15 Sep 2019

Swifts topple Taurua's Lightning in netball upset

6:55 pm on 15 September 2019

One dynasty ended and a new empire sprouted green shoots when the NSW Swifts ambushed the Sunshine Coast Lightning 64-47 to win the Suncorp Super netball grand final in Brisbane.

Sunshine Coast Lightning and Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua

Sunshine Coast Lightning and Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua Photo: Photography

It was an empty farewell for Sunshine Coast's founding coach, Silver Ferns mentor Noeline Taurua, whose tenure at the expansion club is over.

The defeat may also be the final act in Australia's national league for off-contract Lightning and Silver Ferns midcourter Laura Langman, who has yet to declare her plans for 2020.

The day belonged to the Briony Akle-coached Swifts who added a sixth national league title - and first in the Super Netball era - to their proud history.

It also brought an unprecedented third grand final title of the year for veteran Silver Ferns defender Katrina Rore.

Rore had been dropped from the Silver Ferns after leading New Zealand to its worst ever finish at a Commonwealth Games, on the Gold Coast last year.

She bounced back in the New Zealand netball premiership, captaining the Central Pulse to a maiden title before being recalled to the Ferns, with whom she went on to play an influential role in the world title win playing in the unfamiliar role of wing defence.

Defender Sarah Klau kick-started the premiership surge with a whopping 11 gains and five intercepts while the polish was added by goal shooter Sam Wallace who finished with 40 goals from 44 attempts.

Klau and her defensive partner Maddy Turner never allowed the Lightning to click in attack and their teammates were just as disciplined.

The Swifts landed a telling blow when they forced one of the Lightning's prime movers, goal attack Steph Wood, to the bench before quarter-time.

The balance of power hinged on an epic duel between centres Langman and Paige Hadley.

They pursued each other from one end of the court to the other, Swifts captain Hadley taking the edge for much of the first half as her team stretched their lead to eight goals at the break.

The demands of running with the world's best player took a toll on Hadley as Lightning skipper Langman hauled her side back into the contest in the third quarter.

Yet, as hard as Langman ran, she couldn't will her side any closer on the scoreboard.

With every touch of the ball she gave the Sunshine Coast energy, but by early in the final term the margin had blown out to 12 goals.