MATCH RESULT: Lightning too strong for Firebirds in first Queensland clash

Lightning come out on top in first Queensland Derby of the 2019 SSN Season

The Sunshine Coast Lightning have claimed victory in the first clash against the Lorna Jane Queensland Firebirds in the 2019 Suncorp Super Netball Season, taking the win 71-56. After an injury riddled preseason, Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson was ruled out of the match after sustaining a minor injury at training on Thursday.

In the highly anticipated clash, the Lightning jumped out of the blocks early with a strong start, but the Firebirds steadied to go goal for goal in the first half of the first quarter.

Starting the game at 994 National League goals to date, Gretel Tippett gave the Queensland fans a reason to cheer, taking the shooting lead and hitting 1000 career goals in the first quarter.
The Lightning defence was hard to beat, with a few intercepts from Lightning WD Maddie Mcauliffe putting the Lightning up by 6 at the end of the first term.

Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke was not afraid to make changes to mix things up, with Jemma Mi Mi taking the court as Centre, Jenner and Hinchliffe teaming up for circle defence and Mahalia Cassidy moving to WD while the injured captain Gabi Simpson cheered the girls on from the bench.

The Lightning continued their momentum into the second quarter and pushed the lead out to 8 goals mid way through. The Firebirds defenders threw everything at the Lightning shooters, getting hands in and challenging the ball, but the play just didn’t go the way of the purple side.

A late comeback from the Firebirds wasn’t enough to reel the score in, with the home team going into the half time break 11 goals ahead.

In a move that thrilled Firebirds fans in the crowd, Aiken entered the court in the third quarter as GK, a position relatively unfamiliar to the crowd, teaming up with Tara Hinchliffe as the defensive pair tasked with halting the Lightning shooting flow. Amy Sommerville took to the court as GS in her second outing in the purple dress.

Mi Mi’s second quarter athleticism was rewarded retaining her time on court and moving to WA, and Cassidy back into Centre.

Aiken quickly found her defensive feet and started getting valuable deflections and intercepts, putting doubt in the Lightning midcourters minds when feeding into the circle. The Firebirds continued the momentum to close the gap, Tippett’s athleticism combining well with the long bomb of Sommerville to win the quarter and close the gap heading into the final quarter.

The Firebirds threw everything at the Lightning in the final quarter, with their defensive efforts and smooth play down the court giving Firebirds fans a glimpse of hope.

Spurred on by a home crowd the Lightning rallied, causing costly turnovers and getting a run of goals to again widen the gap midway through the last quarter. MVP Peace Proscovia settled against the strong Firebirds defence, and continued her dominant shooting streak to convert turnover ball, and cement the Lightning win.

Not even a 100% shooting effort from Gretel Tippett could eat into the Lightning margin, with the Sunshine Coast rivals proving too strong to overcome.

Chasing their first win of the season, the Lorna Jane Queensland Firebirds will take on the GWS Giants at home at the Queensland State Netball Centre on Sun May 19.

Score Breakdown
Q1: Firebirds 15 v Lightning 21
Q2: Firebirds 13 v Lightning 18
Q3: Firebirds 17 v Lightning 15
Q4: Firebirds 11 v Lightning 17

Suncorp Super Netball Premiership Points
Firebirds – 1
Lightning – 7

Nissan Player of the Match
Sunshine Coast Lightning – Peace Proscovia

Firebirds shooting statistics
Romelda Aiken: 10/15 (66%)
Gretel Tippett: 40/40 (100%)
Amy Sommerville: 6/8 (75%)

Lightning shooting statistics
Peace Proscovia: 53/55 (96%)
Steph Wood: 18/30 (60%)

Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images

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