SSN R10: LIghtning Vs Swifts
Swifts end Lightning’s finals hopes in thriller.
NSW Swifts hold on to beat Sunshine Coast Lightning 61-60 in a hard fought 1 point victory
The Sunshine Coast Lightning’s Super Netball dynasty is over after the two-time champions’ heartbreaking 61-60 loss to the NSW Swifts at USC Stadium.
Sunshine Coast have not missed a finals series since their foundation year in 2017, featuring in grand finals in their first three campaigns.
That sequence was snapped by the Swifts, who won a final quarter super goal shootout to pump fresh air into their own finals race.
Lightning captain Steph Wood and her rookie teammate Reilley Batcheldor sank five super shots to draw level with a minute remaining, but Swifts rookie Sophie Fawns had a long-range reply of her own to steady the defending champions.
Fawns’s circle partner Helen Housby shouldered an enormous load to finish with 41 goals, including the matchwinner.
Co-captain Maddy Proud extended her fantastic season, adding 45 feeds in a player-of-the-match performance.
With matches against the Vixens, Magpies and Fever on the horizon, a loss would have been a huge blow to the Swifts.
Proud knew what a win meant to their title defence and hauled her team across the line.
“It’s huge for us,” Proud said. “The first half of the season didn’t go to plan and I think we’re on the rise and just have to keep doing this consistently.”
It is a remarkable phenomenon of the league that every team had at least a sliver of a chance to reach the finals with five rounds remaining.
The Lightning sat last but there was no way of knowing it.
Mahalia Cassidy was at the heart of the Lightning resistance that clung to every one of the Swifts’ scoring runs in the first half.
Kadie-Ann Dehaney followed Cassidy’s example, using her telescopic arms to make the Swifts’ attack end look pokey.
After trailing all game, the Lightning nudged their way in front at three-quarter time after Cassidy lunged desperately to intercept a Sarah Klau pass and flick the ball to Batcheldor to convert.
After starting the game at centre, Cassidy finished at wing defence with three intercepts and two deflections to be her team’s standout.
Match report and stats: Suncorp Super Netball