Sunshine Coast Lightning open Super Netball season with Queensland derby win

Super Netball’s controversial super shot has delivered on its crowd-pleasing potential, as Sunshine Coast Lightning launched the 2020 season with a 66-48 win against Queensland Firebirds in Brisbane.

The Lightning’s win was followed by West Coast Fever’s 74-62 triumph against Adelaide Thunderbirds, with Jhaniele Fowler sinking 53 goals for the victors to complete the double-header.

The brave Firebirds were overpowered in the last quarter of the local derby by the Lightning’s more experienced and stronger bodies in a revealing opening clash of the coronavirus pandemic-delayed 2020 season.

Sunshine Coast trailed by as much as nine goals in the first half but — in internationals Laura Langman, Stephanie Wood and Karla Pretorius — the Lightning had too much class in the fourth term.

Kylee Byrne held her nerve in her first game as the club’s head coach, thanks largely to a big finish from Wood, who shot 10-from-11 super shots in her 14-goal haul.

Despite some early promise, Firebirds shooters Romelda Aiken (26/33) and Tippah Dwan (11/17) were unable to provide the impact their team needed in the second half.

Firebirds youngster Dwan, who was promoted to the squad this season in the absence of pregnant sharpshooter Gretel Bueta, became the first player to capitalise on the super shot.

The new rule rewards the shooter with two points from goals scored in the outer half of the shooting circle in the last five minutes of each quarter.

The Firebirds goal attack sank two super shots for the first quarter to hand last year’s wooden spooners a surprise eight-goal quarter-time lead over the two-time champions.

Strategically, the Power Five period has already become a major game changer, with both coaches using the closing stretch of each quarter to inject long-range specialists.

Just as Dwan ripped open the first quarter, Wood shot five-from-five super shots to single-handedly drag her side back into the contest.

Fever open season with a bang

Fowler did most of the damage of her 53 goals from close range, barely needing the assistance of the super shot as the Fever crushed the Thunderbirds.


Until Wednesday morning, the Perth-based Fever were preparing themselves for a season-opening showdown with the Giants in Sydney.

But games in New South Wales were rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the Fever instead packing their bags for a Queensland assignment.

Fever goal shooter Fowler was the dominant figure in the first half. Her anticipated duel with Jamaican teammate, Adelaide’s Shamera Sterling, was not the gripping battle the Thunderbirds had hoped for.

It was no shame Sterling was unable to tame the 198-centimetre shooter, whose strength and body positioning made her almost impossible to stop near the post.

The new-look Thunderbirds, driven in the centre by Maisie Nankivell, pressured their opponents in the third quarter and stayed in touch thanks to a trio of super shots from Samantha Gooden.

Despite at times fielding five internationals on the court, the Thunderbirds could not stay with the West Australians.