A feisty Steph Wood has renewed Sunshine Coast Lightning’s bid for a fourth straight Super Netball grand final with a masterful local derby performance against Queensland Firebirds.
- The Lightning are in second place on the Super Netball standings following their victory
- Steph Wood played a key role in the Lightning’s win, with a 34-point tally
- The fifth-placed Giants are still finals contenders after beating the Thunderbirds 64-54
The Lightning’s 75-67 victory at USC Stadium on Sunday was the side’s eighth of the season and launched them past West Coast Fever and NSW Swifts into second place on the ladder with two rounds remaining.
After a slow start, it took the injection of Wood to turn the match in the two-time champion’s favour.
Wood registered 24 points (14 goals, five super shots) and opened up the attack end with 25 feeds to give teammate Karla Pretorius a win in her 100th match.
Pretorius finished with six gains and was amazing in her milestone appearance to provide the side with the possession they needed to stay with the confident Firebirds in the first half.
“It was a special win for us,” Pretorius said after helping her team lock up another finals berth.
Romelda Aiken’s 47 goals gave the Firebirds every chance of an upset but Queensland could not turn back the Lightning once Wood, Pretorius and Laura Langman (47 feeds) stepped up.
Giants still a finals chance
The Giants kept their slim finals hopes alive with a 64-54 win against the Thunderbirds in Adelaide.
The fifth-placed Giants remain a mathematical chance of qualifying for the top four after eliminating the Thunderbirds from contention.
Wins against the Fever and Swifts in the next fortnight are a must and they would also need a percentage boost to sneak into an elimination final.
Outstanding goal attack Kiera Austin (30 goals, 13 feeds and two gains) ensured the Giants will at least be in the conversation.
“We knew there was a lot on the line for us,” Austin said.
“And Adelaide is such a great team and they’ve grown such good combinations so we knew they would be really tough.”