Thunderbirds hold on to avoid late Lightning strike

Steve Barrett |

Adelaide’s Romelda Aiken-George (centre) looks for a teammate  against the Lightning.
Adelaide’s Romelda Aiken-George (centre) looks for a teammate against the Lightning.

The Adelaide Thunderbirds have survived a huge scare to notch a thrilling 60-57 overtime win over the Sunshine Coast Lightning in the Super Netball clash at UniSC Stadium.

A percentage pile-on looked on the cards when the Thunderbirds raced to a 15-3 lead on Saturday, before the visitors were progressively reeled in and almost overhauled by the valiant Lightning.

Captain Step Fretwell surprisingly started on the bench before coming on and spearheading the Lightning’s rearguard.

She slotted eight shots without a miss in the fourth quarter, including a super shot on the back of successive Adelaide turnovers, before fellow shooter Reilley Batcheldor tied the scores at 50-50 with four seconds left in regulation.

The Thunderbirds’ attacking duo of Romelda Aiken-George and Goergie Horjus, who masterminded the initial ambush, stepped up in the extension as the visitors recaptured the initiative.

Aiken-George potted 10 without a miss in overtime, while Lightning trio Fretwell, Batcheldor and Cara Koenen suddenly misplaced their radars at the worst time.

Adelaide defenders Matilda Garrett and Shamera Sterling-Humphrey stormed out of the blocks, harassing the Lightning’s attackers into repeated turnovers as the Thunderbirds marched to a commanding 17-6 quarter-time advantage.

Koenen buried 10 without blemish in the second stanza as the home side stemmed the bleeding before taking complete control in the third.

Fretwell’s steadying presence and the defending of Courtney Bruce and Ash Ervin underpinned Sunshine Coast’s 16-8 third term, which sliced the margin to just three goals at three-quarter-time.

Fretwell was sublime in the fourth period, piggybacking her team to parity, but she couldn’t maintain that brilliance in the extension.