2018 Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final: Match Highlights
Catch the highlights from the heart racing 2018 Grand Final between the West Coast Fever and Sunshine Coast Lightning
Sunshine Coast Lightning were the first to gain an advantage, cashing in on early penalties to score three goals in a row to take a 6-3 lead.
Those early nerves from the West Coast Fever quickly faded though, with the home side settling and going on a 3-0 clip of their own to level the scores.
With all the ascendency behind them, Fever locked down on the defensive end to force turnovers and take a 10-8 lead. But there was cause for concern, with star shooter Jhanielle Fowler struggling to move freely on the knee she injured against Giants two weeks previously.
The Lightning exercised patience, bunching up and inching their way up court to graft their way back – stealing the lead back with three minutes left in the quarter.
Goal attack and Samsung Diamond Steph Wood was taken out of the match briefly after a bump from Courtney Bruce saw her collide with the goal post.
She was strapped up and issued painkillers for suspected rib damage.
In her place North Queensland talent Cara Koenen entered the court, the 22-year-old getting her taste of the big time after deputising for Wood in the early rounds of the them2018 season.
The Lightning battled on gamely, but Fever claimed the last two goals of the quarter to lock the scores up at 14-14 at quarter time.
Wood returned to fray two minutes into the action and was immediately tested by a hip and shoulder from Fever’s Stacey Francis, but showed no reaction at all.
It was good news for the Lightning, but in the meantime, the Fever was moving the ball slickly and had opened up an 18-14 lead.
The Fever showed why they have been a well-oiled machine almost all season, giving the Lightning few opportunities and threading the needle on almost every attacking possession.
West Coast threatened to march away with the game as they coasted to a seven-goal lead, but Lightning scored late, secured an intercept and stole another late goal off the back of a penalty to only trail 29-26 at halftime.
Aspiring Diamond Kelsey Browne has been a key cog for the Lightning this season, but had been restricted by Fever Jess Anstiss in the first half – but Browne found space in the third quarter to get her stat sheet firing and midway through the term the scores were level again at 35-35.
Lightning edged ahead by two goals and held that advantage for most of the term until Courtney Bruce – who had been busy all match – secured the deflection that swung momentum back the home side’s way.
It was a see-sawing battle as the Lightning began to effect turnovers as well, and it was the visitors who went into the final quarter with a three-goal advantage after a late Karla Pretorius steal.
The Lightning drew first blood in the final term to push the lead out to four and locked down the defence to prevent Fowler and Medhurst from scoring at the other end.
Geva Mentor had what commentator’s called ’10 seconds of madness’, turning the ball over before effecting a steal and flinging it back into play – and hitting teammate Madeline McAuliffe in the head.
The Fever had to weather a mountain of defensive pressure but was up to the challenge, drawing back to within one goal. Then they latched on a Sunshine Coast error where a ball went between legs to take the lead back with six minutes left to play.
Mentor and Pretorius’ pressure forced a Medhurst turnover and in the blink of an eye, the visitors were up by two goals again with three minutes remaining in the match.
Mentor struck again with one minute to play, affecting the turnover the sealed the historic result.