NETBALL: Stephanie Wood proved her weight in Diamonds for the Sunshine Coast in Perth on Friday, as the Lightning moved to outright second on the Suncorp Super Netball ladder with a win over West Coast Fever.
A decision to ease the 25-year-old Test-capped goal attack back into the cut and thrust of top flight netball after knee surgery has proved a masterstroke from coach Noeline Taurua, as Wood displayed her most complete performance in Lightning colours.
Lightning started like a flash after a perfect shooting performance from Wood and the competition's leading goal shooter Caitlin Bassett in the first quarter.
Bassett returned to her old stomping ground in new colours for the first time and also shone in front of family and friends, draining 44 goals from 46 attempts to win the Most Valuable Player award, while Wood landed long-bomb after long-bomb to finished with 22 from 24.
"Another week, another outing together, another run around with Steph because she was injured and out for a little bit so it's great to have her back in the circle," Bassett said.
A number of changes by Fever coach Stacey Marinkovich looked to re-ignite the Fever early in the second half.
She introduced debutant defender Annika Lee-Jones to try and contain Bassett, and switched Diamonds veteran Natalie Medhurst to goal shooter, as Fever desperately tried to close a 15-goal deficit.
But the Lightning show resumed after the break as Wood and Bassett continued to work in unison.
Despite a spirited defensive effort by Fever, the seventh-placed outfit was no match, going down (66-49).
"We were definitely wary, we knew fever would be confident coming off their win, we knew they'd do a great job," Bassett said.
" I know personally from (playing) here we played well at home so to get a win here is really important for Sunny Coast."
Lightning included New Zealand star Laura Langman in its 10-woman squad despite a nasty finger injury suffered last weekend. She remained on the bench as Laura Scherian continued to impress alongside Kelsey Browne in the midcourt.
"(Scherian) and Kelsey have really taken the opportunity and done some really amazing work, so (I'm) stoked for them," Bassett said.
Geva Mentor continued her remarkable form at the defensive end, reeling off five intercepts, five rebounds and three deflections.
Lightning moves to second place, but Giants will have their chance to re-claim the spot against Vixens in Melbourne tomorrow night.
And there is sure to be plenty of hype surrounding Lightning's Round 7 match up, as the side prepares for the second Queensland derby with the Firebirds at the Bolt Vault (USC).
"I was shocked they struggled against Vixens so hard. They'll try everything this week (against Thunderbirds) ... it'll be a test for them. They're coming to our home court which will be amazing. Our fans have done such a great job of filling USC Stadium and making it a home court for us."
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