Sport Netball Super netball grand final: Swifts v Lightning, the nerves, the pressure

Super netball grand final: Swifts v Lightning, the nerves, the pressure

Ready for action: Sunshine Coast Lightning head coach Noeline Taurua (L), captain Laura Langman, NSW Swifts captain Paige Hadley and head coach Briony Akle. Photo: AAP
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There are nerves and determination on both sides as the NSW Swifts and Sunshine Coast Lightning face off the Super Netball grand final in Brisbane on Sunday afternoon.

Prolific Swifts shooter Sam Wallace has vowed to get the better of Sunshine Coast after suffering nerves and frustration in their semi-final showdown.

Trinidadian Wallace has bagged 608 goals this year, the third highest in the competition. The 193cm shooter averages 38 goals a game at an impressive accuracy clip of 93 per cent.

Winners? Swifts Natalie Haythornthwaite (L), Helen Housby and Sam Wallace. Photo: Getty 

She was held to her second lowest haul this season (16) in the Swifts’ 10-goal major-semi final loss to the Lightning two weeks ago.

“I got frustrated when I wasn’t getting the ball so now that I’ve learnt from my mistakes, Lightning aren’t going to get the better of me. I’m going to get the better of them,” Wallace told AAP.

Wallace was adamant nerves wouldn’t be an issue for her in Sunday’s season decider at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre – her first professional grand final after 14 years of high-level netball.

“I think all the nerves went when I played my first semi-final against Lightning. I was nervous,” Wallace said.

“The Vixens (preliminary final) game I was as calm as a stone and going into the grand final I’ll be fine, no nerves.

The finals matches have been taking place when it’s been late in the evening in Trinidad, but that hasn’t deterred her friends from feeling like they are part of her journey.

“I have my friends even at the clubs watching the game when they were partying because of the time difference,” Wallace said.

“After the game, I’ll see my phone, my friends will text me like ‘Sam, good game’.”

“They are not saying I’m in the grand final they are saying ‘we.’

“I grew up playing netball with older women, so they still support me and they still carry on my journey. They message me on Facebook Messenger.

They keep me motivated and make me feel really good that they still watch me and see the player I’m becoming.”

Lightning coach Noeline Taurua admits she’s also nervous ahead of the match that could secure her club a remarkable Super Netball title hat-trick in the club’s first three years of existence.

Taurua has been the rock behind the Lightning, who could legitimately claim to being Australia’s most successful sporting franchise.

They have not only won titles in their first two seasons, the Lightning have also cruised into the 2019 title decider on the back of nine straight wins.

Nervous: Noeline Taurua is on the verge of a brilliant achievement. Photo: Getty

And that includes a 58-48 semi-final triumph over grand final opponents the Swifts.

However, Taurua said she may struggle to keep her emotions in check as she prepares to draw the curtain on her unprecedented Lightning stint after recently announcing she would return to her native New Zealand at season’s end for family reasons.

“At the moment I feel quite focused on what needs to happen but when the game starts I could be a bumbling mess,” she said on Friday.

“But I am not too worried on how I present myself or the emotion that may come out on Sunday.

“I just want our team to get out there and play and put out that overall performance that we are accustomed to out on court.

“There may be one game left in Lighting colours but as a family I will be around forever.”

There is speculation that Taurua will extend her role as New Zealand’s World Cup-winning coach into 2020 after leading the Silver Ferns to an unexpected triumph at July’s championship.

However, Taurua said her sole focus was inspiring one last hurrah for the Lightning.

“It’s massive. It’s more of a celebration for our club and the Sunshine Coast, as a community and knowing where we have come from as a newly established club,” she said.

“It is amazing that we are in our third straight grand final and with the possibility of winning another premiership, but I don’t think there are extra expectations because we have been there done that as such.

“The only expectation we have is on ourselves and make sure we deliver and play that beautiful game we know we are accustomed to.”

-with AAP