SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING’S REVIVAL CONTINUES, WITH THE DEFENDING CHAMPIONS CLAIMING THEIR THIRD CONSECUTIVE SUNCORP SUPER NETBALL WIN IN A TENSE 64-56 VICTORY AGAINST MELBOURNE VIXENS.
After losing their first three games of the season, the Lightning are now firmly back in the mix for a place in the finals, after wrestling with Vixens for two quarters in today’s game before breaking free in the second half.
Samsung Diamonds’ Caitlin Bassett (51/53) was huge for Lightning on the day, but the win was built on important defensive work and goal defense Karla Pretorius was named Nissan MVP.
Both sides came into this fixture desperate for a win, with a potential place in the Rebel Sport ladder’s top four on the line for the victor.
Vixens were bolstered again by the return of defender Renae Ingles, who started this match after coming off the bench in her comeback to the sport last week.
Lightning edged ahead midway through the first quarter, as their defensive pressure made Vixens’ goals hard to come by – while the home team’s shooter, Bassett, made hay at the offensive end.
That turned around quickly, and Vixens stole the lead with Liz Watson finding goal shooter Mwai Kumwenda consistently in the goal circle. In the end, it was the Melbourne team who claimed the first quarter bonus point, taking a 17-15 lead into the first break.
Lightning were struggling with possession early in the second quarter, controlling just 44 per cent of the ball – so the fightback had to come through the midcourt and goal attack Steph Wood chimed in to assist with an early deflection.
It was a contest on a knife’s edge and midway through the quarter Lightning forced a turnover that allowed Bassett to retake the lead at 23-22.
Nothing could separate the two at halftime with the scores locked at 30-30, but Sunshine Coast Lightning did claim the bonus point for the second quarter after finding their defensive rhythm.
It was a ripping battle between both sides, with the big guns firing.
Tegan Philip was delivering the ball upcourt with skill and guile, while Kumwenda’s aerial work and splits resulted in plenty of goals, which helped the Vixens again build a lead.
Bassett was close to unstoppable under the hoop and finished the third quarter with 37/39, while Lightning claimed a 48-43 lead and their second bonus point of the match.
In a bid to arrest the slide, Vixens coach Simone McKinnis swapped Kumwenda and Phillip while Kadie-Ann Dehaney replaced Emily Mannix at goalkeeper late in the third quarter.
But Lightning leapt out of the blocks in the final term to lay the platform for a lead that would not be challenged.
Q1: Lightning 15 v Vixens 17
Q2: Lightning 15 v Vixens 13
Q3: Lightning 18 v Vixens 13
Q4: Lightning 16 v Vixens 13
Suncorp Super Netball premiership points
Lightning shooting statistics
Caitlin Bassett 51/53
Steph Wood 13/17
Vixens shooting statistics
Mwai Kumwenda 31/33
Tegan Philip 22/28
Samantha Gooden 3/4
Lightning starting seven
GS: Caitlin Bassett, GA: Steph Wood, WA: Kelsey Browne, C: Laura Scherian, WD: Madeline McAuliffe, GD: Karla Pretorius, GK: Geva Mentor
Vixens starting seven
GS: Mwai Kumwenda, GA: Tegan Philip, WA: Liz Watson, C: Kate Moloney, WD: Renae Ingles, GD: Jo Weston, GK: Emily Mannix
Nissan MVP: Karla Pretorius
photo Getty Images
Photo: Rémy Gros