Lightning strike hot to win Battle of the Bruce

THE Queensland Cup headed north up the Bruce Highway after the Sunshine Coast Lightning made it two wins from as many starts in 2023 with a comfortable 10-goal victory over the Queensland Firebirds.vDespite a Queensland resurgence in the second half, the Lightning were dominant enough in the first half that it did not matter.

Teams traded blows early, but thanks to a tip in midcourt, it was the Lightning who were the first to nab two in a row and build an early lead. The Lightning continued to capitalise on Firebird errors to extend their lead out to three, then four goals and the lead just kept growing from there.

The Firebirds did not seem as settled as they needed to be early in the match, which in turn was causing them to make simple errors which the Lightning were capitalising on. It was a five-goal margin at the beginning of the power five, but by the time the quarter time buzzer went things had blown out to a seven goal margin.

The errors in attack and crucial missed shots kept coming from the Firebirds, and as such the Lightning nailed the first four goals of the quarter to extend their lead into double figures. It was too easy for the Lightning at times in the second term. Fumbles in attack from the Firebirds were being punished, and the Lightning were getting in front of their players really easily in their own attacking end.

The Lightning lead had grown to such a comfortable margin that the Lightning decided to play around with their world renowned shooting end and give young Charlie Bell a chance to debut. The Firebirds only put up seven goals for the quarter (which did include one super shot) while the Lightning put up more than double that in the second term (without any super shots), and as such took an 18 lead into the main break.

Queensland made drastic changes to its starting line up at half-time and it made some difference early, with the Firebirds scoring three of the first four goals of the quarter. Slowly but surely the home side ate away at their rival’s lead, but it was still a long way to come back for the girls in purple.

The Firebirds ultimately won the quarter by three goals, but the margin still sat at 15 at the final change. The Firebirds were still a long way back but they looked like a much more competitive side in the third term. Queensland again started the final term well and their momentum from the third term continued.

Ruby Bakewell-Doran was doing some stellar work out of goal keeper, and the Firebirds were capitalising on it up the other end. Their movement down court was also significantly better than it had been earlier in the match. The home side just kept coming and coming and even got as close as eight goals behind, but two late goals to the visitors and the Firebirds just ran out of time to get any closer than that.

Kadie-Ann Dehaney had another stellar game in defence for the Lightning, finishing with six gains, two intercepts, seven deflections and three rebounds. Cara Koenen and Steph Wood also combined well as usual, only missing three shots between them.

Meanwhile for the Firebirds, Bakewell-Doran was a star, finishing with seven gains, five intercepts, six deflections and a rebound, while Lara Dunkley (29 feeds, 13 assists, one gain, one intercept, one deflection) was also industrious.

QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS             14 | 7 | 18 | 16 (55)      
SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING    21 | 18 | 15 | 11 (65)


Queensland Firebirds

GS: Donnell Wallam
GA: Mia Stower
WA: Lara Dunkley
C: Kim Ravaillion
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: Ruby Bakewell-Doran
GK: Remi Kamo

Sunshine Coast Lightning

GS: Cara Koenen
GA: Steph Wood
WA: Annie Miller
C: Laura Scherian
WD: Mahalia Cassidy
GD: Karla Pretorious
GK: Kadie-Ann Dehaney

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