WITH the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season beginning in just a couple of days, the Draft Central team has decided to count down five things we are looking forward to this season. Coming in at number one on the countdown is the highly anticipated grand final rematch between Sunshine Coast Lightning and NSW Swifts.
The NSW Swifts came out with a real fire in the belly in the grand final making light work of what was a dominant Lightning side, romping home a 17 goal win. Since then there have only been a couple of changes for both sides with Lightning coach Noeline Taurua departing and replacement player Katrina Rore no longer with the Swifts for the 2020 season making for an exciting battle when the two teams take the court this season.
After being riddled with injury throughout 2019 the NSW Swifts are set to welcome back captain Maddy Proud with the wing attack returning from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Proud is reliable through the midcourt able to slice through opposition defences with her impeccable timing and quick footwork to dart around her opponents and deliver the ball on a silver platter into the circle. Her return to the side will further bolster an already stacked midcourt with Natalie Haythornthwaite, Paige Hadley and Sophie Craig all dominant forces in their own right.
The Swifts controlled the grand final from start to finish and will be hoping to inflict more pain in their potential rematch and prove that it was not a one off given the strong record the Lightning have over them. Prior to the grand final Sunshine Coast had an impressive track record against the Swifts with the likes of Laura Langman leading the charge through the centre third stopping the Swifts in their tracks with her drive, quick hands and immense defensive pressure.
Swifts goalers Helen Housby, Sam Wallace and Sophie Garbin all got on top of their Lightning counterparts in the 2019 grand final with the trio displaying their accuracy to post and adaptability to rotate through the circle and have a profound influence. But the Lightning will be keen to make amends and definitely have star power to ensure a tight contest with Karla Pretorius leading the charge down back with her tenacity and read of the play to constantly inject herself into the action. Pretorius alongside Phumza Maweni are a commanding force in defence with the two working in tandem to force turnovers and create opportunities to push forward in attack. Down on their usual output in the grand final the duo will be keen to rectify their performance and come out raring to go, whenever it may be.
With a strong rivalry brewing between the two teams and no shortage of fire power for either side, the clash between the 2019 grand finalists will surely live up to the hype. There is no doubt that the Lightning will be eager to exact revenge on the Swifts and reclaim their status as the team to beat for 2020 given their two-time premiership status.