NETBALL: The Sunshine Coast are the Queens of Sunshine State netball after an emphatic 11-goal win over the Firebirds at USC Stadium today.
The second-placed Lightning were never headed in a hard-fought Queensland derby and put the Firebirds' grip on fourth spot in danger with the 60-49 victory in front of a sellout crowd.
Caitlin Bassett was a tower of strength for the Lightning with 45 goals from 47 attempts as she led the Sunshine Coast to a fifth win from seven outings in its debut season.
Steph Wood was also good for the Sunshine Coast with 15 goals along with some clever passing while Firebirds star Romelda Aiken had her struggles with 30 goals from 42 attempts under immense pressure from Geva Mentor.
The Firebirds showed their championship qualities and quickly slashed the Lightning's lead to just two goals early in the fourth quarter but the Sunshine Coast responded swiftly and jumped out to a seven-goal buffer with seven minutes left.
They enjoyed the same margin in round one only to be rundown by the fast-finishing Firebirds who snatched a 56-all draw to start the state's newest sporting rivalry with a bang.
But they were not to be denied this time and put the pedal to the metal.
Both teams turned up the defensive intensity after half-time as more pressure mounted on every pass.
The Firebirds profited from the arm-wrestle briefly and closed the margin but the Lightning adjusted and kicked away to a seven-goal buffer before going into three-quarter time with a 43-37 advantage.
The Lightning held a 29-25 lead at half-time after a tight, tense and tactical tussle.
The home side jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and kept the Firebirds at bay for a vast majority of the opening two quarters with the pinpoint accuracy of their shooters proving the difference.
Bassett was a perfect 21 from 21 at half-time, while Wood missed just one of her nine attempts.
Aiken was 15 of 22 at half-time, while Abigail Latu-Meafou added eight goals in the second quarter from goal attack.
She was injected into the game at quarter-time when Jencke benched Jemma Mi Mi and switched Tippett to wing attack.
The Firebirds also replaced goal defender Kate Shimmin in the second term despite her three intercepts in the first quarter.
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