GIANTS Netball secured their fourth consecutive Suncorp Super Netball win with a thrilling 55-54 triumph over the Lightning on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday night.
It was a top of the table clash that lived up to its billing as two quality teams tussled rigorously from start to finish with the GIANTS’ experience just enough to get them over the line and strengthen their position on top of the Super Netball ladder.
Massive third and fourth quarter performances were key to the win against a top Lightning team who could have claimed the spoils themselves on another night.
GIANTS Head Coach Julie Fitzgerald was delighted with how the team stuck to their processes and saw out the win under immense pressure.
“We knew how important this game was and how tough it would be,” she said.
“They got off to such an amazing start and it would have been easy to panic and go downhill from there but we steadied and rallied and got ourselves back into the game.
“This was a gutsy win and that’s very pleasing.”
GIANTS goal shooter Jo Harten and her opposite number Caitlin Bassett showed their class early in the first quarter with both players giving a shooting masterclass as the teams traded early goals.
However it was the home side which prevailed better from the early exchanges, racing out to a 13-7 lead and forcing GIANTS skipper Kim Green into calling a tactical timeout five minutes before the first break.
The Lightning swarmed well in defence, with Silver Fern Lauray Langman and Kelsey Browne particularly effective, but the GIANTS managed to get more parity and ended the quarter just four behind.
The visitors stepped their game up early in the second quarter with Green and midcourt colleague Serena Guthrie pushing forward with gusto to give Harten and Susan Pettitt the opportunity to put the GIANTS within one.
The Lightning then rallied again with Bassett and fellow attacker Steph Wood restoring a five-goal advantage before the Guthrie-Pettitt supply line keep the GIANTS well in touch: four down after the teams had sweated out a hard-earned 12 goals each in the second period.
Fitzgerald introduced goal shooter Kristiana Brice into proceedings after halftime and she was instrumental in turning the game in her side’s favour. Green was providing bullet like passes into the circle and Brice was receiving and rewarding. She also linked well with goal attack Pettitt whose influence in the game was growing too.
Heading into the last break the GIANTS had reversed a four-goal deficit to lead by one.
That lead was extended to five midway through the last period as the GIANTS played a patient build-up game in attack, slowly taking the sting out of the game.
Penalties in the shooting circle proved costly for the visitors as fulltime approached but, try as they might, they couldn’t shake off the hosts. Bassett was rewarding her team for their efforts in supplying possession and with three minutes on the clock the gap was one.
The Lightning hit the front with just two minutes to play but the GIANTS refused to panic. Experienced campaigners Green and Bec Bulley were to the fore as the visitors made their way up court and a Pettitt effort with a cool Brice double was enough to seem them home.
GIANTS: Q1: 13 – Q2: 25 (12) – Q3: 41 (16) – Q4: 55 (14)
LIGHTNING: Q1: 17 – Q2: 29 (12) – Q3: 40 (11) – Q4 54 (14)
GIANTS: GS Jo Harten, GA Susan Pettitt, WA Kim Green, C Serena Guthrie, WD Jamie-Lee Price, GD Bec Bulley, GK Sam Poolman
LIGHTNING: GS Caitlin Bassett, GA Stephanie Wood, WA Kelsey Browne, C Laura Langman, WD Karla Mostert, GD Erena Mikaere, GK Geva Mentor
Q3 Kristina Brice (GIANTS) to GS, Cara Koenen (Lightning) to GA
MATCH MVP: Caitlin Bassett
GIANTS: 55/67 @ 82%
J Harten: 15/19 @79 %
S Pettitt: 23/29 @ 79%
K Brice: 17/19 @ 89%
LIGHTNING: 54/58 @ 93%
C Bassett: 45/47 @ 96%
S Wood: 7/8 @ 88%
C Koenen: 2/3 @ 67%