Lightning primed for Super Netball defence

Maddy McAuliffe was influential as Sunshine Coast sealed top seeding for the Super Netball finals.
Maddy McAuliffe was influential as Sunshine Coast sealed top seeding for the Super Netball finals.

Departing coach Noeline Taurua is one win away from another grand final gift to her Sunshine Coast Lightning after the reigning Super Netball champion's 58-37 crushing of the Adelaide Thunderbirds.

The Lightning, who farewell the two-time premiership winning coach at the end of this season, next host the NSW Swifts in the major semi-final next Saturday after overcoming a poor start at the USC Stadium to finish on top of the regular season standings.

A capacity crowd watched as champion Sunshine Coast midcourter Laura Langman had the luxury of sitting out Saturday's final quarter, confident that her teammates could finish the job without her.

Fellow midcourter Maddy McAuliffe had one of her best games for the Lightning, while South African defender Karla Pretorius grabbed six intercepts to ensure the hosts gathered momentum after a shaky start.

Shooters Stephanie Wood (22/25) and Cara Koenen (30/32) kept the scoreboard ticking over after Ugandan international Peace Proscovia (6/8) had early issues against Jamaican defender Shamera Sterling.

Heading into the final round clash after the NSW Swifts had pipped the Queensland Firebirds, the Lightning just needed to win to secure top seeding and home advantage.

Maria Folau led Adelaide's resistance 33 goals from 39 attempts but she and her attacking partners struggled to make headway against a committed defence.

The Thunderbirds had success early when pressuring Proscovia, whose return to the starting line-up ended before quarter time.

Sterling and Kate Shimmin's defensive prowess eventually waned as the Thunderbirds surrendered key turnovers in the second quarter as McAuliffe created havoc.

Australian Associated Press