarks since Suncorp Super Netball’s foundation year in 2017 when they met in the Grand Final.
Since that historic premiership win, Lightning have faced the GIANTS nine times for seven victories and a draw, with the Giants’ last win coming in Round 1, 2018.
“There’s a great amount of respect between the teams.
“For some reason the level of preparation and excitement steps up against the GIANTS.”
The fourth-placed GIANTS will arrive in Queensland chasing a third consecutive victory while the Lightning also have posted back-to-back successes for the first time this season.
Both outfits have the lure of exiting Round 7 inside the top four.
“They’ve stepped up the same as us. Their last two games have been their most impressive of the season,” Byrne said.
“We’re both on the same page.”
Lightning were slow starters this season but their prospects have shifted thanks largely to a growing combination between defenders Tara Hinchliffe, Kate Walsh and Mahalia Cassidy.
Goal shooter Cara Koenen has also enjoyed a form surge that has coincided with the Lightning’s rise up the ladder.
The Diamonds squad member has added 93 goals at 94 per cent accuracy in the two recent wins against the Melbourne Vixens and NSW Swifts.
“She’s got belief in the work she did in the off-season,” Byrne said.
“She did a lot of work on being able to take balls in the air.
“That was feedback from us and the Diamonds that that was an area to work on, and she’s absolutely delivered.
“When that gets taken away, she’s got that movement as well. She’s now a goal shooter with lots of tools.”