Tag: Sunshine Coast Lightning

Lightning survive dominant Collingwood first half flourish

SUNSHINE Coast Lightning were eager to make it two from two in the Suncorp Super Netball competition, exposing the Magpies in the third quarter with their ball speed and defensive pressure to steal a four-goal win (51-47). With new faces across the court, the Magpies stunned the Lightning in the opening half with their accuracy to post and drive in the attacking third but the Lightning showcased their experience to work their way into the match and hold strong despite a final term push.

With Steph Wood a late out from the starting seven, the Lightning front line took a while to adjust with Cara Koenen and Peace Proscovia struggling to find their mojo thanks to the immense defensive pressure from the Pies. Proscovia had the yips early, missing a couple of consecutive goals giving the Magpies a chance to settle into the game. Madi Browne had an immediate impact for the black and white with the wing attack delivering an impressive overhead long bomb into returning goaler Shimona Nelson under the post. Nelson did not seem to skip a beat from the first whistle with the goal shooter commanding the ball under the post and doing the heavy lifting to open up a strong lead for the Pies.

Collingwood continued to press with newcomer Jodi-Ann Ward asserting herself on the game with an early intercept shutting down the space in the defensive goal circle to make life hard for the Lightning goalers. Magpies showcased their confidence and speed to capitalise on the Lightning’s missed opportunities skipping out to a five goal lead with a tick under 10 minutes left in the quarter. But the class of the Lightning was not to be underestimated with the home team rallying in the backend of the quarter. A couple of missed opportunities from both sides saw the ball bubble up and down the court before the Lightning wrestled back momentum. With the super shot in play goals went astray with both sides unable to sink them from long range instead it was Nelson that steadied the ship under the post for the Pies to reclaim the lead albeit by one goal at quarter time.

Lightning levelled the scores in the first minute of the quarter but Collingwood were determined to keep their lead with Nelson delivering at the post moments later. A Geva Mentor inspired intercept gifted the Pies another chance to score to stretch the lead to a couple of goals while the introduction of Matilda Garrett paid dividends with the goal defence having an immediate impact with a strong rebound and drive down the court. The connection between Madi and Kelsey Browne impressed with the two rotating through the space with great ease and delivering with precision into the Nelson under the post.

Struggling to have their usual impact in the goal circle the Lightning looked to the bench with Binnian Hunt making her debut in goal attack. The shooter showcased her classy footwork and nice touch to set up plays while Ward re-entered the game for the Pies in wing defence. A couple of offensive penalties from the goalers allowed the ball to swing up and down the court again but the Pies seemed to maintain control throughout the game.

Gabby Sinclair impressed with her play making abilities out the front and drive into the goal circle but the Lightning were not about to give up gaining some momentum in attack with Laura Scherian hitting circle edge and delivering high ball into Koenen. Karla Pretorius came into her own in the final minutes of the term winning back ball thanks to her impressive ball tracking abilities and sticky hands. But the biggest shock of all came when Wood entered the game and while she did not sink the super shot provided a pep in her teammates step to reduce the deficit to three goals.

It was goal for goal in the first couple of minutes of the second half with both sides scoring off their centre pass. The Magpies attack end kicked into gear with Molly Jovic driving hard into the pocket and going toe to toe with Laura Langman before Sunshine Coast upped the ante to eat into the three-goal margin. They threw everything they had at the Magpies in both attack and defence with Phumza Maweni covering Nelson at the post. The momentum steadily shifted with the Lightning drawing level thanks to Wood and Langman driving the attacking unit and creating a wealth of space in the goal circle.

Kelly Altmann was key for the Pies with the centre taking a well-read intercept and proving that she is not afraid to throw her body on the line, contesting every ball that came her way. But it was not enough to nullify the Lightning who were cooking with gas opening up a strong lead. Sunshine Coast were patient in attack playing the ball around the circle edge to reverse the half time deficit and establish a three goal buffer themselves.

The experience of the Lightning came into play in the final term, as Maweni reading the play like a book while their end to end transition stunned the Magpies who were simply unable to stop their drive through court. With the game getting away from them young goaler Nyah Allen took the game on nailing four goals straight to keep Collingwood in touch. The intensity went up a notch as the quarter ticked down with both sides applying a wealth of pressure down the court but in the end the momentum was with the Lightning as they secured their second win.

In her first game for the season Nelson displayed her scoring prowess nailing 32 goals from 37 attempts while goal attack Sinclair also plied her trade with six goals but down on her accuracy. Koenen was strong once again under the post for the Lightning with the young goaler converting 38 goals from 45 attempts at 84 per cent. The output from Proscovia was minimal with six goals while Wood was not overly accurate shooting at 50 per cent while on court. The work from Madi Browne in the attacking third did not go unnoticed amassing 10 goal assists while for the Lightning it was the defensive pressure of Maweni that shone true as the goal defence picked up six gains and seven deflections.




Sunshine Coast Lightning 10 | 11 | 16 | 14 (51)
Collingwood Magpies 11 | 13 | 9 | 14 (47) 


Sunshine Coast Lightning:

GS: Cara Koenen
GA: Steph Wood
WA: Laura Scherian
C: Laura Langman
WD: Maddy McAuliffe
GD: Karla Pretorius
GK: Phumza Maweni

Collingwood Magpies:

GS: Shimona Nelson
GA: Gabby Sinclair
WA: Madi Browne
C: Molly Jovic
WD: Melissa Bragg
GD: Jodi-Ann Ward
GK: Geva Mentor

Final quarter blitz gifts Sunshine Coast Lightning first win of the season

GRAND finalists Sunshine Coast Lightning proved they are a threat to be reckoned with surviving an early scare from the Queensland Firebirds to win comfortably (66-48). It was a slow start for the Lightning who struggled both in attack and defence to get going while the Firebirds burst out of the blocks to stamp their ascendancy on the match. But the Lightning were not about to go down without a fight pulling together a phenomenal final term.

The Firebirds put their disappointing 2019 season to bed early, coming out with a real ferocity and intensity that was simply unmatched by the Lightning in the first 15 minutes. Captain Gabi Simpson set the tone in the opening stanza with her pressure over the ball forcing a held ball and a subsequent goal. Converting off the Lightning’s centre pass the Firebirds made it two in a row with Romelda Aiken and newcomer Tippah Dwan finding their feet instantly and hitting the scoreboard. The defensive pressure for the Firebirds was immense as the Lightning struggled to penetrate through the midcourt before Cara Koenen eventually sunk the opener for the Lightning. As the ball pinged around goal defence Karla Pretorius injected herself into the contest with a clever intercept to draw level with the Firebirds at two goals apiece.

Determined to keep their momentum rolling the Firebirds upped the ante through the midcourt with Lara Dunkley threading the needle into Aiken and Dwan. In her first outing for the club the wing attacked seemed to have the ball on a string, able to hit the circle edge with great precision. With the attack unit humming the Firebirds pushed out to a six goal lead before Ine-Mari Venter made her way onto the court for the final five minutes of the quarter. With the super shot now in play it was Dwan that made history sinking the first of the competition. Her hot hand led the way for the Firebirds in attack while Simpson continued her merry way picking of passes at every opportunity. The Firebirds were simply carving up the court using their pace and unpredictable nature to keep the Lightning guessing and go on a tear to open up an eight goal lead at quarter time.

Struggling to find any form of rhythm up their attacking end, the Lightning threw the bibs around with Peace Proscovia coming on in goal shooter pushing Koenen into goal attack and Steph Wood into wing attack. But that did not seem to bother the Firebirds with the girls in purple seeming to have the ball on a string. The defensive pressure coming from Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe was exceptional with the two forcing the Lightning goalers off balance and forcing turnovers aplenty with their read of the play and deceptively long arms. Hinchliffe was incredibly strong under the post, positioning well to collect rebounds while Jenner run amuck out the front.

Firebirds wing attack, Macy Gardner showcased her skill with ball in hand, driving into the pocket time and time again, while Dwan was having a field day out in goal attack for the Firebirds with her impressive timing and circle rotation with Aiken. Building in each facet of the game the Firebirds established a nine goal lead and did not look like slowing down until the Lightning rallied scoring three goals in a row. But the Firebirds answered the call once more as Aiken pulled out the party tricks with a unique layup style shot. Mia Stower made her way onto the court but it was her rival goal attack that got all the accolades with Wood proving to be the super shot star nailing five in a row, ultimately cutting the 10 goal deficit to a mere two at the break.

Drawing on their momentum from the second quarter, the Lightning got an early win before the Firebirds quickly answered streaming down court. They showed a good balance of speed and patience in attack with Mahalia Cassidy controlling the tempo and waiting for the options to appear rather than force them. Jenner kicked it up a gear after Wood showcased her class and range in the final minutes of the term with the defender getting hands to everything that came her way. The Firebirds suffocated the Lightning in attack and forced a wealth of missed opportunities with Sunshine Coast remaining goalless for the first five minutes of the term. Simpson continued to deliver for her side not only in defence but so too in attack with her drive through the midcourt and constantly hitting the transverse line with speed and intent.

The Firebirds made the Lightning work for every single pass as they dominated through the midcourt with their youth and speed. As the quarter went on the Lightning started to generate some better ball movement and force turnovers and hesitation in the Firebirds minds. Wood continued to do a wealth of damage from two point range, really rallying in the final five minutes to cull the margin and draw level for the first time since the opening quarter.

With the game on the line, it was the experience and class of the Lightning that shone true with Laura Langman and Laura Scherian taking the game by the scruff of the neck and taking full control in attack. Despite going goal for goal in the first couple of minutes Sunshine Coast put the foot down nullifying the Firebirds defence and forcing Jenner and Hinchliffe to swap bibs. But the Lightning kept coming exploiting the Firebirds youth with their precise ball movement, netball smarts and cleanliness with ball in hand. The momentum completely shifted despite the best efforts of the Firebirds as the Lightning capitalised on each and every turnover to run out 18-goal victors.

Aiken was the hot hand for the Firebirds sinking 26 goals from 33 attempts while Dwan showcased her skillset and excitement with 11 goals from 17 attempts, along with three goals from super shot range. Venter also proved to be a solid option to post with two goals from two point range. However it was Wood that stunned many with her accuracy to post sinking a whopping 10 goals from 11 attempts in the super shot zone, while Koenen did the heavy lifting with 34 goals from 40 attempts. Defensively Jenner had a stats-stuffing performance with five gains, two intercepts and three deflections, while Maweni and Pretorius combined for 10 gains, six intercepts and nine deflections.




QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS 18 | 12 | 12 | 6 (48)
SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 10 | 18 | 14 | 24 (66)


Queensland Firebirds:

GS: Romelda Aiken
GA: Tippah Dwan
WA: Lara Dunkley
C: Mahalia Cassidy
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: Kim Jenner
GK: Tara Hinchliffe

Sunshine Coast Lightning:

GS: Cara Koenen
GA: Steph Wood
WA: Laura Scherian
C: Laura Langman
WD: Maddy McAuliffe
GD: Karla Pretorius
GK: Phumza Maweni

Draft Central’s free 2020 Suncorp Super Netball magazine

We are excited to announce our second Suncorp Super Netball magazine just in time for the season to begin. Faced with unprecedented times, Draft Central has worked hard to construct a magazine for netball lovers across the globe focusing on the 2020 SSN season and briefly recapping the 2019 action.

The magazine includes individual player profiles in each team as well as a list of training partners to ensure you can stay up to date with all the SSN news. You can find player features from Melbourne Vixens youngster Elle McDonald and Collingwood Magpies replacement player Molly Jovic inside, as well as the Draft Central team’s predictions for the season ahead.

If you are interested in being notified on further magazines please sign up below and don’t forget to join our Netball Draft Central group to join in the conversation.

If you are passionate about netball or multiple sports and wish to receive monthly EDMS of our most popular content, or even just when the next magazine drops, fill out the form below.

SSN 2020 update: Rule adjustments

WITH Round 1 of the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season just around the corner, some last minute rule adjustments have been made to the season to ensure player safety and wellbeing due to the condensed season. Committed to a full 60 game season over a shorter time frame with midweek games in the mix, the SSN is taking a cautious approach to protect the players and ensure player management.

The introduction of extra time was supposed to come into play this season as a result of a number of draws last season. However that rule has been scrapped for the 2020 season to accommodate for the heavier workload players will be faced with in the upcoming season. While it might not seem like a huge difference having to play an extra couple of minutes on top of their already top heavy schedule could have a major influence on player recovery.

“I think the ones (rules) that came out today don’t affect us too much from an on court perspective and planning for those games you know, as athletes and competitors, you want to get a result but I think the league has put it in, and it is a sensible decision, because we are going to be backing it up and playing a couple of games a week,” Melbourne Vixens co-captain, Kate Moloney told media on Tuesday.

The bonus point, while controversial when it was first brought in, has become a key part of the SSN competition but will not take effect this season in order to focus on player management. In the past many teams have kept their starting seven players on the court in hope to secure that elusive bonus point and give them a boost on the ladder. With the incentive not in place for the 2020 season it will hopefully encourage teams to rotate players instead of pushing players to win a bonus point in the dying seconds of the quarter.

Another key change ahead of the season is the introduction of extended benches meaning clubs can bring a full 10 member squad plus two additional players whether they be training partners or players outside of that scope as long as they fulfil the appropriate requirements. This rule change will allow teams to have more flexibility with players on court and seamlessly rotate when they see fit to guarantee each player can receive a sufficient amount of rest time. Furthermore the extra players can alternate from game to game depending on team needs giving the teams more flexibility.

“I think that’s going to be huge,” fellow co-captain, Liz Watson said. “We’re playing two games most weeks. So I think it’s a smart decision by the league to do this, and actually, it’s very sensible. It actually is giving players the opportunity to run off if they are feeling niggles or whatever it may be, and not actually pushing just that seven or 10 each game.”

The inclusion of two extra bench players allows young up and coming players to ply their trade at the elite level and gain some valuable minutes on court. With the Australian Netball League (ANL) not taking place this season, the opportunity could give some of the domestic league players a chance to step out on court and mix it with the best in the business which could be a huge positive in the long run.


SSN 2020: First six rounds of fixture revealed

FRIDAY morning saw the long awaited release of the first six rounds of the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball fixture, with the season beginning in just over a week on August 1. Rather than one round per week, the addition of mid-week matches will see these first six rounds play out across just 23 days.

While an announcement during the week stated that the entire season is expected to be played in Queensland, the first phase of fixturing will see NSW Swifts and GIANTS Netball remain in Sydney for the first three rounds with both West Coast Fever and Adelaide Thunderbirds joining the two New South Wales-based sides there. 

This round robin-style of fixturing will see the Queensland hub look much the same, with the first couple of rounds featuring the Queensland-based sides – Queensland Firebirds, Sunshine Coast Lightning, Melbourne Vixens and Collingwood Magpies – competing against each other.

The season will open on Saturday, August 1 with a Queensland derby between Firebirds and Lightning, seeing the GIANTS and Fever go head-to-head next, followed by Swifts versus Thunderbirds and finishing with a Melbourne derby between Vixens and Magpies, with the two teams’ last clash a huge semi-final last season.

The fixture also sees a couple of major changes, with weekday scheduling in the mix for the first time, seeing a couple of rounds with Tuesday and Wednesday evening matches. Fans will not have to wait long, with the first Wednesday fixture taking place only three days after Round 1 finishes, with a Sydney derby between Swifts and GIANTS on August 5.

Also up there in terms of quality clashes, fans will look forward to a Round 4 grand final rematch between Lightning and Swifts, while as of yet a fixture for the highly contested Sargeant-McKinnis Trophy will have to wait, with the Swifts and Vixens not playing one another in the first six rounds.

The statement also suggests there is potential for matches to play out in Perth and Adelaide later in the season, pending border restrictions. 

The next phase of fixturing is expected to drop in mid-August.



Team previews:

Adelaide Thunderbirds

Collingwood Magpies

GIANTS Netball

Melbourne Vixens

NSW Swifts

Queensland Firebirds

Sunshine Coast Lightning

West Coast Fever

Queensland hubs – could we see midweek practice matches?

WITH the announcement of a Queensland hub for the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season, the question must be asked about how teams will work up matchplay experience for regularly benched players without the Australian Netball League (ANL) feeder going ahead as per usual.

With all eight teams expected to share training facilities in Queensland for the remainder of the season to ensure a high performance and elite environment, there is still a question of where some teams will be based with both Melbourne Vixens and Collingwood Magpies reportedly joining the Queensland Firebirds in Brisbane but no word as yet confirming the other four interstate teams.

With staggered use of facilities and multiple training courts available the three teams will be able to continue with COVID-19 protocols, with the two Victorian teams able to access training facilities despite being in isolation from the Firebirds until their two-week grace period is complete.

With confirmation that the Vixens and Magpies will go head-to-head in a couple of preseason matches prior to the season start on August 1, the next question is whether teams training at the same venues could use the facilities to host further practice matches throughout the season to gain valuable court-time away from the league, as posed by the Centre Pass Podcast during the week.

While teams will likely be based across numerous locations – most likely Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast given the two Queensland teams are based there – it would be a huge benefit for the teams if they had the opportunity to regularly test out player connections against opposition teams.

For teams with younger or less experienced players on their lists such as the Firebirds and Magpies, the addition of a mimicked gameday during the week for training partners and extended bench from the SSN squad could really aid in further developing the upcoming talent and give a real opportunity to prove their potential.

A long awaited fixture announcement is expected by the end of this week, so stay tuned on our socials for the latest updates!

Twitter / Facebook / Instagram

Netball Draft Central: Volunteer writing opportunities

WITH Suncorp Super Netball around the corner the team at Netball Draft Central are looking for fresh faces to join the team. Already covering the ANZ Premiership this season, we are hoping to find volunteer writers who are interested in both competitions and have a passion for all things netball. 

In the past we have covered other leagues such as the Vitality Netball Superleague along with a host of Australian competitions such as the Australian Netball League (ANL), Victorian Netball League (VNL) and M-League, but have not been able to do so this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This diverse coverage of netball allows Draft Central to have a point of difference from many other netball news outlets catering specifically to netball fans across the globe. 

We are looking for minimum second year media/journalism students that have an interest in sport, particularly netball and are wanting to gain valuable experience with a dedicated team of writers. 

Writing skills, dedication, flexibility, and effective communication are all crucial characteristics to be a part of the Draft Central team. While writing experience is preferable it is not a necessity for this role.

If you are interested, please email Sophie Taylor at sophie.t@rookieme.com

Suncorp Super Netball returns to court on August 1

AUSTRALIA’S top netball competition returns August 1.

In a massive announcement by the Suncorp Super Netball today, fans of the world’s top ranked league will have to wait just two months until they see their favourite stars out on court again. The other two major leagues in the world – the ANZ Premiership and Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) – had both made decisions on their returns in the past two weeks. While the VNSL opted to cancel the season citing concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic, the ANZ Premiership will return on Friday, June 19.

The 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season will be a full 60-game season – which means 14 rounds where teams face off against the other seven teams twice – as well as the four-game finals series for the top four sides. The fixture is yet to be announced, but the timing of the announcement today – May 31 – is for clubs to train together from tomorrow – June 1 – whilst sticking to social distancing guidelines.

Suncorp Super Netball CEO Chris Symington said in the release on the Suncorp Super Netball website that the season start represents a significant step forward on the road to getting back on court.

“We’re thrilled that a season start date has been locked away, now all our stakeholders have a date to work towards and fans can start to get excited for the start of the season,” he said. “We are planning to play out a full home and away season, and we are confident that our start date gives us the best opportunity to achieve that.

“Our guiding principles throughout this process have never changed, those being the health and wellbeing of the community alongside the financial viability of our sport. “There has been a collective commitment to those principles from the whole system including players, teams, partners and broadcasters and we will continue to take that approach as we look to get our season underway.

“I would like to thank our dedicated members and fans who have stuck by their teams and the sport through an incredibly challenging period. We look forward to showcasing our world class athletes once again from August 1.”

For full player profiles on each Suncorp Super Netball team, check out our team pages:

Adelaide Thunderbirds | Collingwood Magpies | GIANTS Netball | Melbourne Vixens | NSW Swifts | Queensland Firebirds | Sunshine Coast Lightning | West Coast Fever

Furthermore, the 2020 Constellation Cup between the Australian Diamonds and New Zealand Silver Ferns will take place later this year, whilst the 2020 Quad Series that was meant to take place between the world’s top two nations, as well as England and South Africa, has been cancelled due to the impact of COVID-19 on international travel.

Top 20 players over 30: #19 Laura Scherian

THERE are a host of international players across the world that, much like a fine wine, have simply gotten better with age. With netball on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Draft Central takes a look at players that fall into the category of over 30 and still have plenty in the tank given their on-court prowess. Coming up next at number 19 is Australian Diamonds and Sunshine Coast Lightning speedster, Laura Scherian.

With impressive take-off speed to dart across the court, 31-year-old Scherian is a great accompaniment to any team with her sheer netball know-how and reliability down the middle of the court. Able to have an impact in both wing attack and centre, the classy speedster creates a formidable option on circle edge with an ability to find space and sit herself on circle edge to feed into the goalers. 

At only 167cm, Scherian is a real energiser bunny with her ability to evade opposition and zip her way around the court. She can apply pressure in attack despite her smaller build and use her strength to whip past defenders to feed the ball with ease. Her drive down the court and transition between attack and defence is seamless, able to create and manipulate the space to find the ball. Scherian can cause mayhem through the centre court with her consistency and constant press forward, always one step ahead of the play with her netball smarts.

With plenty of experience playing alongside one of the greatest midcourters in the game in Laura Langman, Scherian has been able to adapt her skills more so to present a defensive option too, able to apply as much pressure in centre from a defensive perspective as her skill up in attack. Scherian’s experience and ability to adapt to the game at hand gives her a clear advantage over her opposition, and in a team which regularly switches its goalers depending on the match, she is always able to form a formidable connection with whichever option is heading up the post.


#20 Stacey Francis (West Coast Fever/England)
#19 Laura Scherian (Sunshine Coast Lightning/Australia)

Top 15 SSN training partners: #15 Ashlee Unie

WITH a number of netball leagues across the world being suspended due to COVID-19, the Draft Central team is taking a look at the top 15 training partners stepping up to the Suncorp Super Netball plate in 2020. The countdown begins with Sunshine Coast Lightning midcourt defender, Ashlee Unie. This countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration 2019 form, individual potential and future development.

A returnee to the Lightning camp as a training partner for the third year in a row, Unie, a versatile midcourt defender, has plenty of promise taken under the wing of some of the greatest defenders in the world. At 180cm tall, the Queensland talent and Lightning local was co-captain of Territory Storm in the Australian Netball League (ANL) in 2019 and was USC Thunder’s inaugural captain in the Queensland feeder competition, Sapphire Series. Predominantly a wing defence with the capability to jump into the circle, the exposure Unie has had to top-end talent with the Lightning has already helped her improve her game tenfold. 

With speed and precision Unie has the ability to track her opposition across the court and wear down her attacker, playing the typical dogged-defence role to deny crucial ball into the goal circle whether she is playing on the wing or in the circle. The 23-year-old may have plenty of development ahead of her, but with the experience and influence of Laura Langman and Karla Pretorius training beside her over the past few seasons she has plenty of chances to prove herself and step up to the plate. While Unie has not had a load of court time for the Lightning just yet, if the opportunity presents itself she is one to watch out for through the midcourt.


15. Ashlee Unie (Sunshine Coast Lightning)