LIGHTNING TOO STRONG FOR MAGPIES
Tiarne Swersky - May 6th, 2017
Collingwood’s three-game winning streak has come to an end after the Sunshine Coast Lightning defeated the Magpies by seven goals at Hisense Arena on Saturday night.
Playing in the second fixture of the round 11 double-header, the Lightning proved too strong for the Magpies, leading at every change to carve out a 56-49 victory.
“Absolutely an opportunity missed. We’ve got the players, we’ve got the plan, we just couldn’t execute for enough minutes,’’ Magpies coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell told the media post-game.
“Some good things came out of it that we know what players are going to do when they come on and off the court, but absolutely a missed opportunity to really cement that spot in the four.”
The Magpies were gallant in the final term, cutting the Lightning’s lead to three goals, before a tactical timeout with five minutes remaining halted the Magpies’ momentum.
Led by a perfect Caitlin Bassett shooting display (37/37) and an inspirational Geva Mentor (six deflections, two interceptions) performance, the Lightning disposed of the Magpies in front of a passionate Hisense crowd and now sit second on the SSN ladder – only one win behind the Melbourne Vixens.
With strong Lightning performances across the board, it was their mid courter who impressed Keppich-Birrell most.
“Laura Langman did a great job. “She may not have won many intercepts, and Madi certainly kept her busy, but she played an important role for them and played her part well.”
The Magpies’ rotation of the GA position continued to be a focal point, after coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell subbed in Alice Teague-Neeld for Cody Lange (8/14, two goal assists) at the half time break.
Teague-Neeld came out firing, shooting 8/9, as well as adding three goal assists, 16 centre-pass receives and five feeds to her name in two quarters of play.
“Alice has been building the whole season. She’s a young athlete. Shooting is all about confidence – and she has got it."
The 21-year-old came on to the court after the Magpies shuffled Caitlin Thwaites into GA and Lange in GS in the second quarter following a period of Lightning dominance.
Although it wasn’t Thwaites’ most accurate performance of the season, the star shooter bounced back from a difficult opening quarter to finish the evening shooting 34/41 and six rebounds.
Defender Sharni Layton was as energetic as ever in the final third, amassing nine deflections and four deflections as she tried to nullify Bassett. In what was an entertaining and fierce battle, it was the 24 penalty calls against Layton that ultimately swung the matchup in the Lightning’s favour.
Former West Coast Fever mid-courter Shae Brown was called into the action for Kim Ravaillion at centre in the third quarter, and the Magpie didn’t disappoint – working tirelessly for her eight goal assists and 22 circle feeds in the final 30 minutes of play.
Keppich-Birrell said her team's flexibility in rotations was a tool she has used to her advantage.
"We have played netball for 90 years. Why can't we play it differently?"
"My players are totally capable of having players come on and off the court and that is the strength of our team.
"People can say what they want about it, but for me and our team, we're a team of 10 and we all contribute.
"Tell me, what other team sport at professional level has that same combination on, from beginning to end?
"It just doesn't happen anywhere else. So let's try and do something different in netball and see what we can create that is exciting."
The loss hands the Lightning the series win (2-0) over Collingwood. After the Firebirds fell to the Vixens in the opening match of the night, the Magpies’ three-point buffer in fourth spot on the ladder remains in tact.
The Magpies will look to bounce back at Hisense Arena next Saturday night when they face the NSW Swifts in round 12 action.
“It’s a good chance to consolidate. No game is easy in this league as we see every week. We may be playing the bottom three teams on the ladder (in the final three rounds), but they certainly don’t play that way. We need to make sure we take all of our opportunities and cement our spot.”
Lightning shooting statistics
Caitlin Bassett 37/37 (100%)
Steph Wood 19/23 (83%)
Magpies shooting statistics
Caitlin Thwaites 33/41 (80%)
Alice Teague-Neeld 8/9 (89%)
Cody Lange 8/14 (57%)
Lightning starting seven - GS: Caitlin Bassett, GA: Steph Wood, WA: Kelsey Browne, C: Laura Scherian, WD: Laura Langman, GD: Karla Mostert, GK: Geva Mentor
Magpies starting seven – GS: Caitlin Thwaites, GA: Cody Lange, WA: Madi Robinson, C: Kim Ravaillion, WD: Ash Brazill, GD: April Brandley, GK: Sharni Layton
MVP: Caitlin Bassett (Lightning)
Photos: Getty Images