The Suncorp Spirit Cup will be retained by the Queensland Firebirds after a thrilling encounter in Toowoomba against the Sunshine Coast Lightning which ended in a 56-56 draw.
The Firebirds looked to have won a see-sawing contest at the Clive Berghofer Recreation Centre after a Ruby Bakewell-Doran intercept with less than a minute to play.
The Lightning however found a way to level the scores with a last-gasp goal from Cara Koenen with just 10 seconds to play.
The finish was a fitting end to a pulsating contest which thrilled the sold-out crowd for the 2023 Suncorp Spirit Cup, proudly supported by the Queensland Government.
Having won the inaugural Suncorp Spirit Cup in Mackay late last year, the Firebirds will take the trophy back with them to Brisbane.
“It’s pre-season, the result doesn’t really matter, what matters is when we play in round two,” Firebirds Head Coach Bec Bulley said.
“The great thing is we get to retain the Suncorp Spirit Cup, that’s a positive and we’re absolutely delighted to have brought elite netball to Toowoomba.”
The Firebirds’ own Toowoomba product, Mia Stower, hit two Suncorp Super Shots in the first half before Donnell Wallam came off the bench to spark Queensland’s attack.
Lightning’s international defensive pairing of Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Karla Pretorius were standouts for Head Coach Belinda Reynolds’ team.
Toowoomba local Ava Black was also impressive, taking on Firebirds’ stars Kim Ravaillion and Gabi Simpson in the mid-court.
“We just love every opportunity to play against an SSN team and to take it to regional Queensland so we can open it up to our fans here. The girls love it,” Reynolds said.
“You expect that from an SSN game, to be close, and we wanted a close game to be able to practice that before the season starts.
“It was what we expected it to be and glad that we were able to grind that game out.”
The two Queensland rivals will battle once more in the second round of the Suncorp Super Netball season at Nissan Arena on Saturday, 25 March.