23/04/2024

Bragging rights are on the line for the Sunshine Coast Lightning and QLD Firebirds in the final 'Battle of the Bruce'. (Photo: Supplied by QLD Firebirds)

Finals might be out of the equation heading into the final Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) round between the Queensland Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning, but the stakes are always high in the ‘Battle of the Bruce’.

Back in Round 2, it was the Lightning who got the edge over the Firebirds 65-55, with Cara Koenen shooting 52 from 53 shots to guide the Lightning to a 10-goal win.

Off the back of a two goal win against third placed Adelaide Thunderbirds in Round 13, the Lightning will take confidence into the final round of the season.

Ash Unie (Queensland Firebirds) and Annie Miller (Sunshine Coast Lightning) will be looking to bring home the Queensland Cup. (Photo: Supplied by QLD Firebirds)

“We had a really good week away,” said Lightning midcourter Annie Miller.

“Although we didn’t get the win in Perth, we certainly had things to be proud of on court, and then we did a really good job at getting the win down in Adelaide.

“Looking forward, we were really happy with probably 55 minutes of that game; we are just looking to finish it off that last five minutes in that super shot period.

“[We had to think about] how do we stop them from getting those twos, which would be really applicable with the Firebirds as well.”

Losing five of their past seven games, it was a surprise win from the Lightning, who took down finals-bound Thunderbirds in Adelaide.

A strong game-plan and winning the individual battles were key to getting the two goal winning result, the Lightning will be looking to bring that mindset against the Firebirds.

“I think we did a really good job at scouting the Thunderbirds,” continued Miller.

“We really came into that game with a really strong gameplan, and those girls that stepped out on court did their job.

“Everybody won their individual battles, so we were really proud of that effort down in Adelaide.”

The Lightning will head into the SSN off-season with the question of what could have been, after being eliminated from finals contention.

For Miller and the Lightning, a top four finish is something they felt they deserved, however, there is still plenty to play for in the final round to secure that fifth position.

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“We really do think that we deserved to be in that top four,” continued Miller.

“And obviously a lot of our games we only lost by a few, so we really do want to finish fifth, top of the bottom.

“So still very much a lot to play for.”

With nothing but pride on the line is in the final Queensland derby of the SSN season, the rivalry between both Firebirds and Lightning is still exciting despite their ladder positions.

The Lightning will be looking to sweep the season against the Firebirds with a win on Sunday, lifting the trophy in front of their home support.

“Yeah, for sure [we want the win],” said Miller

“It’s the Battle of the Bruce”.

“It’s nice to finish off playing here at home and playing another Queensland team, definitely still a lot to play for, I mean it’s the derby, so one of us wants to hold the trophy at the end.

“But the Firebirds have had some really good games the last couple of rounds, but so have we, so we are looking to really finish the season off on a high.”

At 22-year-old, Miller is an emerging talent, having spent the past two seasons with the Lightning after coming across from GIANTS Netball prior to the 2021 SSN season.

Still learning within the Lightning system, Miller who has played 11 games in this season and will be looking to finish the season strong against their biggest rivals.

“I am really happy with how my seasons gone so far,” continued Miller.

“Still learning, and I think I had a really strong start at the start of the season and just learning to keep adding things to my toolkit.

“After people have scouted me obviously.”

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