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Swifts pipped by Lightning in thriller


The NSW Swifts’ Suncorp Super Netball Finals hopes have taken a blow after they went down 66-64 to the Sunshine Coast Lighting in a nail-biter at Ken Rosewall Arena tonight.

Down by margins of eight twice in the second half, the Swifts produced two remarkable comebacks but with 14 seconds left on the clock the Queenslanders held possession smartly to deny the seven-time Premiers a chance to force extra time.

Only goal percentage separated the teams entering the Round 9 game and the loss means the Swifts now sit one win outside the competition top four with five rounds to play.

It seemed like the third Power Five period would be where the game was won and lost. Only down by two goals entering it, the Swifts went for Super Shots to regain the lead but they didn’t land and the visitors pounced to take control of the game.

With what looked like a mountain to climb, the Swifts found the wherewithal to get back within striking range to leapfrog the Lightning on the ladder. And while they didn’t get the win, it left head coach Briony Akle with the knowledge her team are still well in the fight for another playoff campaign.

Both teams played some beautiful netball in the opening exchanges with returning Swifts co-captain Maddy Proud at the heart of everything.

The pace of the game was fast but it wasn’t overly physical as the teams found their route to goal with pacy, intricate passing.

After 10 minutes the scores were tied at 12 goals apiece and while a replay penalty that went against Helen Housby threatened to give Lightning some clear air, the England international and Sophie Fawns landed Super Shots to send the Swifts to quarter-time just two goals in arrears (18-20).

Good arms over the shot by Lightning defender Ashleigh Ervin forced Fawns off target but the visitors couldn’t convert at the other end. Despite Sunshine Coast looking more comfortable en route to goal they couldn’t shake the Swifts and the teams were level (30-30) entering the second Power Five.

A Fawns Super Shot briefly gave NSW the lead but Ervin thwarted her again off the next play and former Swift Steph Fretwell (nee Wood) landed a pair of two-pointers just before halftime to give the Queenslanders a three-goal advantage when the teams headed to the sheds (36-39).

Strong midcourt pressure got the Swifts back on level terms early in the third quarter, but that was only until an Ervin rejection of Housby gave the impetus back to Lightning. The visitors only led by three entering the third Power Five, but back-to-back Super Shot misses by the Swifts, coupled with excellent defensive rebounding by Sunny Coast allowed the latter build an eight-goal lead (47-55), which in the context of the game was huge.

But the game was far from over. Allie Smith and Sarah Klau were to the fore to seal bonus possession as the Swifts went on a six-goal run to whittle the difference down to just two goals with nine minutes remaining.

A missed Fawns attempt and a contact call against the Paige Hadley swung the momentum back in favour of the Lightning, who led by seven entering the last Power Five, yet back came the Swifts again.

NSW defensive pressure told as the game reached its climax and when Fawns and Housby combined for three consecutive Super Shots the game was on a knife edge. However, the Lightning held on to move one win clear of their opponents and stay in fourth place.

Next up for NSW is a trip to Perth to face the West Coast Fever.

Image and original article from

SEN SwiftsLeaderboard 728x90


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