Lightning beat Swifts in grand final rematch, Thunderbirds end Vixens’ unbeaten start

The Super Netball landscape has taken on a fresh look after the Sunshine Coast Lightning handed NSW Swifts their first loss of the season, while the previously unbeaten Melbourne Vixens fell to the Adelaide Thunderbirds.

The Lightning won 65-58 at Sunshine Coast’s USC Stadium on Sunday afternoon, with shooter Cara Koenen starring with 52 goals as the hosts exacted revenge for their 17-goal defeat at the hands of the Swifts in last season’s grand final.

The Adelaide Thunderbirds later stunned the Vixens with an impressive 54-47 upset victory.

Sunday’s results mean the Vixens, Lightning and Swifts all sit on 12 points with 3-1 win-loss records, but the Melbourne-based club is on top of the ladder via a superior percentage.

The Swifts came into the clash with the Lightning riding high on a three-game winning streak.

The Lightning held a 29-26 lead at half-time before making their move in the third quarter, outscoring the Swifts 8-3 in the Power Five period to build a 10-goal advantage.

The Swifts made a late charge in the fourth quarter but it was not enough to prevent the Lightning from moving above them into second spot on the ladder on percentage.

The Lightning finally put their slow starts behind them to win their first opening quarter for the season, Laura Langman leading from the front with 11 feeds and six assists for the 17-14 advantage.

The Swifts rallied in the second quarter but were unable to inch in front.

They were dealt a blow when Helen Housby left the court early in the third quarter after colliding with teammate Maddy Proud, a corked thigh keeping the star attacker off the court for the majority of the second half.

Housby came back into the contest during the Power Five periods to finish with six super shots, but the steady play of the Lightning won the day despite a 9-1 edge in two-point goals to the Swifts.

Vixens outplayed by Thunderbirds

Behind a powerhouse performance from Shamera Sterling, the Thunderbirds roared home in the fourth quarter to break through for their maiden win over the Vixens in Super Netball.

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The Vixens came into the encounter unbeaten after three rounds, having conceded the fewest goals in the competition but it was the defensive effort from the upstart Thunderbirds that proved the difference.

Jamaican import Sterling thwarted numerous Vixens attacking plays with nine deflections, three defensive rebounds and two intercepts.

Coming off a 15-goal defeat to the Swifts, the Thunderbirds applied relentless pressure to their highly-fancied opponents from the outset as they held the Vixens to their lowest scoring quarter for the season in the first period.

The Vixens still held an 11-10 lead heading into the second quarter and extended their advantage to five but the Thunderbirds clawed their way back in the Power Five period.

Trailing 23-22 at half-time, the Thunderbirds refused to go away in the third term with rookie goal attack Georgie Horjus sinking a super shot to put her side up by three goals approaching the end of the quarter.

But the experience of shooter Caitlin Thwaites came to the fore as she responded with two super shots of her own to put the Vixens up 37-35 heading into the fourth quarter.

With their unbeaten record on the line, the Vixens tried valiantly to find a way through Adelaide’s rock-solid defence but the underdogs would not be denied, with 18-year-old Horjus keeping her cool with some clutch shooting from two-point range to seal a memorable victory.

AAP/ABC

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