Tough battle for Grand Final rematch
Damien Stannard via Suncorp Super Netball
It won’t erase the pain of a Grand Final loss, but GIANTS netball have found some redemption in their 54 – 51 win over the Sunshine Coast Lightning in their rematch of their 2017 Suncorp Super Netball decider.
It was an arm-wrestle for three quarters, until the Giants streaked clear to an eight goal advantage in the final term, holding off a Lightning comeback notch up an important first-up win at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney to start their campaign.
Goal defender Bec Bulley was named Nissan Player of the Match and was elated to get the season underway with a win over their grand final tormentors from 2017.
“I was actually quite nervous coming into this game,” she said.
“Obviously it was the grand final rematch, there are over 10,000 here to watch us, I think that is really great – I am really happy with that win.”
The Giants were paced by English Rose Joanne Harten (33/36) and Australian Diamond Susan Pettitt (21/28) – with starters Kim Green, Serena Guthrie, Jamie-Lee Price, Bec Bulley and Sam Poolman all starting alongside them.
The Lightning took to the court with Commonwealth Games stars Caitlin Bassett and Steph Wood along with Kelsey Browne, Laura Scherian, Madeline McAuliffe, Karla Pretorius and Geva Mentor.
These two expansion clubs stunned the league in 2017, knocking out the Victorian clubs to book a mouth-watering grand final match up – a decider that Sunshine Coast won in June last year.
The Giants were bolstered by the return of Green, who suffered a knee injury at the beginning of the 2017 season and required a full reconstruction.
It was a strong start from the home side, who muscled up in defence to force turnovers – including a rare miss from Bassett – to open up a 2-0 lead.
Goal attack Pettitt brought her Commonwealth Games form into the Suncorp Super Netball season, combining well with English star Harten to help the Giants out to a 9-4 lead.
The Lightning shook off some early nerves to close to within one goal, but it was the Giants who took the first bonus point of the match with a 15-12 lead at the first break.
The see-saw nature of the contest continued, with the Giants moving out to several three and four goal leads, only for the Lightning to reel them back in – the scores locked at 21-21 halfway through the quarter.
The Lightning won the quarter 13-12 to take a valuable bonus point, but it was the Giants who led 27-25 at halftime.
Goals were at a premium and no side could take an advantage in the third quarter, as high-octane defensive pressure kept the contest tight.
The Giants were the ones to break the deadlock, opening up a five goal lead – their biggest of the match – and heading into the final quarter leading 42-38. Their lead pushed out to as much as eight, holding on to secure their first win of the season.
The Lightning will play the Queensland Firebirds at 1pm local time, May 6 at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.