Lightning bounce back in style

The Lightning have edged out a persistent Swifts outfit to re-enter the winner’s circle in round four of the Super Netball season.

Sunshine Coast defenders Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni have rebounded from a horror showing just over a week ago to lead the Lightning to a win that could turn their Super Netball season.

The Lightning beat the NSW Swifts 58-54 at the University of Sunshine Coast on Sunday to cement their position near the top of the competition ladder, with South African pair Pretorius and Maweni dominating proceedings.

After being outplayed in the Lightning’s fadeout loss to the Fever a week earlier, Pretorius and Maweni dominated the Swifts international shooters Sam Wallace and Helen Housby, finishing with a combined seven intercepts and 14 gains to turn the match in their team’s favour.

Lightning coach Kylee Byrne had given her defenders a licence to go hunting for the ball and Maweni in particular took the initiative in a bid to negate the seven centimetres she gave away to Swifts form shooter Sam Wallace.

“We talked a lot about needing to gain the ball more to get points on the scoreboard,” Byrne said of the focus on forcing turnover ball.

“We had a bit of a focus on not just worrying about your player but knowing where the ball is at all times and I think that paid off today.

“Phumza’s had a licence to go out and have a look outside and that’s when she’s at her best.

“She came out with four intercepts outside the circle today and we were really happy with that.”

Consistency reaps rewards

The Lightning were outstanding in the opening quarter against the Fever last week but faded badly to lose the final three-quarters by 24 goals.

But they held their focus and intensity throughout the game against the Swifts, in an effort that pleased Byrne.

“We needed to win that way – we needed to just really grind it out and in those pressure moments at the end of quarters and the end of the game we could come through with the goods,” Byrne said.

“We had a big talk during the week about doing your own role and knowing that that would be enough to get the outcome that we needed.”

In a tight match – the biggest lead at any quarter break was three and the scores were still locked late in the final quarter – the Lightning won the tight moments, with their players standing up across the court.

Swifts the ‘Girl with the Curl’

When they were good they were very good but Swifts coach Bryony Akle said her side drifted in and out of their game plan, resulting in a “very disappointing loss”.

“We had great patches but when we were terrible, it was terrible,” she said.

“We’ve got lots to work on, lots of hard conversations and hopefully some good trainings.”

While Maweni and Pretorius starred for the Lightning, Akle said the Swifts’ defenders had probably won “enough ball back for us to win by 10” but had not been rewarded by their teammates.

“We must convert those turnovers. We know playing in the best comp in the world it’s really hard to get ball back and we must reward them, so that’s something we’ve got to get a lot better at,” Akle said.

Cassidy rewards new side

Mahalia Cassidy’s off-season switch from the Queensland Firebirds to the Lightning is paying big dividends with the midcourter starring for her new side.

Cassidy shone in her match-up against Paige Hadley, running the Diamonds squad member ragged and allowing the Lightning to play with speed through the middle of the court.

Her combination with fellow midcourter Laura Scherian continues to develop and her versatility allowed her to shift into wing defence late in the match.

SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 58 (Koenen 39, Wood 19) def NSW SWIFTS 54 (Wallace 38, Housby 13, Garbin 3).

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