Magpies Netball star Sharni Layton won the battle but lost the war with Caitlin Bassett’s Sunshine Coast Lightning in a thrilling one-goal win for the home side at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
Bassett shot the winning goal with barely seconds remaining to seal a 51-50 Suncorp Super Netball win and retain the side’s place in the competition top three.
The Lightning showed enormous character to win after chief playmaker Laura Langman was injured early in the second quarter.
The lead changed four times in a frantic final term, with Sunshine Coast centre Laura Scherian poaching the intercept that created the opportunity for Bassett’s match-winning shot.
Bassett and Layton fought a mighty battle all game, with Layton arguably taking the points by keeping her opponent to 38 goals, her lowest total of the season.
Layton also produced a couple of turnovers in the final quarter that almost won the game for the Magpies.
But Bassett was strong when it mattered, and so too was Magpies shooter Caitlin Thwaites who finished with 42 goals.
Her duel with Geva Mentor was a ripper. Mentor, the Sunshine Coast skipper was outstanding as she hauled her team back into the contest after Langman’s departure.
The packed crowd got exactly what they bargained for, two heavyweight contenders going at each other in a high-quality contest.
And when the stakes rise, so too does the performances of the game’s elite, with the Lightning’s Langman stamping her authority on the game with three first-quarter intercepts.
Noeline Taurua started Langman at wing defence to dent the confidence of Madi Robinson, and the plan worked until the Silver Ferns great left the court, bound for hospital, early in the second quarter with a serious finger injury.
Her absence disrupted not only the Lightning’s transition, but also their ability to keep the Magpies’ feeders in check.
Robinson’s involvement soared in the second term. She added 12 feeds and four goal assists in a busy quarter, double her first term contribution.
The fighting qualities of the Lightning’s defenders kept them in the game up until halftime.
Captain Geva Mentor and Karla Mostert’s footwork and anticipation yielded a handful of possession gains as they kept the Magpies to a three-goal deficit at the long break.
Their defensive hustle energised Sunshine Coast’s midcourt into action.
While their pass placement into Bassett was occasionally off, Scherian and Kelsey Browne combined with goal attack Stephanie Wood to turn a four-goal deficit into a 40-37 lead at the final change.