Lightning slay Giants in Super Netball win

The Sunshine Coast Lightning made the finals again but lost 100-game shooter Steph Wood to injury.
The Sunshine Coast Lightning made the finals again but lost 100-game shooter Steph Wood to injury.

The Sunshine Coast Lightning have qualified for a fifth consecutive Super Netball finals series after overcoming the loss of influential shooter Steph Wood to claim a dramatic 64-63 overtime victory over the top-ranked Giants.

The Lightning's semi-final chances were hanging by a thread when Wood limped off the court with a knee injury in the third quarter of Tuesday's clash at Brisbane's Nissan Arena as the Giants battled valiantly to remain on top of the ladder.

Some clutch long-range shooting from Sophie Dwyer (6/7 super shots) helped the Giants recover from five goals down with four minutes left to force overtime.

But a contact penalty against Dwyer in the final minute of the extra period handed the Lightning one final opportunity to snatch victory and Peace Proscovia coolly slotted the match-winning goal in the dying seconds of the extra period.

The result eliminates the in-form Collingwood Magpies from play-off contention and locks in the four semi-finals combatants with one round left to play.

"I'm so exhausted, I don't even know what happened," Lightning centre Mahalia Cassidy told the Nine Network moments after the heart-stopping win.

"It was such a full 65 minutes today and I'm so happy that we got it - it was really important for us to make finals."

Celebrations for the Lightning will be tempered by the loss of Wood with fears the talismanic goaler's 100th national league game could be her last for the season.

With plenty on the line for both teams, the match was played at a high intensity with a number of physical clashes - Giants defender April Brandley joining Wood on the sidelines with an ankle problem.

Stifling defence helped the Giants open up a five-goal gap in the opening quarter but Sunshine Coast responded with Cara Koenen connecting on all 11 of her shots to level the scores at 16-16.

Both sides took the physicality up a notch in the second period but a string of penalties and nine turnovers for the quarter proved costly for the Giants as the Lightning edged ahead 31-28 at half-time.

Sunshine Coast increased their lead to five goals in the third quarter but with Wood sidelined, Dwyer stepped up with three super shots to cut the Lightning's advantage to 45-44.

A super shot from Dwyer handed the Giants a one-point lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter but Proscovia intervened to send the game into overtime before clinching a nail-biting win with the final act of the game.

The loss means the Giants will need to defeat West Coast Fever in the final match of the regular season in order to claim their second ever minor premiership.

Australian Associated Press