Lightning finds Vixens tough to handle
  • Monday 23 January 2017
Sunshine Coast Lightning

Former Trans-Tasman netball league winner Melbourne has shown its class with two straight practice match wins against Lightning on its maiden trip to the Sunshine Coast.

The Melbourne club prevailed by six goals on Sunday, following its nail-biting three-goal victory on Saturday night.

Vixens coach Simone McKinnis admitted the score-line in both matches was irrelevant but acknowledged the importance of two tough pre-season hit-outs.

“One of the reasons we came here was because we haven’t previously travelled to the Sunshine Coast to compete, so it was about getting familiar with this road trip,” McKinnis said.

The Vixens coach said she learned a great deal about her own players and thought they handled the occasion with aplomb.

“Even though they (Lightning) came back at us strongly, I think at those critical moments we composed ourselves and pushed out again,” she said.

Lightning coach Noeline Taurua conceded her team lacked spark early on in Saturday’s showdown.

“After the first quarter it was nearly home and hosed at 17-7. They (Vixens) had a great presence and I don’t think we reacted fast enough,” Taurua said.

The home side clawed its way back into the contest and outscored its more fancied opponent in the next three quarters, before it eventually fell 55-52.

“We showed a bit of grit but we need to be able to maintain our intensity throughout the match and not be as reactive to the opposition,” Taurua said.

“There’s a mind shift we need to make as well, to know it’s not just going to happen and we have to make it happen.”

Taurua was “elated” with the performance of Australian Diamond Stephanie Wood who is on the comeback trail from a knee injury.

“It’s a real highlight for us seeing her out there. For us to have Steph play four quarters is positive for her and our team,” explained Taurua.

“That combination of Steph and Caitlin (Bassett) is big for us. I want them to be a bit stronger and show their experience out there.”

Goal attack Wood was rested for the second practice match, as Lightning coaches tinkered with combinations. 

Training partner and Fijian Pearl, Maria Lutua, spent time at goal attack, while New Zealand international, Laura Langman, moved between wing defence and centre, and Kelsey Browne traded places with Laura Scherian at wing attack.

Melbourne’s combinations gelled seamlessly as the experienced outfit applied pressure almost immediately.

Defender Kadie-Ann Dehaney made life tough for Sunshine Coast shooters, while at the other end of the court, goal attack Mwai Kumwenda was a constant threat.

The visitors led at every break and held-off a late Lightning challenge to secure a 53-47 victory.

“This weekend’s matches showed us what a tough competition it’s going to be this year and you can’t underestimate any team,” Lightning assistant coach Kylee Byrne said.

“There were great individual performances and some really strong team passages of play, but we know consistency will be a key factor in getting wins on the board.”

The stage is now set for a tantalising clash next month in Round Two of the Suncorp Super Netball competition at the University of the Sunshine Coast Sports Stadium.

“I know they’re going to be a quality team with the players they have in their line-up. I know we’ll be coming up here having to play our best netball to come away with a win,” McKinnis said.

Saturday 21 January

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

 

LIGHTNING

7

16

14

15

52

VIXENS

17

15

12

11

55

Sunday 22 January

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

 

LIGHTNING

10

10

11

16

47

VIXENS

17

16

12

8

53

  • Goals scored per quarter