The NSW Swifts have defeated the Sunshine Coast Lightning by 17 goals to win their first Suncorp Super Netball championship.
The experts gave them little chance, but internally the Swifts knew they had the game plan to beat the Lightning, all they had to do was pull it off.
And that they did.
From the first whistle, the Swifts were switched on. Their pressure intense, transition fast, and dominance at both ends established.
Sunshine Coast was rattled, Steph Wood – a usually accurate and calm goal attack – was feeling the nerves, missing her first attempts at goal and not willing to take another.
Sarah Klau’s deflections and intercepts started early, the new Diamonds goalkeeper attacking any loose passes and giving her side opportunity to score on turnover.
The Swifts extended a four-goal quarter-time margin to eight goals at the main break, with a dominant finish to the second term.
Sunshine Coast’s attempts to bring that deficit in were largely unsuccessful; every time the Lightning would peg one goal back, the Swifts would turn it back around and gain the momentum once again.
Sophie Garbin came into the attack in the second term, replacing Helen Housby, who spent some time on the bench managing a leg injury.
The Swifts quickly adapted to this change and the shooter fitted in seamlessly.
Strategic time-outs called by NSW coach Briony Akle in the second half ensured her young side never got ahead of themselves.
While the margin stretched out to 10 at the final change, NSW were not able to enjoy the game until the final minutes.
Akle put her bench onto the court with less than five minutes remaining, a gesture to thank the girls for their hard work throughout the year.
Sunshine Coast changed up the combinations more than they would have hoped, but could never get a clean run in attack.
Karla Pretorius battled for intercepts and turnover opportunities all day, but her side struggled to complete her fantastic efforts.
Laura Langman, who is yet to re-sign with the Lightning for 2020, had a strong performance through the centre and won the contest against Paige Hadley.
A huge win for the young NSW Swifts, they came from nowhere today and took many by surprise.
It was a 27-goal turnaround from their major semi-final loss; some brilliant research and adjustments to the game plan and a high-intensity performance from start to finish got them the trophy.
Trinidad and Tobago Swift goal shooter Sam Wallace was named player of the match for her 40 goals from 44 attempts.
Her dominant performance was a complete turnaround on the battle she lost against Phumza Maweni a fortnight ago.
The shooter was very emotional post-game, it’s a big sacrifice to live and play over in Australia, away from family, but today it all paid off.
Paige Hadley brought the injured captain Maddy Proud onto stage with her to collect the trophy. Proud has had a huge influence on the team since her injury.
Taking on a sideline coaching role, she cheered her girls all the way home and provided tips throughout the game.
That’s the 2019 Super Netball season over, the Swifts win the championship by 17 goals over the Lightning.
Sunshine Coast Lightning 47
NSW Swifts 64