Speed helps Lightning to inaugural title win
IT is apt that Sunshine Coast Netball is called Lightning as it was quick passing and speed across the court that helped them become the inaugural Super Netball champions, thumping Giants 65-48.
The two sides traded blows for the first half, but Lightning started to find their rhythm by the second quarter and turned a two-goal deficit at the first break to a five-goal lead by half-time. From there the blitz started, Lightning extending their lead to 10 by three-quarter time and 17 at final whistle and to be crowned champions.
Giants captain Jo Harten said there wasn't one moment when she felt the game turned against her side, but a poor second quarter made it too hard to come back against a quality side.
"I don't think it was a particular moment,” she said.
"They had a really good defensive game against us tonight but it was probably a combination of the build up of moments of pressure situations in that second quarter and once they grasped that lead it was too hard to try to get it back.
"We did a few patches of really brilliant play but it was just too difficult a task.”
Positional changes by Giants in the third quarter that saw them turn to more experience in the circle with Susan Pettitt coming in to shooter and Sarah Wall at wing attack couldn't halt the surge of Lightning and by the last 15 Giants had switched back to their starting seven.
But nothing could stop the Lightning storm.
The full court strengths of Lightning proved too much for Giants, their defence tightening as the game wore on, which opened their attack at the other end and left 8,899 elated Queensland fans.
Keeper Sam Poolman did a commendable job on Lightning sharpshooter Caitlin Bassett, who had 48 goals for an incredible 96% accuracy, while Lightning's international defensive duo of Geva Mentor and Karla Mostert, who was named player of the match, were outstanding, blocking the feed to the Giants' big target of Kristina Brice and finishing the game with 10 turnovers between them.
Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald said she felt her team had the momentum coming into the grand final and hadn't been affected by playing an extra match to what the Lightning had to.
With the bulk of the side likely to stay together for 2018, Fitzgerald said the grand final loss would set them up for a big future.
"We will have learnt a lot from our game tonight,” Fitzgerald said.
"That old saying, you've got to play one to win one, I think will be true in this case, I think we will have learnt a lot from tonight's game.”
Giants started in the best possible way and did everything they had planned to in the first five minutes, taking advantage of any turnover and turning it into points.
But Lightning didn't take long to kick into gear though and went on a four-goal run to stay in touch and be just two behind, 15-13 at first quarter break.
Perhaps grand final nerves were at play throughout the opening 15 minutes as both teams were guilty of giving easy turnover ball, but Lightning regathered for the start of the second period and opened the quarter with a five-goal scoring run to take the lead for the first time a couple of minutes in.
They'd extended that to five, six minutes later as the defence really went to work and the blitz from continued from there as Sunshine Coast blew out to a 17-goal victory for the 2017 Super Netball Championship.
Lightning coach Noeline Taurua was ecstatic about the win, but moreso that her team could do it by so much courtesy of their resolute defence.
"It's amazing,” she said. "One is to win and be premiers but also the scoreline.
"Fantastic work from the defence end. They put a lot of pressure on and forced the changes.”