A dominant second half performance has seen the Sunshine Coast Lightning open their 2021 Suncorp Super Netball account with a win over the Collingwood Magpies.
The Lightning broke away in the third quarter with 21 goals to 16, running out 11 goal winners. The match was a tight slog early, before the Lightning opened things up in the second half.
Magpies coach Nicole Richardson lamented what she saw as a poor third quarter.
“We’re very disappointed,” she said.
“We know we can play a lot better than what we put out there.”
The Magpies took it right up to the Lightning early in the game, with Shimona Nelson and Gabby Sinclair in fine goal scoring form. They trailed by just a goal at quarter time, and three at the half.
Cara Koenen and eventual Match MVP Steph Wood were quick to respond, the pair combining for 51 of the Lightning’s 67 goals and scoring three super shot goals between them.
And as Richardson noted, it was another key stat let them down.
“A key focus of ours was our centre pass conversion,” she said.
“I think our centre pass conversion was 36% in the last quarter and overall, 56, 57% compared to 71. You’re never going to win a game that way.”
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Although the Magpies came up short, they were pleased to have Kelsey Browne and Ash Brazill back on court.
Brazill finished with 12 centre pass receives and eight goal assists, while Browne had 17 assists and 28 feeds before sitting out the last quarter.
Richardson said Browne sitting out the game was for the sake of a shake up on court, rather than anything more worrying or sinister.
“I was happy with what Kelsey did,” she said.
“But it was really just about getting someone else out there that plays a different style game, just to see if we can unsettle what they [the Lightning] did, because they’re very tall [across that transfers line] compared to what we are.
“Kels has pulled up fine, I was happy with her game, but it was more about seeing if we could try something different.
“I thought Brazzy adjusted to the structures well. She’s a smart player, plays with her heart on her sleeve.
“For me it was just great to see her back out on court tonight, and get through that game.
“She’ll be better for that game, great to see her get through it, and looking forward to what she can put out on court next week.”
Match MVP Wood was also happy to see Brazill and Browne back, and celebrated their successful returns after the match.
It was a successful club debut for Mahalia Cassidy and Kate Shimmin, who both took to the court for the first time in Lightning colours.
Cassidy had stints in the centre position and wing defence, finishing with 28 feeds and 17 goal assists, while Shimmin had stints in the defensive half, gathering an intercept in her 100th league game.
Looking to the next round against the Giants, Richardson discussed what they will take into the match.
“They’ve got a lot of depth in that attack end, I think that’s a strength of their game,” she said.
“And as I said, our centre pass conversion was terrible. So against the Giants we’ve got to make sure in our training environment that we rectify that.
“We’ve got to limit the amount of two-point shots they get, because they are lethal from that distance, so we’ve got to not let any easy shots from that two-point range.”
As for the Lightning, they will be back in Melbourne next week to play the Melbourne Vixens, and will seek to go 2-0 to give their season the perfect start.
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