The Super Netball preliminary final and first grand finalist have been confirmed.
At the completion of the Suncorp Super Netball semi-finals, it has been confirmed that the Sunshine Coast Lightning will host the West Coast Fever for the league’s preliminary final at USC Stadium on the Sunshine Coast next Sunday 11 October.
The Lightning yesterday went down to the Melbourne Vixens and will therefore host the preliminary final against the Fever who defeated the NSW Swifts at USC Stadium today.
As was confirmed yesterday, the Melbourne Vixens have cemented their spot in the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final which will be played at Nissan Arena in Brisbane on Sunday 18 October. The winner of the preliminary final will be the Vixens opponent.
Preliminary final weekend is always a fun matchup to discuss because, in order to play in the prelim, you have to have either lost the major semi-final or won the minor semi-final.
Can the loser bounce back or will the team fresh off a win ride that momentum all the way to the Grand Final?
In this case, we have a Lightning team who were thoroughly outplayed by the Melbourne Vixens in the major semi going up against the Fever who have just pulled off one of the best comebacks in recent Super Netball history.
It was a tough day at the office for the Lightning against the Vixens, particularly in the attack end, where they were kept to just 47 points for the game, including a franchise low seven point second quarter.
Head Coach Kylee Byrne will know this cannot happen against a Fever team that averages 69 points-for per game.
The Fever didn’t have it all their way against the Swifts in the minor semi-final. They trailed the reigning champions by as much as nine points late in the third quarter but were able to fight back and win by five.
It’s going to take a mighty effort from the Lightning if they want to play in their fourth straight Grand Final, considering how much they have struggled against the high-scoring Fever so far this season.
Let’s take a closer look at this massive preliminary final matchup.
Head to Head
The Fever are one of the only teams in the competition that can boast about their 2020 record against the Lightning.
They’ve swept them, although “swept” doesn’t feel like a strong enough verb for what the Fever have done against the Lightning this year. How about they’ve leaf blowered them? They raked them all up into a pile and put them in the green bin?
What we’re trying to say is that the Fever have beaten the Lightning by a combined 44 points in their two games this year. Yep, 44 points.
In Round 8, the Fever dropped 80 points on the Lightning, on their way to handing the Sunshine Coast a franchise high 24 point loss.
Prelim head to head
That one could have been even uglier, as the Fever led by as much as 27 going into the final quarter in one of the most dominant performances in recent history.
Even more surprising was that they belted the Lightning again when they met in Round 11, this time to the tune of 20 points.
Jhaniele Fowler was the difference in those two meetings, no surprises there. She scored a combined 112 points against them and seemed to have the Lightning defenders well and truly worked out.
Cara Koenen vs Courtney Bruce
Prelim key match up
While it’s tempting to put the focus on Jhaniele Fowler vs Phumza Maweni or Laura Langman vs Verity Charles, we think this game will come down to whether the Lightning can keep up with the high scoring Fever.
Sunshine Coast Goal Shooter Cara Koenen has been great this season, and her 477 points leads the team. But she has struggled mightily against the tougher defences of the league, including this Fever team.
She managed just 18 in their Round 8 matchup and a better but below her average 29 in Round 11. In a game where you can pretty much pencil the Fever in for 65+ points, the Lightning need more out of their number one target.
If the West Coast Fever defence, led by their captain Courtney Bruce, can shutdown the Lightning’s main source of scoring while Jhaniele Fowler and co keep the scoreboard ticking over up the other end, this one could get ugly.
Bruce is on fire right now and has put together a massive season, reeling in 38 interceptions, 89 deflections and 33 rebounds in just 13 games played.
Koenen needs step up.
Sunshine Coast Lightning v West Coast Fever
USC Stadium, Sippy Downs
Sunday 11 October – 3am UK
Watch: Netball Live Official App