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SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING (65) DEFEAT NSW SWIFTS (58)

The Sunshine Coast Lightning have ended NSW Swifts’ unbeaten start to the Suncorp Super Netball season with a 65-58 win.

Shooter Cara Koenen starred with 52 goals at USC Stadium as the Lightning lifted for the occasion to atone for their 17-goal defeat at the hands of the Swifts in last season’s grand final.

The defending champions came into the clash riding high on a three-game win streak but Sunshine Coast extracted revenge on the team that denied them a third-straight premiership in the 2019 decider.

“Obviously we’re still a little bit hurt from last year’s grand final so it was awesome to come out and get the win today,” Koenen told Nine Network after the win.

The Lightning bounced back from a 12-goal defeat to Melbourne Vixens in midweek, Koenen crediting her teammates as they delivered their best performance of the season.

“We had to go back to the drawing board after Wednesday night’s performance, we wanted to put together a really consistent four quarters and I think it was 100 per cent a full team effort today,” she said.

Sunshine Coast held a 29-26 lead at halftime before making their move in the third quarter, outscoring the Swifts 8-3 in the rebel Power Five period to build a 10-goal advantage. The Swifts made a late charge in the fourth quarter but it was not enough to prevent the Lightning from moving above them into second spot on the ladder on percentage.

The Lightning finally put their slow starts behind them to win their first opening quarter for the season, Laura Langman leading from the front with 11 feeds and six assists for the 17-14 advantage. The Swifts rallied in the second quarter but were unable to inch in front.

NSW were dealt a blow when Helen Housby left the court early in the third quarter after colliding with teammate Maddy Proud, a corked thigh keeping the star attacker off the court for the majority of the second half.

Housby came back into the contest during the rebel Power Five periods to finish with six Suncorp Super Shots, but the steady play of the Lightning won the day despite a 9-1 edge in two-point goals to the Swifts.

The Lightning face the Giants on Wednesday night while the Swifts face the Queensland Firebirds on Tuesday night.

Score breakdown
Q1: Lightning 17 v Swifts 14
Q2: Lightning 12 v Swifts 12
Q3: Lightning 21 v Swifts 14
Q4: Lightning 15 v Swifts 18

Nissan Player of The Match – Cara Koenen

Lightning starting seven: GS – Cara Koenen GA – Steph Wood WA – Laura Scherian C – Laura Langman WD – Jacqui Russell GD – Karla Pretorius GK – Phumza Maweni

Swifts starting seven: GS – Sophie Garbin GA – Helen Housby WA – Nat Haythornthwaite C – Maddy Proud WD – Sophie Craig GD – Lauren Moore GK – Sarah Klau