The NSW Swifts have stunned the two-time reigning premiers Sunshine Coast Lightning to claim a 64-47 victory at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
- Sam Wallace top-scored with 40 goals for the Swifts
- Cara Koenen led the way for the Lightning with 23 goals from 27 shots
- The result was a disappointing end to coach Noeline Taurua’s time at the Lightning, denying her team a third title in a row
The Lightning were hunting for a third successive title to give inaugural coach Noeline Taurua a perfect send-off, but could not control either goal circle as the Swifts’ game plan played out to perfection during a final of supreme quality.
The Swifts started as if shot out of a cannon, their intensity underlining the visitors’ need to silence the boisterous home crowd, and never looked back.
The visitors — who finished just three points behind the Lightning on the ladder — opened the scoring inside 10 seconds and raced into a 3-0 lead before the Lightning even had a chance to launch an attack.
Trinidad and Tobago sharp-shooter Sam Wallace was imperious for the Swifts throughout, dominating the Lightning’s South African goalkeeper Phumza Maweni to shoot 10 from 11 in the first quarter.
She finished the match with 40 from 44 attempts, gaining ample support from Helen Housby (18 from 22) and Sophie Garbin (six from seven) as the Swifts grew in confidence and an upset victory appeared more and more certain.
The Swifts defence made it incredibly difficult for the Lightning to get to the net, with Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner bossing the Swifts’ goal circle, forcing multiple turnovers and restricting Steph Wood and Cara Koenen to ineffectual distance shooting.
Wood’s furious battle with Turner summed up the contest in a microcosm, the Swifts defender meeting the challenge head on and denying Wood a sniff of a goal as she went goal-less from just two attempts in the first half.
Wood, who was being bullied into submission in the circle, was taken off by Taurua, moving Koenen from goal attack to goal shooter and introducing 188cm Ugandan Peace Proscovia to the line-up.
It made an immediate difference, the Lightning reducing the deficit from a quarter-high of seven to trail by just four at the first break.
No three-peat for Lightning
- 2017 GF: Sunshine Coast Lightning 65 Giants Netball 48
- 2018 GF: Sunshine Coast Lighting 62 West Coast Fever 59
- 2019 GF: Sunshine Coast Lightning 47 NSW Swifts 64
The two teams traded goals throughout the second and third quarters, with Proscovia scoring nine from 10 up to half-time in her first Super Netball final, providing the Lightning a focal point that was missing earlier in the contest.
The Swifts, however, were still controlling the rebounds in a frenetic, high intensity contest — and there were late bursts in both the second and third quarters as the Swifts pushed the lead out to eight goals at half-time.
The Lightning would have been further behind but for South African international Karla Pretorius, who was responsible for all three of the Lightning’s interceptions up to half-time.
Only once from eight occasions this season have the Swifts surrendered a half-time lead, and when the lead blew out to 10 goals early in the third quarter and remained the same at the final break, it seemed the Lightning’s chances were evaporating.
Wood had scored 22 from 29 in the 10-point semi-final victory over the Swifts a fortnight ago, but only scored her first goal from her fourth attempt shortly after the interval, and the Lightning desperately missed her output at the stick.
She improved to eight from 14, but it was too little, too late as the Swifts’ dominance in both goal circles eventually told, to deliver the side its first title since 2008.
The Lightning were a beaten side in the fourth quarter as the Swifts blew out the lead to 16 goals and not even a fierce spray from Taurua during a final timeout could arrest the slide.