Lightning's licence to thrill can deliver grand final success
THE licence to thrill and the experience to chill.
Sunshine Coast star Caitlin Bassett says that is the double-barrelled key to success for the Lightning in their march to the inaugural Suncorp Super Netball grand final on June 17.
The Sunshine Coast will host the decider at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre at Boondall after their nailbiting 56-55 major semi-final win over the Melbourne Vixens on Saturday.
They will play the winner of this Saturday's preliminary final between the Vixens and GWS in netball's season showpiece.
Goalshooter Bassett was named MVP of the ferocious major semi-final after hitting 44 goals from 47 attempts despite being battered and bruised by the physical Vixens defence.
When the game was on the line in the tense final term, the more experienced Lightning line-up was too smart and too strong.
The Sunshine Coast starting seven had a combined total of 381 Tests caps compared to Melbourne's 82 Test caps. The average age of the Lightning side was 28-years-old, four years older than Melbourne.
Bassett said that experience was priceless along with the trust that Lightning coaching staff put in their players to make decisions on-court.
"We are a really mature bunch and we have a common goal and that is to win the premiership,'' Bassett said.
"We do have experience and we are all individuals in our own right and we are given a licence to play how we want to.
"It's really good when you are not being told to play a certain way. We adapt and adjust and just bring out the best in each other. We didn't spend a lot of time together in the pre-season but we have only grown across the year.
"It means so much to have that experience especially when a game is going down to the wire.
"It's all about the players who settle the quickest, who are smartest with the ball and know what to do and when to do it.''
The Lightning received a heroine's welcome when they arrived home yesterday but it will quickly be back to business.
In an ominous warning for GWS or the Vixens, Bassett said the Lightning still had not put together the perfect performance in their inaugural year.
"I still don't think you've seen the best 60 minutes of netball from us which is actually exciting,'' Bassett said.
"We've got one more chance to bring it out and two weeks to work on doing that.
"We have opportunities to really put the foot down but we waste it. I'm sure that will come up in the video analysis this week.''
Bassett said the Lightning were driven by the memories of the 11-goal thumping at the hands of the Vixens in Round 10 and were able to finish over the top of the minor premiers.
"We really clicked into gear that last quarter. We were so disappointed the last time we played them. It was a heavy loss and we knew we were capable of better,'' she said.
"The preparation we had leading into the game, we felt we were in the right head space to get out there and have a good game.
"We took a lot of confidence from knowing our defensive end would come up with clutch plays when we needed them.''
Tickets for the grand final go on sale for Lightning members on Thursday and Friday. The general public can purchase tickets from Tuesday, June 13.