Lightning vow to give Thunderbirds no quarter
Let’s not mess around.
The Sunshine Coast Lightning plan to collect every last one of the eight points on offer when they take on the winless Adelaide Thunderbirds this weekend.
The Lightning, who claimed their first win of the season last weekend against Magpies Netball, know every point could be critical in the finals race come season’s end under the new Suncorp Super Netball points system.
Captain and goal shooter Caitlin Bassett, who starred with a perfect 37/37 against the Magpies, says Adelaide can expect no respite this weekend as the Thunderbirds try to win their first quarter of the season, with the Lightning chasing every possible bonus point.
“It’s no disrespect to Thunderbirds, it’s about improving on our game last week,” Bassett says.
“Our last quarter (against the Magpies) was probably not up to standard for us and we did manage to scrape that win but for us it’s about putting four quarters together and getting those eight points for us to help elevate us up the ladder a little bit.”
The Thunderbirds will be bolstered by the return of defender Fiona Fowler, who missed Round 4 after taking a knock to the head, but will need to increase their defensive output considerably if they’re to be in contention, having conceded 70 or more goals in each game thus far.
And they’ll have to contend with a hungry and confident Bassett on Sunday, with the Diamonds captain back to her best after a sluggish start to the season.
“I’ve needed to pull that game out,” she said of the Magpies win.
“I’ve been a bit slow to start the season, obviously. You can put excuses off the back of Comm Games, but for me it’s about getting out there and doing the best for my team. If we want to win every player on court needs to be standing up and I’m definitely one of those people.”
“For me it was about the work out in front of me. Shez (Laura Scherian), Kelsey (Browne) and Steph (Wood) really stepped it up a notch and obviously the defenders gave us so many opportunities, so it really helped me out.”
The Lightning won’t have it all their own way, with tall teen Shimona Nelson growing in confidence in the goal circle each week, and contributing 37 goals against the Melbourne Vixens in Round 4.
Sunshine Coast assistant coach Kylee Byrne, who took the reins in Round 4 and will again this weekend as head coach Noeline Taurua remains in New Zealand after the death of her father, says eventually things will click for the Thunderbirds, so her charges need to be ready.
“They’ve brought a lot of new players in that had never played together, so each week they are going to get better and those combinations are going to start to form. So you’ll probably see those margins decrease over time. Let’s just hope it’s not this weekend,” she says.
Byrne says her team is still stewing on certain parts of last week’s game as it seeks a perfect four-quarter performance.
“I think we did step up another level again and obviously got the win but I still think there’s so much room for improvement. We’ve gone over the video numerous times already, looked at the numbers and the stats and I actually think we should have won that game by a lot more than we did,” she says.
And she knows that a big performance against the Thunderbirds could be enough to put the Lightning firmly back in the finals race.
“Let’s just get another really good performance out there, hopefully come away with maximum points and all of a sudden the ladder changes drastically. That’s what the competition will do with these points this year – you can go from seventh up to third in one round and that’s certainly our aim this weekend.”