GIANTS NETBALL HAVE STRENGTHENED THEIR GRIP ON THE COMPETITION LEAD AFTER A STIRRING COME FROM BEHIND WIN AGAINST AN IMPRESSIVE SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING AT USC STADIUM.
Shooter Kristina Brice landed the match winner with less than a minute remaining to hold off the Lightning 55-54 in a thriller.
It was a contest befitting two heavyweight contenders for the inaugural Suncorp Super Netball crown, with both outfits looking a step ahead of the remaining six clubs.
Giants, however, remain the only unbeaten side after four eventful rounds.
Their coach Julie Fitzgerald showed courage to swing Brice into the game, with the tall goaler hitting 17 valuable second half goals.
Sunshine Coast’s Caitlin Bassett had 45 goals from 47 shots but could not steer her side home.
Another big second half contributor was Giants skipper Kimberlee Green who had a hand in everything to turn momentum against the home side.
The big question for the Lightning was how goal attack Stephanie Wood would handle her first outing for the club in her comeback from a knee injury.
Wood faced one of the toughest defenders in the competition, Rebecca Bulley, but looked comfortable on the circle edge, sinking her first three shots, including one from long range.
High quality shooting was a factor for both camps, with the Lightning’s Caitlin Bassett and Giants’ Jo Harten on target early.
The Lightning, through midcourters Laura Langman and Kelsey Browne, had a firmer grip on the game as they led 17-13 at the first change.
While Langman and Browne ran the show in the middle, the Lightning’s defence won them enough ball to stay on top.
The home side led by four at halftime, a margin that was made possible by the suffocating pressure from their back three, Geva Mentor, Erena Mikaere and Karla Mostert.
Both sides flicked the switch on a series of changes at halftime but it was the introduction of Giants shooter Kristina Brice that swung momentum.
With Harten cheering from the bench, feeder Green relished having a stronger and taller post presence and it took less than five minutes of the third quarter for the Giants to grab the lead.
Sunshine Coast was not the same side with Wood rested in the third quarter, and they began the deciding term trailing 41-40.
So influential was Green that Sunshine Coast had to move Langman into wing defence, a strategy that only dulled the edge from their attack.
Photography: Getty Images
photo Getty Images
photo Anton Vos