Sharni Layton - August 24, 2018

Who’s going to win the 2018 Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final?

I’m calling it now. It will be the Sunshine Coast Lightning.

My tip isn’t based on form or an instinctive feeling, but rather a formula I like to call, “Sharni Facts.”

For the last eight years (at least), the premiership winning team has been the number one defensive team in the league.

And this year, the Sunshine Coast Lighting have had 100 less ‘goals against’ scored on them as compared to the West Coast Fever.

I’m no statistician, but that’s a lot.

The downside for the Lightning is that this will be their third away game on the trot and Brisbane to Perth is the longest flight a netballer has to make during the season.

If you go by this train of thought, well, then the Fever should have this one in the bag.

Securing a home grand final has guaranteed them a week off and some time to prepare and plan, both physically and mentally.

You’d think it’s as simple as that. But this is THE Grand Finale of 2018.

And increased media attention, big crowds and pressure can do amazing things to players, particularly if you haven’t been on this stage before.

It’s important to stay focused amongst the hype and not pre-play the game in your head.

You have to train hard and know when you step out onto the court on Sunday, that you’ll leave nothing out there when the final buzzer sounds.

For the Fever, they do have a few younger players, who might not have experienced this before.

This is where the Lightning can capitalise and turn the contest in their favour, before it’s even begun.

The Lightning have been through this before. They know what to expect. They are the reigning champs, and for good reason.

They say defence wins premierships. And this team – led by Geva Mentor and Karla Pretorius – are by far, the best defensive combination in the league.

I think Mentor has the ability to keep Jhaniele Fowler pinned on the baseline and with Pretorious coming off an incredible preliminary final with seven intercepts (which is almost unheard of from the GD position), Nat Medhurst will also have her work cut out for her.

In saying this, the Fever can score so quickly. They are so dangerous up front. The Lightning can’t afford to switch off at any point in the game if they are to win this.

If they can put together a solid 60-minute performance; the title is theirs for the taking.

Either way, this is not a game you are going to want to miss! It will be an absolute nail biter to the end.

Remember: during the home and away season, the Fever pipped the Lightning at the post by one goal in both games.

But this is the grand final. And I believe the Lightning will be holding the trophy come Sunday evening.

And just as an FYI, I’m more than happy to eat my words as I think it would be fantastic if the Fever do win; for netball and for the state of WA. I just don’t think they will. #DefenceDoesntLie