Star attacker Steph Wood has battled through injury to help inspire the Sunshine Coast Lightning to a 51-47 Super Netball victory over the Collingwood Magpies.After sitting out the majority of Sunday’s first half at USC Stadium with a knee problem, Wood’s introduction triggered a third-quarter surge as the home side recorded their second win of the season.
A match-winner for the Lightning in last week’s season opener against the Queensland Firebirds, the Diamonds goaler dropped out of the starting seven moments before the opening possession with a knee issue flaring during the warm-up.
But with Wood entering the game late the first half, the Lightning outscored Collingwood 16-9 in the third quarter to break open a tight defensive contest.
“I think what’s great is that this season we’re going to have to play with interchangeable teams,” Lightning captain Laura Langman told Nine Network.
“I thought Cara (Koenen) and Peace (Proscovia) started working well together, it’s a new combination.
“We are going to have a lot of opportunities to test it but obviously (Wood) is a big player not to be in our starting seven.”
Nissan Player of the Match, Langman was the driving force for the Lightning, the 34-year-old New Zealand international starring in midcourt with 30 feeds, 15 assists and two intercepts, while defensive pair Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni were at their disruptive best.
With goal shooter Shimona Nelson (32/37) playing her first game of the season, Collingwood capitalised on the Lightning’s late line-up change to grab an early 6-1 advantage.
As Jamaican defender Jodi-Ann Ward impressed alongside veteran defender Geva Mentor, the Magpies took a five-goal lead closing in on half-time with goal attack Gabi Sinclair nailing the only successful super shot of the half.
But Wood’s introduction paid immediate dividends as she played her part in the final two goals to cut Collingwood’s halftime lead to three.
The Lightning made their move in the third quarter, Koenen nailing 14 of 15 shots to build a 37-33 lead before a 6-2 start to the fourth quarter put the game beyond Collingwood’s reach.
Sunshine Coast’s win sets up an intriguing round-three encounter with the Melbourne Vixens on Wednesday while Magpies face the Queensland Firebirds on Tuesday with both teams desperate to record their first win of the season.
Q1: Lightning 10 v Magpies 11
Q2: Lightning 11 v Magpies 13
Q3: Lightning 16 v Magpies 9
Q4: Lightning 14 v Magpies 14
Nissan Player of The Match – Laura Langman (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
Lightning shooting statistics
Cara Koenen – Total points: 38 – G1: 38/44 (86%) G2: 0/0 (0%)
Steph Wood – Total points: 5 – G1: 5/9 (55%) G2: 0/1 (0%)
Peace Proscovia – Total points: 6 – G1: 6/9 (66%) G2: 0/1 (0%)
Binnian Hunt – Total points: 2 – G1: 2/3 (66%) G2 0/0 (0%)
Magpies shooting statistics
Shimona Nelson – Total points: 32 – G1: 32/37 (86%) G2: 0/1 (0%)
Gabby Sinclair – Total points: 7 – G1: 5/8 (46%) G2: 1/5 (20%)
Nyah Allen – Total points: 8 – G1: 4/4 (100%) G2: 2/2 (100%)
Lightning starting seven: GS – Cara Koenen GA – Steph Wood WA – Laura Scherian C – Laura Langman WD – Maddy McAuliffe GD – Karla Pretorius GK – Phumza Maweni
Magpies starting seven: GS – Shimona Nelson GA – Gabby Sinclair WA – Madi Browne C – Molly Jovic WD – Melissa Bragg GD – Jodi-Ann Ward GK – Geva Mentor