Memorable Matches: Lightning win inaugural 2017 Suncorp Super Netball premiership

WITH netball taking a back seat to coronavirus in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look at memorable matches in world netball history. Next up is Sunshine Coast Lightning’s maiden premiership over GIANTS Netball in 2017.

The inaugural season of Suncorp Super Netball in 2017 was filled with highs and lows, with the ultimate high of expansion side Sunshine Coast Lightning winning the premiership in their first year together. The side boasted key names and combinations across the court which pushed them over the line, leaving the GIANTS in the lurch, 65-48. This was a memorable match for many, with the star-studded Lightning ruthless in their quest against the GIANTS exposing every flaw in their game plan and dominating across the board. The top two teams met twice prior to their grand final battle with both finishing in dramatic fashion – both collecting a one goal win apiece, but this time around the Lightning were relentless in their approach against a GIANTS outfit that had been smashed by injury throughout the season.

GIANTS may have won the first quarter, but it was Lightning that came out from then on and dominated the contest, relentless in their approach in the second quarter and taking an unprecedented five goal lead  into half time. Lightning relegated the GIANTS to less goals every quarter as the home side gained more and more confidence, rendering GIANTS unable to play their game and eventuating in the 17 goal victory.

The GIANTS were left wondering how it went so wrong. Geva Mentor had a starring role down back pairing with Karla Pretorius for one of their best outings for the season for the Lightning, constantly on top of Jo Harten and Kristina Brice. In the absence of Kim Green who was forced to the sidelines with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in Round 5, goaler Susan Pettitt took the wing attack bib and faced off against champion Laura Langman – who played her usual game, running laps around her opposition and finding plenty of turnover ball with four intercepts and a deflection to her name. While Pettitt did her job well, racking up 18 goal assists, it was the absence of midcourt backup that was exposed once she rotated into the circle that saw the Lightning well and truly take control, with Sarah Wall only managing the one assist in her 21 minutes on court while the Lightning seemed impenetrable.

While the defensive partnership of Bec Bulley and Sam Poolman was solid as ever, the duo was completely at the mercy of Caitlin Bassett and Steph Wood in the circle, who had the ball on a string thanks to speedster Kelsey Browne in wing attack, who took advantage of Jamie-Lee Price’s messiness in wing defence. Price impressed with one intercept and seven deflections – but only gathered gains off two – but it was her 15 penalties that allowed Browne to take full control. Bassett and Wood proved once again why they were one of the most threatening pairings in the circle with their ball use and sharing of the space throwing the GIANTS off at every turn. Lightning’s goalers were vastly more accurate than their GIANTS counterparts, combining for 91 per cent compared to the GIANTS’ 79 per cent, credit to the respective feeders. Brice was unable to compete with Mentor at the post, with Mentor collecting eight gains while Brice turned over the netball eight times and Harten five times. 

While Lightning revelled in the atmosphere, with the home court advantage certainly boosting their confidence, the GIANTS floundered and were unable to bring the same excitement and speed to their game play. While Serena Guthrie was doing a good job defensively to open up opportunities to get forward, it was a lack of offensive pressure that allowed the likes of Laura Scherian and Langman to get on top of the GIANTS while messiness across the court allowed Lightning to take full advantage of errors and penalties – with GIANTS collecting 20 more penalties overall.

A shared effort at the post between the GIANTS goalers was not enough, with the Lightning just far too good on the day for their counterparts and the Lightning going on to win their inaugural premiership by 17 goals.

LIGHTNING 13 | 19 | 16 | 17 (65)
GIANTS 15 | 12 | 11 | 10 (48)

STARTING SEVEN

Sunshine Coast Lightning

GS: Caitlin Bassett
GA: Steph Wood
WA: Kelsey Browne
C: Laura Scherian
WD: Laura Langman
GD: Karla Pretorius
GK: Geva Mentor

BENCH: Erena Mikaere, Maddy McAuliffe, Cara Koenen
COACH: Noeline Taurua

GIANTS Netball

GS: Krissie Brice
GA: Jo Harten
WA: Susan Pettitt
C: Serena Guthrie
WD: Jamie-Lee Price
GD: Bec Bulley
GK: Sam Poolman

BENCH: Sarah Wall, Toni Anderson, Taylah Davies
COACH: Julie Fitzgerald

SHOOTING STATS

Lightning:

Caitlin Bassett 49/51
Steph Wood 16/20

GIANTS:

Kristina Brice 24/29
Jo Harten 20/25
Susan Pettitt 4/7

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